In January, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced his five key priorities for 2023. Conveniently for him, his first priority was something that is very likely to happen regardless of what his government does. Sunak’s top pledge to ‘halve inflation’ came a few days after just about every new-year economic prediction said that inflation would fall by at least half during 2023. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt adopted a similar hollow ploy in his budget statement yesterday, setting himself up to take credit for something that is already happening anyway.
Alongside all the familiar, disingenuous boasts about promoting growth and business investment, Hunt also placed a distinct emphasis on this being a ‘back to work’ budget. He highlighted the importance of ‘tackling labour shortages that stop [businesses] recruiting… by breaking down barriers that stop people working’. Yet ever since the threat of further pandemic shutdowns lifted last year, people have already been returning to work, pretty much as normal. So why the focus on getting people back to work now?
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