Saturday, 8 February 2014

(No) stitch in time

That last Labour lot were an utter shower. It’s cos of them we’re in the mess we’re in, cos of them spending, make that wasting, all our money. Wasting I tell you.

Hold that thought for a mo ….. the scenes from waterworld/Somerset are truly gobsmacking as is the fact it appears to have been going on since Christmas. Clearly something should have been and/or must be done about this, except something already was – spending on flood defences in England and Wales was cut (in absolute and real terms) years ago by the current government.

This was part of the initial approach to austerity; routine spending e.g. benefits, are a bugger to cut as the Irritable Bowel-Duncan-Smith experience exemplifies. Capital spending on the other hand is relatively easy, you just cancel or postpone the building of new things like seawalls. Hence, in the early years of austerity, capital spending, even though it’s a relatively modest share of total government spending, accounted for a disproportionate share of the cuts. Capital spending on flood defences illustrates this perfectly, the total being cut 27% from 2010/11 (the last year of Labour spending plans) to 2011/12.

Now would a Labour government have done anything differently if it’d won the last election? Doubt it. But, some of the last Labour government’s spending looks a bit more sensible allova sudden what with them having started ramping up spending towards the £1bn a year level that’s been deemed necessary to cope with all the freak weather we now appear to have.

And there’s the obvious charge of short-sightedness that can be made against the current lot. Would keeping spending at Labour levels have prevented current events? Doubt it, but it might have ameliorated some of them, which, given what they’ll ultimately mean in terms of additional spending on tidying up the mess, lost economic activity and all our insurance premiums, suggests the spending cuts may eventually cost us all far more than they apparently saved *. Oh and it would have created jobs as well.

And BTW the above numbers are nominal i.e. don’t take inflation into account, meaning the reduction in spending is even bigger than it looks.

* you get the impression the nasty bedroom tax has already gone in this direction as well what with the time and money being wasted on chasing up newly created rent arrears and what not.

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