Good news from the chancellor

You have to agree that George Osborne seemed to be happy with his autumn statement yesterday.

But I am not sure if everyone understands what he means when he says that the deficit is reducing.

If you were to tell me your borrowing was reducing, most people would assume that you have paid it back and you don’t owe as much as you used to. The Chancellor at the dispatch box

When Chancellors tell us the deficit is reducing what they mean is that they are borrowing less this year than either they had budgetted or less than last year or more often less than the last government.

Of course borrowing less than you expected means you are still borrowing and that you owe more this year than you did last year.

He is forecasting actually paying some borrowing back in a few years time – 2018-19.

But surely he said he was repaying some borrowing:

And this morning I announced we will repay the entire outstanding national debt incurred to fight the First World War.

How can he say this?  Table A of the official statement does show gilt repayments of £64.5billion – but new gilts issued will be £125.9billion.

So all he really means is that he is refinancing his existing debt.

And just for fun it is worth pointing out that the “cut” in stamp duty will mean that the tax take will increase.  Table B.3 shows stamp duty receipts increasing from £9.4billion last year to £19.5billion in 2019-20.  Because he has not “cut” the tax just made it lower for smaller sales and lot higher on more expensive properties.


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