Many civil servants, who know the true numbers, are despairing about what it means for Britain’s future. Peter Oborne writes today that:
“One permanent secretary complained about the Budget, saying the Chancellor's financial figures do not add up. He said: 'We either need spending cuts, or a larger departmental budget. We are in a situation where the official figures are just not deliverable.'
Another civil servant is even gloomier. 'We are moving towards a crisis which can only be resolved by an emergency statement to the House of Commons in the autumn,' he warned. Other Treasury officials are pressing for the setting up of an emergency committee to investigate the need for drastic cuts in public spending.
But No 10 will not permit such a move. This, in turn, has led to a growing dread inside the Treasury that the Debt Management Office (which sells gilts for the Treasury) will be unable to fund the budget deficit on international markets.”
Not only did the Budget put off the necessary tough moves on spending until after polling day, it was also built on over-optimistic growth forecasts. If these prove to be as wrong as independent forecasters expect them to be, the next government will have to take even more dramatic action to keep the debt to GDP levels manageable. The economic inheritance being left to the Tories is even worse than most people realise and has been worsened by this Budget. One dreads to think what Brown will do with his last roll of the dice, this autumn’s Pre-Budget Report.