Osborne’s Emergency

Labour’s Chancellor, Alistair Darling, delivered his last budget on the 24th March 2010. However, with the new Coalition government planning to make more substantial cuts and with George Osborne and other ministers claiming to find ‘black holes’ in the budgets left by Labour, an emergency budget will take place on the 22nd June 2010. The Coalition government has agreed to make £6 billion of spending cuts in the current year in a bid to reduce the UK’s substantial budget deficit, which stands at nearly 12% of GDP. Vince Cable told the Times:

I fear that a lot of bad news about the public finances has been hidden and stored up for the new government. The skeletons are starting to fall out of the cupboard.

There are plans to reform capital gains tax, possibly increase VAT to 20% and remove tax credits from some middle-income families. In Alistair Darling’s budget, it was middle-income families who were among the ‘losers’, with tax rises of around £19 billion, and it looks as though middle-income families may be hit again. Throughout the election all parties pledged to continue to help the poorest families, but there appears to be a lot of uncertainty ahead for middle-income families. They are likely to face reduced benefits and higher taxes as the Coalition government tackles the £163 billion deficit.

Despite critics of spending cuts arguing that it could cause a double-dip recession, the government is confident that cutting spending now is the right thing to do. As Osborne told GMTV:

I am pretty clear that the advice from the Governor of the Bank of England was that [cutting spending now] was a sensible thing to do, and if there is waste in Government that people at home are paying for with their taxes, let’s start tackling that now.

Chancellor launches audit of government spending Independent, Andrew Woodcock (17/5/10)
Osborne to give details of £6bn spending cuts next week (including video) BBC News (17/5/10)
Savings cuts to ‘hit middle class families’ BBC News (15/5/10)
Osborne to deliver emergency budget on June 22nd Times Online, Susan Thompson (17/5/10)
David Cameron declares war on public sector pay Telegraph, Rosa Prince (16/5/10)
All eyes on the emergency Budget Financial Times, Matthew Vincent (14/5/10)
Tax rises likely under Coaliation government, says Institute of Fiscal Studies Telegraph, Edmund Conway (13/5/10)


  1. What will be the likely impact on middle-income families if proposed spending cuts go ahead? How might this affect the recovery?
  2. What are the arguments for a) cutting spending now and b) cutting spending later?
  3. In the future, the Coalition government plans to limit bonus payments. How might this policy affect jobs and recruitment?
  4. What is the likely impact of the future increase in personal tax allowance? Who will it benefit the most?
  5. How are the proposals for corporation tax and capital gains tax likely to affect the economic recovery?
  6. Is a rise in VAT a good policy? Who will it affect the most? Will it reduce consumption and hence aggregate demand or is it likely simply to raise tax revenue? (Hint: Think about the type of tax that VAT is.)