Robust plan is needed to boost Britain
It is always dangerous to jump to judgement on budgets, or in this case the autumn statement, and there is certainly a lot of food for thought in George Osborne's announcements yesterday. However, it is probably fair to say that there is not a lot of good news.
The economy is expected to grow but at a slower rate than previously expected, the target date for reducing the national debt will be missed, and the period of austerity is expected to last until 2018.
Most working age benefits will be cut in real terms, hitting some of the country's most vulnerable citizens, and local government budgets face a further two per cent cut in 2014.
There are some positives, however.
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The amount of money we can earn before paying income tax will rise; the basic state pension will increase by 2.5 per cent, and the planned 3p per litre fuel duty increase in January has been scrapped.
There will be more investment in transport and education and measures to help businesses, and extra money for HM Revenue and Customs to fight tax avoidance.
We certainly support the decision over fuel duty and the increase in the personal allowance.
These will help hard-pressed individuals and families whose wages are often not keeping pace with inflation. We also welcome the increase in state pensions.
The efforts to curb tax avoidance are good news and will hopefully help to address public concern over this issue.
And the investment measures announced are badly needed in helping to stimulate the country's economy.
Our biggest concern, however, is whether the investment goes far enough.
We appreciate that there is a difficult balance to be struck between doing this while tackling the national debt.
However, there is also a real danger that the country will become trapped in a cycle of stagnation unless there is a robust plan of action to boost the economy.
We have not yet seen such a plan and the investment announced yesterday appears to us to still be far too modest.