‘Tis the season to be confused. George Osborne will travel to the House of Commons today to deliver his “Autumn Statement”. Did no one tell the Chancellor that we’re now into December? Maybe they thought “Winter Statement” sounded too depressing.
But funnily enough the message will be one of the sunniest Mr Osborne has been able to deliver in years. The economy is now growing quite strongly and the Chancellor is set to unveil some sharply upgraded growth projections for the coming years. Yet I wonder how many i readers feel as if the economy is “booming” as the headlines tell us? Real wages are still falling as inflation continues to outstrip average pay growth. And we all know energy bills are on the up. Living standards remain under serious pressure, as Tesco boss Philip Clarke pointed out yesterday.
What the Chancellor must do today is lay out a credible plan to deliver rising living standards for the majority of the population. All the rosy forecasts in the world will not convince people the good times are back. They will believe it when they feel the benefit in their pockets.
Over the five years since the global financial crisis, the majority of people have seen no real income growth. The Chancellor would do well to reflect that painful reality in his speech. Anything else would be, well, confusing.