Spending Review: What does 2021 have in store?

Read our latest blog by our Managing Director, Caroline Woffenden. 

Rishi Sunak is one of the most popular politicians on the front bench and, the politics aside, I fully understand why. He’s bright, driven, appealing. He oozes contained, yet steely, confidence – and is an excellent communicator. The sort of feller you want to head up the Treasury, not least in times of international economic crisis.

Yesterday, he set out his Spending Review – aka how much taxpayers’ money will be allocated to various branches of government.

It’s no headline that the impact of this year’s pandemic has resulted in significant economic uncertainty and inevitable lasting damage.

A Chancellor who has already committed an eye watering £280 billion to get the UK through the corona virus period, Sunak confirmed that NHS workers will see a pay rise (clap, clap, clap); that the minimum wage will rise; and those in the public sector earning under the average wage of £24,000 pa will receive at least £250 extra.

Education will also see more investment. As will employment programmes.

Over £150 million will be made available to help rough sleepers; with defence, counter terrorism and Brexit to receive funds too. Throw in some small change for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations (a four day weekend next year, for monarchists and republicans alike…) – and £118m towards the Commonwealth Games due in Birmingham in 2022 and that’s about , errrr, the sum of it.

In my view, Sunak’s working to both balance the books and soften the edges. A reflection of Keynesian economics (economic intervention to maximise performance, for those of you who didn’t opt to study politics and economics at degree level…).

He’s made cuts. Of course he has made cuts. He has had to make cuts. Overseas aid generating the most headlines yesterday evening by the looks of it (and prompting a Foreign Office minister to resign). A pay freeze for next year has also ignited criticism from the opposition benches.

Yet, The Confederation of British Industry, the bastion of the local, regional and national economy has noted that the review ‘lays the foundations for a brighter economic future’. And I’d agree.

It’s a tough road ahead. GDP will continue to shrink, borrowing – a peacetime record – will continue to soar. We are quite simply in an economic – as well as health – emergency, but with that we all have a responsibility to play our part: to review, to re cut, to lay-out plans – and crucially to communicate that intention and confidence to help re build our high streets, our businesses communities and our world stage presence.

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