Press Releases

A Budget that barely scratches the surface” of our deep economic malaise

NEF's response to today’s Autumn Budget

In response to today’s Autumn Budget, Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, said:

We are facing big economic problems as a country, and this Budget barely scratches the surface.

Today the Chancellor announced that the economy is set to grow slower as productivity growth is downgraded. But these are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. They mean more suffering for people who have seen their wages stagnate for a decade and are now set to be £800 a year worse off by the end of this parliament. 

This Budget does almost nothing for them. It has failed to respond to the urgency of the moment.

We needed to see real ambition today. We needed real action on the cost of living. Proper investment in the everyday economy, where so many work, and on which we all rely. And we needed action on land to start tackling the housing crisis and the wealth inequality at the heart of our economy.

Instead, we got a bit of tinkering which will barely be felt by the people who need help most.”

In response to the Budget measures on housing, Miatta continued:

Housing sits at the heart of this country’s crisis of inequality. On the face of it, a £44 billion fund to build homes sounds promising. But look under the bonnet, and you’ll find that very little of this money is new, and barely any of it will go towards building genuinely affordable homes.

The abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers is intended to reduce the cost of housing. But the gains will be felt by sellers not first-time buyers. And of course, it will build precisely none of the affordable homes we need.

The real driver of the housing crisis is land. We heard big talk from the Chancellor about increasing the supply of land to build new homes. So why is the Government selling off land already held by the public?

We need a People’s Land Bank, where public land could be held and used to deliver genuinely affordable housing. That would signal real intent to do something for the people at the sharp end of the housing crisis.”

In response to the Chancellor’s announcement of investment in research and development, Miatta continued:

Serious investment to upgrade the UK’s economic infrastructure is welcome. A new £2.5 billion investment fund for R&D will support the growth of UK tech businesses, with £550 million for tech developments including artificial intelligence, 5G and full fibre broadband.

But that can’t be the end of it. This investment signals an industrial strategy for cities and research centres alone. We need to think about the towns and places which aren’t so connected to global growth. We need investment in the everyday economy, not just the shiny bits. And we need transport and devolution policies which empower people to build stronger local economies wherever they live.”

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