My latest article in the Cornish Guardian addressed recent data published on economic performance. It was as follows:
Statistics have been at the core of recent arguments about the economy, with political and other groups focussing on different aspects of the data.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the
Kingdom economy grew by 1.9% in 2013 – the
strongest rate of growth since 2007.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer predictably welcomed the figures and used them to claim that the Government’s economic policies were working. He was reported as telling the BBC that: "There is plenty more to do, but we're heading in the right direction."
Equally predictably, others disagreed with George Osborne. Many preferred to comment on the “cost-of-living crisis” suffered by many working people, who are struggling to pay their bills and can see no recovery at all.
So who is right?
Well, the ONS may be recording growth for the
Kingdom as a whole, but the regional picture
is very varied. Much of the recent growth has, once again, been centred on London
and the South of England – while other areas have fared much less well.
The latest “county” figures – dating to the previous year of 2012 – show the Cornish economy had slipped back during the last two years. It is now the region with the lowest economic performance, at only 61.2% of the
George Osborne claims he is “rebalancing the British economy." I feel it is about time he attempted to tackle the unbalanced nature of
economy and the massive difference between the various regions.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has meanwhile published a report which shows that living standards have fallen dramatically since the recession began. And economists believe they will not reach pre-crisis levels for a number of years.
The report found that between 2008 and 2013, inflation rose by 20%, while energy prices shot up by 60%, with food prices increasing by 30% over the same period. As a consequence, the income of a “mid-range” household is estimated to be about 6% below what it was pre-recession.
The report also found that the impact on poorer families is even more severe, because a much greater proportion of the spending of the less-well-off goes on the inflated cost of food and energy.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, it is many of these poorer families that will be squeezed even harder with the Government’s incoming cuts to benefits and tax credits.