LONDON (Reuters) - Chancellor George Osborne delivered his autumn budget statement to parliament on Tuesday.
Following are reactions to his speech.
“In the space of just over 48 minutes the Chancellor George Osborne has effectively destroyed any remaining credibility of the Coalition as a friend of green jobs, green growth and protection of the environment. His Autumn Statement is a polluter’s charter.
“The idea that transport congestion can be solved by building more roads is absurd. It needs to be tackled by investing in efficient public transport rather than a knee-jerk return to failed 1970s thinking.”
“We welcome the Government setting the framework that will entice much needed investment into infrastructure in the UK. The engineering community must now work with government and investors to deliver the technical detail required to enable these investments to be made and projects to be deliverable.”
“Our recovery is as non existent as the Chancellor’s apparent understanding of economics. Growth has stalled, and experts are predicting the double dip will hit. What will it take for the government to realise Plan A is failing?
“Not only is austerity hitting growth - the way it is being applied means unfairness is growing. The government’s cuts and austerity agenda is hitting women, the young, and making those who are less able to pay plug the deficit. Meanwhile it is still billions in bonuses for bankers. This is only storing up trouble for the future.”
“George Osborne has ratcheted up the class war and has made it clear through his attack on pay and employment rights that he wants the workers to keep taking the hit while the rich get richer. After two years of a freeze, pay for millions of key workers will go up by 1 percent in the next two years.
“With inflation over 5 percent, and the increase in pension contributions, that means nurses and the others we rely on will be around 25 percent worse off after four years of this ConDem government while top bosses pay goes up by 12 percent a year. That’s a scandal.”
ANIL STOCKER, CO-FOUNDER OF SME FUNDING FIRM MARKETINVOICE
“The National Loan Guarantee Scheme that has been unveiled today should be commended for its aspiration to reduce the cost of finance for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs).
“When this scheme expires in two years time, you have to wonder if we will be faced with the same problems that we are facing now. Government underwriting of small business loans is not sustainable in the long-run and viable private sector alternatives should be encouraged.”
“It’s the kitchen sink budget. He’s got all the bad news out of the way in one go. He clearly doesn’t want to come back in the Spring and revise the forecasts down again so he’s got all the bad news out. I think he’s very realistic on growth and unemployment. It doesn’t mean there’s not downside risks but he’s incredibly realistic. Borrowing higher than I expected, but I think he’s hit the nail on the head.”
“In terms of the forecasts, there aren’t any major surprises. Almost needless to say, the OBR has reduced the GDP profile and rate of borrowing forecast but the chancellor is still able to claim that he’s meeting both of his fiscal targets in five years time.
“Many of the measures which he’s announced have been already flagged over the past week so no huge surprises there. The OBR is not forecasting recession but obviously these are only forecasts and are subject to uncertainty.”
“We take slight issue with some of the forecasts he’s published for GDP particularly in the back years, very rosy projections in 2015-16. A little bit optimistic on the growth forecasts but overall not a bad budget so far.”
“The thing that stands out for us is the cumulative borrowing increase. That’s more than we had looked for. It’s obviously partly the extent of the near-term growth rate cut which he’s announced and also the reductions in terms of the trend rate and the assumptions on the smaller output gap.
“The thing that stands out is the scale of the cumulative increase in borrowing and the absence, looking at my screens, of any real market reaction to that which surprises me a little bit.”
“I don’t think there’s anything particularly surprising whether in terms of the OBR numbers or the response of the chancellor.
“There’s obviously significant downside to the growth forecast that he’s presented both in the near term because of the euro debt crisis and certainly clinging to the medium term where we have these growth rates of above 2 percent rising to 3 percent which seem completely far-fetched to us.
“It does raise issues both about the policy response and also about UK credit worthiness. I certainly wouldn’t be encouraging him to be aggressively tightening to compensate at the moment.
“What we see in terms of headline numbers of the OBR forecasts veers towards the over-optimistic end of the spectrum.”
“These are very realistic growth numbers and are more pessimistic than numbers put out by the banks. The numbers are broadly in line with the OECD forecasts, which is realistic, as is the upward revision of the budget deficit given the problems the UK is facing.”
COLIN MCLEAN, FUND MANAGER AT SVM ASSET MANAGEMENT, EDINBURGH
“The growth forecast is still a little bit unrealistic and higher than the market believes. You question whether they can see through the plan.”
HOWARD ARCHER, CHIEF UK & EUROPEAN ECONOMIST, IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT
“The near-term forecasts are broadly similar to our own but I think the long-term forecasts — out to 2016 — are very optimistic given that fiscal restraints will continue for quite some time and the uncertainty created by the euro zone crisis.
“2011 and 2012 are broadly in line with expectations but from 2013 onward we start to get pessimistic.
“The only strong card the chancellor has is the fiscal restraint he’s looking at.”
Reporting by Rhys Jones, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Matthew Scuffham, Sarah Young; Compiled by Paul Hoskins