I read the pre-Budget speech with an element of horror. The UK government is going on a spending spree on our behalf, and we will be owing a small fortune as a result. I remember from those sketchy Economy lectures at Uni, that in event of a recession, a government could increase government spending. Never do I remember that that included the fact that it meant each individual would be encouraged to spend, spend, spend in spite of the fact that you don’t know where your future income will be coming from. I do understand that it is a catch-22 situation: if we don’t spend, businesses do badly and can’t be sustained and everything flushes down the proverbial pan.
However, only a few weeks ago during the thick of the banking melt-down, I listened to a programme on the radio where we, as the public, were reprimanded for living outside our means. We had a role to play in this financial melt-down and we were certainly partly to blame. If we didn’t cultivate such a use-credit-to-spend and spend-what-you-cannot-afford culture, we wouldn’t be where we are. I was feeling partly proud and partly smug: both Tim and I are credit free. We owe very little – just our mortgage actually. We were therefore not to blame for the crisis.
However, now I hear from the government that if I really wanted to do my bit, I ought to take out that credit card, make use of the lines of credit that are available to me, and go on a gigantic spending spree: this way I would be doing my bit for my country and the economy. (Okay, so England isn’t really “my country”, but you know what I am getting at). The fact that I have zero job security, and that in fact I don’t have a job after January shouldn’t make me want to gather my pennies and put them in a box under my bed for a rainy day. (Well I can’t trust a bank to keep my money safe after all). And what do I get in return from the government in future for doing my bit? Increased duty, increased NI, increased tax. In fact, if I work really hard, and I can increase my earnings to over £100k a year, I can look forward to the equivalent of 50% income tax. Wow!
Is it only me, or does it feel like the hard-working, gut-busting, career-risk-taking amongst us, get screwed over? There is certainly no benefit in being a singleton or couple with no children…