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  1. Wealth
July 31, 2013

Even as the economy heads up, our demographics head down

By Spear's

A closer look at the UK numbers is a salutary reminder of just how far Nos 10 and 11 have to travel to get the public finances in order

What a summer for Team GB! The British Lions victorious Down Under; Andy beating all comers at Wimbledon; a Brit taking the Yellow Jersey in Paris for the second year running; and the Aussies thrashed at Lords as England go up 2-0 in the fight to recover the Ashes. And, mercifully, no football anywhere! Then the arrival of the Royal baby boy, so there are now enough kings lined up for take-off to see us all into the final departure lounge.

Now comes the news that business confidence is returning and GDP and mortgage lending are up as Britain pulls ahead – of everyone, just about. The bad news is that the US economy is faltering, the BRICS are in the doldrums, especially China where major doubts remain, and the EU is dead in the water. The international outlook is still decidedly bad, and that is not good news for UK plc.

A closer look at the UK numbers is a salutary reminder of just how far Nos 10 and 11 have to travel to get the public finances in order. It seems the Coalition has run out of collective will and cohesion over the huge deficit it is running – well over £100 billion this year.

It’s just not possible to ring-fence education and health and most of the social welfare budgets and bring the excess down to a balanced budget, let alone to begin to repay the national debt which is approaching 100 per cent of GDP.

Population problem

But it’s worse than that, because the demographics of the nation are also moving in a very negative way – the UK needs to be racking up surpluses now against the increasing future costs. A recent House of Lords report showed the problem up in all its implications:

> 51 per cent more people over 65 by 2030

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> Double the number of over-85s

> People requiring persistent treatment will have doubled, and

> Double the number of cases of dementia

Meanwhile, Eds Milliband and Balls have still got their heads in the clouds, as they go about maintaining that the last Labour government’s accelerating rate of expenditure, of 4.4 per cent in real terms (against 0.7 per cent for the previous seventeen years of Tory rule), was not to blame for the current situation! In fact the two Eds are already suffering economic dementia by any normal criteria.

The next government – which mustn’t be formed by the two Eds or we will all be bust – has got to get a tighter grip on state spending, or the private sector recovery will be swamped. As Thatcher so accurately put it: ‘The trouble with socialists is that they run out of other people’s money!’

There are much harder choices and cuts to be made than the Coalition has so far executed. And we as a nation are still not back in the realm of real money, and our economy will not really be sound until we are – take note Cameron, Osborne and Carney. And you two Eds, do shut up and stop blathering on about borrowing even more money.

Read more from Stephen Hill

Read more from Wealth Wednesday


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