Good morning. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will be delivering his spending review this afternoon and he will be hoping it turns out to be more robust than most of the other big financial announcements he has made this year. On 11 March, when he presented his budget, he announced spending worth £12bn to help businesses cope with coronavirus. Less than a week later those plans were effectively in tatters and he was back announcing a support package of loans and grants worth £350bn. That pattern has been repeated several times this year. Ensuring that economic policy stays ahead of events has turned out to be near impossible.
That is why the spending review has been scaled back already. Originally it was meant to determine government spending for the next three years (which is normal for a spending review). Instead it is largely going to be a one-year review because, with so much uncertainty about what the economy will look like next year, making long-term plans would be rash.
As is normal for a big financial statement like this, key elements have already been briefed already. Here is a good summary from my colleague Richard Partington.
But much of the interest this afternoon will be not on what’s in the spending review document (the government’s plans) but on what’s in the Office for Budget Responsibility’s assessment of the state of the economy. According to Lord Ashcroft’s thorough, fair and very useful new biography of Sunak, Going for Broke, the chancellor is a big fan of statistics and is fond of quoting a maxim from his entrepreneur father in law, Narayana Murthy. The book quotes Sunak as saying:
One of my favourite quotes of his [Murthy’s] is: ‘In God we trust, but everyone else needs to bring data to the table.’ It’s something I try to live by as well. You know, I’m always interested in getting the data; getting the facts.
Well, we’re all going to get the data this afternoon, and it is expected to be very grim indeed.
It is normally hard for the opposition to get much attention on the day of a big Treasury statement like this, but Labour has launched a pre-emptive strike overnight by accusing the government of creating a “jobs crisis”. In a statement Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, said:
The Conservatives’ irresponsible choices have wasted and mismanaged billions, led to our country experiencing the worst downturn in the G7, and created a jobs crisis.
Whether it’s building starter homes or garden bridges, this prime minister and his government talk a good game. But they haven’t delivered on their promises – and regional inequality has got worse under their watch.
They clapped for key workers – but now they’re freezing their pay, and looking to scrap planned minimum wage increases for the private sector. That will hit people’s pockets and pull spending out of our small businesses and High Streets when many are already on their knees.
Instead, we need a relentless focus on jobs and growth to get the economy back on its feet. The government must act to recover jobs, retrain workers and rebuild business, as part of a longer-term plan to make our country the best place in the world to grow up in and to grow old in.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: HMRC publishes statistics for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.
12.30pm: Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, delivers his spending review.
1.30pm: The Office for Budget Responsibility publishes its latest forecasts.
2.30pm: The OBR holds a press conference.
Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for most of this year but today, although I will be covering the latest Covid developments, I will mostly be focusing on the spending review.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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