Austerity as the new normal

Financial Times front page 5 December 2012

The Financial Times is only one of the papers today highlighting that the current austerity drive will continue beyond the next election.

This, surely, is a good thing. One of the reasons that our economy is in such a mess is that the previous government spent too much money on programmes that didn’t work; they borrowed that money; and they didn’t ensure that they got value out of the money they taxed from us.

I have absolutely no problem at all with every government from now on being required to think austerely. Governments should tax us as little as possible, and they should spend that money responsibly.

I have written time and again about the need for a proper examination of what we spend, on what, how much it costs, and what value it produces. I want every government to properly consider what it does with our money. Flabby, wasteful governments cannot lead competitive, innovative economies; ensuring lean and effective governance is one of (but not of course the only) way that we can survive in a competitive world.

Austerity itself is not the only thing that matters, as I argue constantly. But as a basis for how the government spends our money, it’s a pretty good place to start.

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