Rishi Sunak put paid to fiscal conservatism today with a raft of spending announcements with few tax rises to cushion it.
A huge increase in government borrowing is now likely as Sunak splashed the cash in his first budget since being appointed Chancellor at the start of the year.
Pledging £600 billion to power “a decade of growth for everybody” he unveiled the biggest public spending package in decades as austerity budgets became a thing of the past.
Over the next five years, an average of £120 billion per year will be spent on roads, railways, broadband, housing and research.
He also put aside £30 billion to help the economy respond to coronavirus, an extra £6 billion of funding for the NHS and £5 billion to bring gigabit-capable broadband into the hardest to reach places of the UK.
OBR forecasts borrowing will be £14.6bn higher this year, nearly £30bn higher the year after. Total borrowing will be £66.7bn, similar levels to the middle of the last decade. pic.twitter.com/03oMmxvqKn— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) March 11, 2020
Commenting on the “largest sustained fiscal boost” in more than 30 years, Andrew Verity said: “It seems a budget deficit is a good thing when you need one…”
Nick Reeves added that the “borrow and spend” budget will leave the government a “monstrous hangover of debt”.
He said: “Coronavirus spending is necessary, but the rest is populist irresponsibility intended to paper over the massive damage which will be caused by Brexit.”
James Melville also championed the end of austerity, saying:
“Today’s budget was, in effect, an admission by the Tory government of their own failures over the past 10 years. But credit where credit is due, Rishi Sunak gave a highly polished performance and a set of long overdue stimulus funding packages.”