George Osborne’s Missing Billion

February 20, 2013 8:15 am

On the day of the Autumn Statement we noted that George Osborne had only managed to claim that borrowing was falling – and flummox Ed Balls in the process – by claiming the receipts from the 4G mobile spectrum auction that hadn’t even happened yet. At the time we asked:

Has Osborne factored in money not yet received from a 4G spectrum auction which hasn’t taken place yet, in an attempt to cover the fact that he was set to borrow more this year than last year?

The answer was yes, of course – and worse than that, now that the auction is over, we know that Osborne overestimated the amount the auction would raise by over a billion pounds – £1.16 billion to be precise. That means there’s now a billion pound hole in Osborne’s figures, meaning it will have to be plugged with – you guessed it – more borrowing.

Here’s a graph showing how far off Osborne was on the 4G auction:

osbornesmissingbillion

This is just the latest gamble of Osborne’s that hasn’t paid off. But it’s terrifying to see how he plays fast and loose with the nation’s finance. Was his Autumn Statement wheeze worth it?

Update: Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves has responded to the 4G auction – and warned people to be vigilant of further “smoke and mirrors” when borrowing figures are released tomorrow:

“This is yet another blow to George Osborne’s failing economic plan. It shows how foolish and short-termist the Chancellor was to bank this cash in the autumn statement to make his borrowing figures look less bad. He couldn’t bring himself to admit that borrowing was up so far this year but his trickery has now badly backfired.

“We will need to look out for more smoke and mirrors when tomorrow’s borrowing figures are published. The only fair way to judge what is happening to the public finances will be to exclude the short-term transfer of money from the Bank of England’s quantitative easing scheme.

“Whatever wheezes George Osborne tries, he cannot hide from the fact that no growth on his watch has led to billions more borrowing as the costs of economic failure mount. Instead of more accounting trickery what we really need from this Chancellor is action to kick-start our flatlining economy.”

  • Alexwilliamz

    I suspect that Osborne has a rich uncle who has secretly promised him a trillion pounds if he can lose at least 100 billion with no assets to show for it, he’s got 2 years left, can he do it?

  • Pingback: Another Fall in Unemployment Despite Static Growth - Guy Fawkes' blog

  • DaveL

    It sounds like a Labour blogger is saying borrowing is bad…. unless you want to suggest some cuts to consider?

  • Monkey_Bach

    Prepare yourselves for more Tory attempts to make swinging cuts in the social security budget. Eeek.

  • El_Sid

    “Let’s use that money from the 4G sale and build over the next two years: 100,000 new homes – affordable homes to rent and to buy – creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and getting our construction industry moving again. Add to that a stamp duty holiday for first time buyers buying homes up to £250,000 and we can deliver real help for people aspiring to get on the property ladder.

    Conference, a clear and costed plan to kick-start the economy and get people back to work”
    Ed Balls, 2012 conference speech

  • http://twitter.com/ChairmanDavey Davey J

    4G auction figures based on the independent OBR forecast? What would Labour have done?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Edmunds/100000511487051 Bill Edmunds

    Just like that other Public Schoolboy, Billy Bunter, George will include the Postal Order that he is expecting. Yaroo Chaps!!!

  • TomFairfax

    The technical press last year were to say the least, accurate in their assessment of the income from the 4G auction. But then el reg uses ‘government IT consultant’ in its articles as an example of abuse, related to not knowing the location of elbows and major orifaces with respect to IT and technology. Lord alone knows why the Treasury and the OBR thought they knew better.

Latest

  • Comment Walk on, with hope in your heart

    Walk on, with hope in your heart

    Today our thoughts are first and foremost with the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Today will be difficult for them. It marks 25 years since 96 innocent men, women and children were killed at the Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield. It marks 25 years since the orchestrated campaign to denigrate the memory of the deceased began. And it marks 25 years of totally preventable pain, anguish and heartache for the families of the victims and the survivors of that fateful crush. […]

    Read more →
  • News Clegg accused of using public money to fund party strategist

    Clegg accused of using public money to fund party strategist

    Nigel Farage has come under fire today over his use of public money, accused of claiming expenses for an office on which he pays no rent – but he’s not the only political figure accused of using taxpayers’ money to fund his party today. Nick Clegg could be summoned in front of a Commons select committee to explain the role of Ryan Coetzee, his most senior special adviser. Mr Coetzee’s official job title is Head of Strategy and he is […]

    Read more →
  • Featured The government are trying to tell you that you’re not squeezed. They’re wrong

    The government are trying to tell you that you’re not squeezed. They’re wrong

    Have you heard? You’re not squeezed anymore. That’s right! After four years of prices rising faster than wages, meaning you’re worse off each month than you were the month before, it’s all ok again and you can get back on with your lives. Rejoice! What’s that you say? You don’t feel any better off? That four years of declining living standards have left your monthly budget a monthly chore? You’re beholden to credit card companies, payday loan companies or even […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Talk of a breakaway “Workers’ Party” is dangerous and wrong

    Talk of a breakaway “Workers’ Party” is dangerous and wrong

    On Friday, for the second time in recent weeks, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said something really important and dangerous that ought to have caused a reaction across the entire labour movement and Labour Party. But virtually no one reacted. According to the Guardian Len “repeated his warning that his members may force a split from Labour and urge support for a new workers’ party if Miliband fails to set out a radical vision to inspire people before the next […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Jim Murphy has set out an ambitious (and Labour) vision for development

    Jim Murphy has set out an ambitious (and Labour) vision for development

    Since its earliest days Labour has been an internationalist party and proud of it, too. From Keir Hardy and Harold Wilson to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, those who shaped Labour’s vision in the 20th and early 21st Century regarded the fight against poverty overseas as a natural extension of the fight against poverty at home. If Labour wins in 2015, we look forward to our proud tradition continuing. But with the clear focus of the current leadership on the […]

    Read more →