Opinion: It’s time for Osborne to slow down cuts

Grant Prior 13 years ago
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Politicians hate U-turns. But history tells us they aren’t right even half the time so what’s wrong with changing your mind every once in a while?

And surely the time has come for at least a slight rethink over the spending cuts strategy in the light of recent grim figures for the economy.

All sectors seem to be wobbling, with construction the hardest hit of all according to the Government’s own numbers.

George Osborne’s great hope was that the private sector would pick up the slack as public spending was scaled back.

That seemed to be achievable in the early days of the coalition.

But the trend has run out of steam just as the cuts programme is starting to hit home properly.

Analysis of OJEU notices over recent weeks shows public work slowing to a trickle while the only booming area seems to be the highly specialised central London market.

The Chancellor can’t risk a run in the bond markets with a total about turn on his economic policies.

But Osborne can certainly slow things down to give contractors an option if private work is not coming through quick enough.

Suicide bidding and tender lists crammed with competing contractors are sure signs of too many firms chasing too little work.

And there is no light at the end of the tunnel if public work comes to a complete standstill and private clients are too worried about the economy to start new projects.

Most major contractors will be able to tough it out thanks to highly diversified operations here and abroad.

The real victims will be smaller, regional contractors and trade contractors who will be forced to lay off workers or close completely.

That again is a false economy for the country as workers who could be building a better UK are forced to draw the dole.

Osborne doesn’t have to admit his strategy is wrong.

Just that the timing is not 100% right and loosening the reins a little now could save an entire sector of the economy.

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