Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds’ song “Three Lions” (released in the lead up to the Euro 96 tournament and which quickly became the de facto anthem of English football) captures the crushing disappointment experienced by English football supporters. As England gear up for another major football tournament, there are clear parallels to be drawn between ongoing English footballing heartbreak and the government response to a downbeat UK economy. Many in the UK will be nervously awaiting the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt’s upcoming Autumn Statement with a strong sense of déjà vu following the austerity budget of David Cameron and George Osborne in 2010.
However, whereas Baddiel and Skinner’s “Three Lions” opens the door to (likely misguided) optimism on the football front, it is clear that there is a painful path ahead for the UK economy as it seeks to recover from the fiasco of the September “Trussonomics” mini-budget. In a similar vein to Osbourne’s 2010 austerity program, Hunt aims to “balance the books and get debt falling” and has warned of a “tough road ahead – one which will require extremely difficult decisions to restore confidence and economic stability”.
Hunt’s Autumn Statement is due on Thursday. Businesses and individuals in the UK are braced for spending cuts and tax raids in order to fill the black hole in the UK’s finances. Although the Treasury says that nothing is set in stone until the statement is announced, it is understood that this issue will be tackled through a mixture of spending cuts and tax rises.
It is difficult to predict with certainty where the Chancellor’s axe will fall. To what extent will government departments' funding budgets be slashed or infrastructure projects be abandoned? Will the remedial action comprise of windfall taxes, “stealth taxes”, increases to capital gains tax or all of the above? The various options which are likely to be on the table are neatly set out in the BBC news article linked below. It is clear that there will be material differences to the 2010 Cameron/Osborne austerity program. However, when the precise details are made public on Thursday, it is likely that the UK public will feel the clocks turning back to another painful cycle of economic rebalancing and further years of hurt.