Paul Dundon’s Weblog

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A little cheese and a little whine

Six Things You Should Read Before Discussing the Cuts

I’m all for a heated debate and I’ve never let a lack of facts stopped me from expressing an opinion. Still, there’s nothing like actual information to spice up an argument. Here are some resources you should consider looking at the next time you find yourself discussing Osborne’s budget:

The State of the Nation

A quick summary of economic indicators like inflation and employment is available from the ONS.

If you want more detail, the Blue Book is a bit like the company accounts for UK plc, detailing productivity, spending, capital accumulation, and imports and exports. It’s a very technical document, but given a bit of perseverance it will yield its mysteries to you. If you want to know how many people work in agriculture or how much financial services contributes to the economy, look here. Unfortunately, the time needed to gather and analyse the data in the Blue Book means it runs 1-2 years behind the times; look here for later versions.

Government Receipts, Debt and Expenditure

The Public Finances Databank contains historical figures on government income, expenditure and debt as well as a detailed breakdown of income over recent years. If you want to know how much the government owed in 1997, or whether VAT raises more money than corporation tax, this is your source.

Government Expenditure in Detail

Chapter 5 of the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses gives a breakdown of government spending by function. Do the police cost more than schools? Here is where you find out. For an explanation of the sort of things the different categories actually entail, see this website.

Predictions for the Future

How does the government decide what to spend? The budget itself provides a wealth of information about the way the government views the world and national economic situation and the impact it believes policy will have.

How the Government Borrows

Government debt is tied up in a particular sort of financial instrument called “gilts”. The Debt Management Office has a good explanation of what gilts are and how they work.

If, on your travels, you find other interesting resources, let me know and I’ll list them here.

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Filed under: Politics

One Response

  1. Daniel Hill says:

    Thank for this, Paul.

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My Bookshelf

The Golden Bough
The Value of Nothing
The Fire
A Wolf at the Table
Devil Bones

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