Friday 27 March 2020

One more try is still needed

Just under a week ago, I wondered which would happen first – the Chancellor presenting his fourth attempt at a budget or the Prime Minister imposing the sort of lockdown of which his spokesperson claimed there was ‘zero prospect’.  In the event, it wasn’t even a close-run thing – the PM changed tack within two days, whilst the Chancellor took a whole five days to come up with his fourth effort.
Having seen the content of his fourth budget, we can but hope that it will be no more than a few days more before he presents his fifth, because he still hasn’t got it right.  It’s not that he’s got the scale of things wrong (there is a broad realization of just how much needs to be done) and it’s not that there is anything wrong with the principles underlying it (although there are always details which need to be sorted), it’s just that he seems not to have the remotest understanding of the need for urgency.  By demanding that systems and processes be designed to prevent potential overpayments or outright fraud (and I don’t simply dismiss those concerns), he has ended up with a set of proposals which mean that individuals and companies have to go through an application and assessment process and then get paid in arrears.  That assumes that people and companies either have, or can get access to, sufficient resources to cover their costs for at least a month, and potentially three to four months, with no certainty that they’ll receive anything at the end.  Who’d want to take on extra debt on that basis – even if they can?
It displays a complete lack of understanding of the financial situation of many companies (especially small to medium enterprises) and individuals (whether employed or self-employed), and it still excludes those who may be new to the labour market and have no pre-existing tax records to on which claims can be based.  The cash is needed now, not in a few months’ time, if the government were serious about standing with people rather than simply parroting propaganda and spin about how much they’re doing which seemed to be Sunak’s core message yesterday.  Of course paying out money now without validating claims contains an element of risk, and it’s undoubtedly anathema to a governing class which suspects that everyone is out to get something for nothing at other people’s expense (a suspicion which tells us more about their own modus operandi than it does about the population at large).  But now, today, those risks are lower than the risk of leaving people unable to pay for food and essentials – and any excess can always be clawed back later.
I really do hope that his fifth attempt at a budget will come soon, and that it will respond to the real world of ordinary people rather than the imagined world of the rich and powerful.


Anonymous said...

How come the figures for death are so much worse in Wales than elsewhere in the UK?

No, these people aren't dying in the places where we have an over supply of the elderly. Something else is going on.

Time to end this experiment in devolution me thinks, Wales simply cannot afford to carry on with such abject disregard for human life.

John Dixon said...

The style and content of this comment suggest that you are the same Anon who has a record of saying some very silly things in comments here, but this is about the stupidest and most ill-informed to date. I take it that we can add ‘understanding statistics’ to the list of skills that you don’t possess.

” How come the figures for death are so much worse in Wales than elsewhere in the UK?” Simple - they aren’t. As of yesterday, there were 1408 deaths in the UK; at 5% of the population, one would expect around 70 in Wales, and there have actually been 62. Your premise is just plain wrong.

Even if there were a significant difference between Wales and the rest of the UK, it would tell us nothing at all about the success or otherwise of devolution per se, because ‘devolution’ makes no policy decisions, only governments do. The very most that a difference between Welsh figures and UK figures could tell us is that different policy decisions taken by governments of different colours lead to different outcomes – and that tells us nothing, zero, zilch about whether the institutions of government are appropriate or not. At best, it tells us only about the competence and adequacy of different politicians. And given that there are a whole host of other factors which would need to be considered in working out why there was a difference if such a difference did emerge, I’m not even sure that it would tell us that.

You have drawn what a statistician might call an unwarranted straight line from an invalid premise all the way across to an unjustified conclusion – and demonstrated only that your aversion to any idea of Welsh political expression blinds you to anything remotely resembling a fact. And your comment isn’t even vaguely relevant to the original post either.

dafis said...

Perhaps Anon with his/her capacity for perverse logic might tell us how he/she would set out to mitigate the negative demographic effect of the cumulative migration of ageing people from east of Clawdd Offa. It appears that many of those who come here, and have come over last 20 years or so, who were say over 50 become a progressively greater burden on our services even in normal times. In times of pandemic they have the capacity to distort demand even further and could in a deteriorating scenario contribute to an inflated mortality index, if we accept that advancing age is a key factor. If Devolution has permitted all this then the solution must be secession, not closer integration with dear old mother England!

Anonymous said...

Dafis, do bear in mind that it was the English that brought a modicum of civilized behaviour to Wales via the 'blue book' and do bear in mind that healthcare in its modern form only came to Wales because the English decided it was essential.

Without the English settler Wales has little money and no healthcare ... but it might well be a happier place for those of imaginery Celtic origins.

John Dixon said...


You don’t understand the April Fool concept either, do you? The point about a well-aimed comment on 1st April is that it should be witty – ideally it should have a superficial credibility and then be at least mildly amusing when the reader realises it is a spoof. Your comment fails on all counts – instead it just reads like the deranged outpourings of an English supremacist, for whom actual facts are an inconvenience which need not trouble him, and who can’t understand why the rest of us aren’t overcome with gratitude to the master race for imposing its rule on us.