2020 Public Services Trust seminar on public services in a cold climate

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11 November 2008
Venue: RSA, 8 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6EZ

Speaker: Vince Cable MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor

As the economic downturn bites, public debt is increasing and revenues are decreasing. The balance of public expenditure, even within the current CSR could also change, as a result of the growth in the benefit bill. What are the choices and options available for policy makers, both in relation to the current recession and the next CSR? The Government appears to be proposing a return to Keynesian economics through counter cyclical investment, particularly on infrastructure/capital projects to stimulate the economy and making a virtue out of maintaining current levels of spending on key public services, all of which will be financed by increased public borrowing. The Liberal Democrats have proposed a stimulus package based on deep cuts in interest rates and tax cuts for those on middle and lower incomes. The Conservatives are adopting a cautious approach, based on criticising the Government's management of the economy, with a heavy emphasis on the politics of "austerity" in the future, but at this stage no clear alternative economic strategy. So where will the new fault lines be between the political parties on public services in a recession?

Few speakers could have been better placed to address this subject than Vince Cable. Widely credited as the sage of the credit crunch, he has been one of the most influential politicians of the last few years.

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