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  • Writer's picturePhillip Ullmann

Autumn Statement

In the Palace of Westminster this week, I heard a comment made from the era of Harold Wilson and probably quite a few centuries before, in the time of Cicero.

“We must listen to the people…”

My view is that government must do just that. But worship of the godlike power of the markets has left most people wanting and the charge that Mr Hunt should have “gone further” will be heard again and again.

For me, the Statement was like the emergency triage that an injured patient needs when on the operating table.

It provides some measures to stabilise the situation but the blood transfusion (I see money as blood, a nutritional flow through the nation’s body) was insufficient.

Mr Hunt’s focus on Energy, Infrastructure and Innovation as the three themes to develop the economy are broadly correct but the approach less so.

For me energy has to be the first priority. It’s vital for people that they have heating for their homes and reliable sources of power to do their jobs, teach their children and care for those in need.

Business needs stable supplies and predictable costs, yet the supply side is the problem.

We’ve handed over control of our energy assets to companies happy that market prices soar whilst their costs remain the same.

We are beholden to them, and no one holds them to account.

The outcome? Mass misery and the death of the elderly and vulnerable. I have warned already of the dangers of current energy policy and will return to the topic in the future.

More interesting for now was to hear the focus on Levelling Up.

Not simply the large-scale spending on infrastructure – matching the size of the initial investment – I was more taken with the reference to civic entrepreneurship.

More elected mayors around the nation is progress as long as their powers and funding increase. This is a promising development and could help to champion initiatives (although local councils will tell you tax revenues are falling way short in countless corners of the country).

How can we unlock the passion of local groups to create lasting improvements that truly benefit people in their areas? Civic trusts operating under covenants to manage local assets could be a game changer in this regard.

Fundamentally I see the need for a reset that feeds through the whole economic system. A healthy economy thrives on the power of human relationships, driven by principles and working for the benefit of all.

We must rethink how we use money, and most importantly credit, to supply these needs.

We’ll be tackling all this in my live debate with Danny Kruger MP and Lord Maurice Glasman next Tuesday 22nd November. Please join and question all the panellists.



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