Tip for Today – Everything you need to know about the Comphrensive Spending Review
9 October, 2007
Oh joy of joys, it is the day you have all been waiting for, The CSR. For politicos if not the general population the comprehensive spending review is like three years of Christmas and Birthdays a little bit early as we find out what the government has decided to spend our money on over the next 3 financial years. This time there is less money sloshing about than in earlier CSR’s but will see what tricks the treasury can pull out of the bag to push money to frontline public services.
Ok we have Alaister Darling doing the speech so gags and knock about witty repartee may not be the first thing on the menu but we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of what happens. It is also a useful guide into the priorities of the Brown government and which cabinet ministers can play the whitehall game and successfully defend their departmental budgets from Treasury efficiency gains.
Now that the election has been put off for the forseeable future the comphrensive spending review is going to be a big moment in whether we win next time. Covering as it does Fiscal Years 08-09, 09-10, 10-11 the next election will be fought when the spending set out today will take effect. Now with less money coming in to the treasury do so a still healthy but reduced growth forcast it puts the government in a tighter spot than before. How much fat can they trim from governemnt spending without hitting services that voters want? How much is the government prepared to borrow and still stay inline with the golden rule that borrowing over the economic cycle is only to invest?
Now this will be a big day for the Chancellor. His photo will be the one that the papers use tomorrow to cover the story but as he is in the political lexicon under safe pair of hands you could be forgiven if your eye wondered from the Chancellor’s distinctive white hair and black eyebrows to the people around him. One will be the Prime Minister another will be the other cabinet member from the treasury Andy Burnham.
Being Chief Secretary to the Treasury ensures that you get about as much media coverage as a stack of dull national audit office reports despite his recent attempts. So you can be forgiven for not having heard of him before but if we win next time decisions on government spending he will have been party to will have played a much bigger role than he will get public recognition for but I suspect the Prime Minister will show suitable gratitude at an appropiate reshiffle
He also supports a proper football team even if it is Everton rather than the chatterati option of Arsenal (Ainsley Harriot is a Gunner). His constituency in Leigh run a formidable operation. The Billy Bragg gig was the best Labour party fundraiser I have ever been to. It also helps that they stick the Labour vote on industrial scales rather than count it. It has been Labour since the 1920’s and gives Burnham a secure base to go on to change the country, just like Sedgefield has done in the past.