Brown's initiatives: The promise and the reality

Car industry

Initiative: In January, Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, announced a £2.3bn scheme of loans and guarantees for car makers to invest in green technology.

Reason for action: Growing numbers of car firms and component manufacturers have axed jobs or put staff on short weeks. Almost a million people are believed to work in the motor industry. The sector warned that world-beating technology was in danger of being lost overseas.

What happened next: The Business Department said yesterday the scheme would be finalised "within weeks". An industry source said it was "far off coming". The van maker LDV is on the brink of closure.

Delivery: 2/10

Small businesses

Initiative: The Government allocated a £20bn loan support package for small- and medium-sized businesses struggling during the credit crunch in January. It included a £10bn "working capital scheme" and up to £1.3bn of bank loans to firms with a turnover of up to £25m.

Reason for action: Lack of credit in the banking system is threatening to scupper companies that otherwise have a sound business model.

What happened next: The Government says £40m has been advanced to 400 companies from the £1.3bn pot. The Federation of Small Businesses said there had only been a "trickle of lending". Some 60,000 firms have used a scheme enabling them to defer tax.

Delivery: 5/10

Public works

Initiative: The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, announced in the Pre-Budget Report in November that £3bn of public works – upgrading motorways, improving schools and energy efficiency projects – would be brought forward to 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Reason for action: The next two years are likely to be the worst of the recession, with unemployment expected to top three million. The move will provide work for the construction industry and benefit infrastructure. Gordon Brown said the initiative would "create probably 100,000 additional jobs".

What happened next: The money will begin to be spent from April. Dozens of projects are on hold because of a lack of cash and firms' reluctance to invest.

Delivery: 1/10

Housing markets

Initiative: Suspension of stamp duty for houses between £125,000 and £175,000 for a year at a cost of £600m; it will help 500,000 people.

Reason for action: The property market was in crisis by last summer, with the number of new mortgages plunging by 71 per cent to a historic low of 33,000 in July.

What happened next: Last year was one of the worst for sales in decades. Since Christmas, the National Association of Estate Agents said the average number of househunters on estate agents' books had risen from 200 to 242 – but they still sell only six properties per month.

Delivery: 5/10


Initiative: Mr Darling's Pre-Budget Report contained a surprise cut in the VAT rate from 17.5 to 15 per cent, effective from 1 December until 1 January 2010. Reason for action: Fears of a collapse in confidence on the high street spurred the Government to pump £12.5bn into the economy.

What happened next: The meltdown did not materialise, although the value of sales dropped by 0.8 per cent compared with December 2007. It is a moot point how much difference the VAT cut made: retailers were already slashing prices.

Delivery: 4/10


Initiative: Mr Darling has unveiled two spectacular bailouts for Britain's largest banks and taken huge taxpayer stakes in some. In October, up to £400bn of public money was made available to the largest banks to save the banking system from collapse and get banks lending to each other. It included £250bn in loan guarantees and £100bn of short-term loans from the Bank of England. Last month, the Treasury announced a state-backed insurance scheme against banks' exposure to bad debt to get banks lending. The Bank of England will be able to buy up to £50bn worth of "toxic assets" in companies to inject fresh cash into the markets. On Thursday, the Royal Bank of Scotland struck a deal with the Treasury that will see the Government inject £25.5bn into the bank and insure £325bn of assets. Talks on a similar insurance deal with Lloyds continue. The deal could take the taxpayer stake in RBS up to 95 per cent.

Reason for action: Some of the world's largest banks were teetering on the brink of collapse in the autumn and needed vast capital injections to keep them afloat. A second bailout was announced to try to unblock lending. Thursday's action to insure toxic assets is widely seen as the last throw of the dice to unblock lending.

What happened next: Despite posting vast losses, RBS and the merged Lloyds/HBOS superbank have not collapsed, although efforts to secure their future and isolate "toxic" assets continue. However, ministers have yet to crack the crucial issue of restoring lending, seen by most commentators as the key to economic recovery.

Delivery: 4/10

Home energy efficiency

Initiative: The £910m programme, offered with energy companies, included free cavity and loft insulation for pensioners and poorer households and an offer of half-price insulation for every family. Ministers announced a freeze on fuel bills for 500,000 with low incomes and promised to lift cold-weather payments from £8.50 a week to £25 a week for pensioners, disabled people and unemployed families with children under five if temperatures dropped below freezing for more than a week.

Reason for action: Announced in September, this was the first of the major initiatives designed to help Britons beat the downturn. Despite union criticism that "lagging the loft" would not help hard-pressed families, ministers argued that upgrading housing would provide jobs and cut spending.

What happened next: The package gave extra cash under the Carbon Emission Reduction Target program- me funded by energy companies, offering free insulation for those on benefits and over 70, with up to half-price loft and cavity wall insulation for other householders. The number of people receiving cavity wall and loft insulation under the scheme has since nearly doubled to 400,000.

Delivery: 5/10


Initiative: Rescue packages to help people cover their mortgages. A scheme to allow households to defer mortgage interest for up to two years if they suffer a drop in income will start in April. Benefit rules have been changed from January to allow the unemployed to get mortgage interest paid after 13 weeks on the dole rather than the previous 39 weeks. Ministers pledged to ensure court rules encourage lenders to see repossessions as the last resort.

Reasons for action: Ministers have been worried at the sharp rise in repossessions since the downturn.

What happened next: The mortgage relief scheme for middle-class households will be on stream next month after talks with lenders. The Government moved in December to cut a time lag between claiming benefits and getting help with mortgage payments. The first to benefit should get payments next month. Civil court rules requiring lenders and homeowners to try to resolve problems before repossession takes place came into force this month.

Delivery: 5/10

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn