This afternoon the Chancellor will be presenting the outcome of his snap one-year Spending Review, detailing the Government’s planned expenditure on services for the next year.
There are a few things which are unusual about this review, the first is because spending reviews involve planning how the Government will spend over a third of the UK’s GDP, they usually take longer than a month to prepare. The second is that they always cover multiple years of expenditure because spending reviews are about medium-term financial planning, after all the Budget sets out planned annual spending. So what’s going on here?
Well, imagine you were a Government who was planning a snap General Election and that after years of failing to invest in the Police, the NHS and Education–to name just a few areas–you were worried people might notice you’d run their services into the ground, wouldn’t you want to present an advert for how with another term you could fix the problems you’d caused?
The Spending Review has been thrown together so quickly it doesn’t even include data from the latest economic forecasts, consequently the money it’s talking about spending may or may not even exist. What we’re getting now is a live party political broadcast, rather than a genuine commitment to invest in our services.
Before the announcement had even been made promises were already beginning to unravel. For all the pledges to increase the size of the Police, it turns out that few of those hired will be genuine frontline police officers, on promised spending for the NHS–of which our Crawley was given none–it transpires the money ‘given’ is what they had actually already earned, and schools will have to wait three years before getting the £7.1bn which has been announced, all the while rising costs widen the gap between what they need and what they’re given.
People are smart enough to see through the performance, to know to ask how much money is coming to Crawley and when, and why if money is available we’ve had to suffer the loss of services for years.