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Me, me, me, me, me

To disregard what the world thinks of us is not only arrogant but utterly shameless.

For once, the headline isn’t actually referring to my good self as such as headline would do normally.

No, in this instance, I’m referring to the mahoosive ego of our esteemed Chancellor of the Exchequer who is taking all the credit for the act that the UK economy does, indeed seem to be, not only out of recession, but on the rise again.

Georgie-boy is claiming that it is all down to the fact that the Tories/Coalition (depending whether there are any LibDems listening to him at that point) we right all along.

It’s the austerity measures which have won through, he seems to be saying. By “persuading” everyone to tighten their belts to the point of asphyxiation, he has managed to stem the tide of the recession, turning the market forces on their head and making Britain Great again. (Actually, I made that last bit up, but I’m sure he really thinks it, deep down.);

It does, indeed, seem to be true that, not only can things get better, but that they already have. I received a press release the other morning from the Construction Products Association saying Construction Recovery Ahead. I can tell you, it’s been a long time since I saw something that was that upbeat from that august organisation.

The question is, what has caused it? Is it Help to Buy? Surely that couldn’t have worked that well, that quickly? Is it the fact that it was just about time that things got better? Is it the fact that people have generally realised that, actually, as long as they are in a job that’s looking relatively secure then things aren’t really, too bad?

Those of us old enough to have been through the last recession remember the massive scale of repossessions that heralded that collapse of the housing market. We didn’t get that this time, largely because of the historically low interest rates.

Most people, throughout the last few years have still be able to pay their mortgage. Of course, it was the historically low interest rates that helped fuel the financial collapse in the first place. We partied too long and too hard on the back of them.

Actually, I think (and I know I’m not alone in this) that it’s a combination of all of these things. It is time, in terms of general economic cycles that things got better. It is thanks to low interest rates and general confidence amongst the general spending public that money is now worth spending again. Let’s face it, money certainly isn’t worth saving with interest rates where they are. And whether you think that is a good thing or a bad thing depends whether you are a saver or a borrower or a business I suppose.

Confidence amongst the banks has also gone a long way to easing things as well. By which I mean confidence to lend again. Of course, the fact that we’ve had a pretty splendid Summer has also helped, meaning, as it did, that builders could actually get out there and build, instead of staring miserably at the awful weather as they did in 2012.

At BMF Members’ Day this week, Dr Diana Montgomery of the CPA, Stephen Gifford of the CBI and builder Chris Carr all said that things are picking up, but that no-one really wants to mention it too loudly in case it turns out not to be true or we end up jinxing it.

There’s something to be said for that because, despite Help to Buy part 2 (for second hand homes) coming in in January, there are still huge budget cuts in the public sector the true effects of which have yet to be felt.

I know two people, one in local government and one in the NHS, who in the last two months have, respectively, been made redundant and had their working hours reduced, because their departments simply haven’t got the money to do anything else.

Your austerity measures working, then Mr Osborne? Hmm, not so sure.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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