Will the government make the biggest U-turn of all?
Filed under: Tax
The plan to postpone the 3p fuel duty hike until the end of the year is welcome relief for consumers but as a nation we should be more concerned about what this says about the government's grip on our economy.
The fuel duty climbdown represents the latest in a long list of U-turns on everything from pasties and caravans to charitable donations, it seems that every month since the Budget chancellor George Osborne has had to stand up and announce he's got it wrong again.
Are there any changes the chancellor announced in the Budget in March that he will actually push through?
The U-turns, whether you benefit or not, do little to instil faith in our government. Constant tinkering with policy smacks of plans that are ill thought out and a lack of conviction.
Of course the embarrassment factor of the U-turn was increased significantly by Jeremy Paxman's grilling of economic secretary to the Treasury Chloe Smith over the fuel duty change. Whether you agree with Paxman's style or not, it cannot be denied that Smith was ill-prepared and amateurish.
The U-turn also raises questions about the coalition's ability to follow through with its austerity measures. The idea of austerity is to rein in spending and cut tax breaks, so why is Osborne throwing £500 million at motorists with this latest move.
Osborne and Smith have claimed the not insignificant sum will come from departmental savings, although no-one has said from where. Could it be that the government doesn't want to admit it's taken its cue from shadow chancellor Ed Balls who said the £500 million Olympic underspend should fund the fuel hike freeze.
Osborne famously said that he had 'no plan B' when asked what he would do if his austerity measures didn't work. This is looking ever more worrying, if the government can't stick by plan A and there is no plan B, then from where I'm sitting it looks like we have no plan at all.
The questions is how long will it be before the coalition performs the biggest U-turn of all and states its intention to start spending its way out of a recession?