Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Darling's budget - a cheap shirt, a small bit of foam and a big bloke bumping into you

What does today's budget mean?

- Darling announced a £25 million 'green homes initiative. As Steve Webb points out, this is the equivalent of about £1 per home in the UK. For which I can buy about 0.6 square metres of loft insulation material which you will have to fit yourself. As you can see from the photo on the right, that's not a lot! (we're being very generous about what you can get for that amount of money).

- £60 million over three years for equipping people to return to the workplace. Well, there are about 1.6 million people who are unemployed and a further 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit - a total of about 4.2 million people, all of whom, presumably, would like to return to the workforce in some form or another. So £4.76 per person per year to help them return to work. This is enough for them to be able to almost buy a shirt and tie set from Asda. But not enough for a person in Launceston to be able to go by bus to the nearest big city (Plymouth) for, say, a job interview.

- There will be £200m extra for schools to raise GCSE results. The equivalent of an extra NQT (that's newly qualified teacher) per secondary school.

- Anti plastic bag legislation is promised if the supermarkets don't do something to cut down on the amount they produce. I know that plastic bags are supposedly the bane of modern life, but we actually use ours as bin bags for the kitchen and around the house. It's fair enough to encourage us to use jute or whatever for our shopping, but if we didn't have a small number of shopping bags coming into the house on a regular basis then we would have to buy bin liners at greater cost and (arguably) greater environmental damage.

So how will this be paid for? Well one of the targets is alcohol. The additional beer tax is the equivalent of the Chancellor employing some big bloke to knock into you everytime you buy a pint.

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