Grantham Journal column: Chancellor should open a new chapter in government’s policy
On Wednesday of next week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will stand up in the House of Commons and deliver his Budget.
He should announce the opening of a new chapter in the government’s economic policy.
In 2010, the country was running an annual deficit of over 10 per cent of our national income; if we had allowed this to continue, the country would have slid into bankruptcy.
After seven years of cuts, our annual deficit is now a manageable 2.6 per cent of national income. Austerity has worked.
The economy has stabilised and created millions of new jobs.
We now have higher employment than at any time since records began.
We need new priorities and a new economic policy for Britain after Brexit.
The Chancellor should make increasing ordinary workers’ wages the government’s central economic objective.
He should announce a huge programme of public investment.
The money should be spent on better transport links, especially in the Midlands and the North, better superfast broadband and 4G coverage in rural areas, more scientific research and better technical training and apprenticeships.
All of these investments will help working people become more productive so that employers can afford to pay them more.
We also need to invest in housing.
The ordinary dream of owning your own home is slipping out of the reach of people in their 20s and 30s.
The Chancellor must act. He should launch a new Grenfell Housing Commission to build 50,000 new affordable homes a year as a memorial to the people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.
He should reform the land market to cap the profits of wealthy landowners.
Councils should be given the power to buy land for new housing at a reasonable price so they can spend the money they save on roads, drains, schools and GP surgeries.
He should tell big housebuilders to stop dragging their feet and build on the sites where they have planning permission.
If they don’t build out a site on schedule, they should be forced to offer the plots to other builders who will.
All of these ideas appear in my new book, Square Deal, which I am publishing in instalments online at www.squaredeal.org.uk
Please take a look.
I would love to know what you think.