Yesterday’s news was dominated by the first report of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), set up by the coalition government to provide an ‘independent’ view of Britain’s economic health.
In yesterday’s report, the OBR said that economic growth would be lower than forecast, but that borrowing and the national deficit would also be lower than forecast.
The point that all these forecasts appear about as reliable as Michael Fish on April Fool’s Day was not addressed.
Anyway, the report wasn’t exactly what George Osborne was hoping for – it turns out that the national finances aren’t as bad as he’d made out (though they are still pretty awful), while the question of how exactly Britain’s economy is actually going to recover remains more pertinent than ever.
The TUC’s Touchstone blog carries some concise analysis of how the OBR report makes a nonsense of the government’s public spending cuts, while Left Foot Forward says that the OBR report provides no grounds for Osborne to make further cuts above those proposed by the outgoing Labour government.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget that Labour’s cuts would themselves have had a detrimental impact on public services.
Elsewhere, the Campaign for Better Transport published a report this morning outlining transport funding cuts that it says could save money while improving public transport. The report warns against ‘salami slicing’ transport budgets, calling for ‘the right cuts, not the easy cuts’.
The report outlines cuts to local bus services that have already kicked in:
- Leicester council has cut funding for all weekday evening and Sunday services they currently fund
- Blackpool Transport has cut jobs and scaled back early morning and evening services
- Northamptonshire proposed cutting 14 bus routes
- The successful Wiltshire Taxibuzz evening service, cut by Wiltshire Council despite it being a good example of demand responsive services that the Conservative party called for at a national level
- Increasing evidence that councils looking to cut budgets are cutting community transport as an easy option for in-year cuts