What horrors are going to come out of this week’s Budget? Wrong question - think first about the horrors we know about. Darling has already announced that he will be borrowing £118 billion this year.
Of course that figure is hopelessly inaccurate. It was based on optimistic growth targets, which we aren’t going to meet; the final figure could be £160 billion. But even that doesn’t include the vast sums used to bail out the banks (which Darling claims he is going to get back one day), or the usual stealth spending (public sector pensions, PFI and so on). So the actual amount is going to be even higher. But never mind that for now; let’s just think about that £118 billion.
£118,000,000,000 extra borrowing, in just 12 months.
But governments do deal in huge numbers. Is that really so large? Yes, it is. About one pound in every five that the government spends this year will be unfunded. Borrowed, to be paid by future generations. If we closed down the entire NHS, that would just about balance the Budget. Alternatively, if we doubled income tax – so that most taxpayers pay 40% instead of 20%, and the better off pay 80% instead of 40%, that would almost raise enough money to plug the hole. Except of course it wouldn’t, because anyone who could would leave the country.
Even in government terms, £118,000,000,000 is a huge amount to borrow. But next year he plans to borrow another £105 billion. In fact over five years he plans to borrow £457 billion. And that’s just what he has admitted to; there will be much more hidden away.
To show the sheer scale of this government’s overspending:
- It took past governments over 200 years, from the 1700s to 2000, to run up a cumulative debt of £300 billion.
- Gordon Brown doubled that in just nine 9 years, borrowing another £300 billion between 2000 and 2009.
- Darling plans to borrow a further £300 billion in just over two years.
The interest and repayments on this debt will be dragging down our economy for a generation.
Frankly I find it terrifying.