There has been, it was reported, a reduction in tax intake and an increase in benefits paid.
I accept that companies may be cutting prices to encourage sales and as a result making smaller profits and paying less tax.
But an increase in benefits? How could that be?
Is it possible that there was a massive increase in the number of unemployed? Surely not. According to the figures from the DWP unemployment has been coming down apace, and employment has been increasing. No, it can't be that.
It could hardly be an increase in benefits for the sick because we all know from 'Panorama' and 'Despatches' programmes that 88% of sick people are being taken off Incapacity Benefits and put on to cheaper JSA-type benefits, and, even if large numbers of them are returned to Incapacity by English Ministry of Justice tribunals, the numbers, and the cost, must still be reducing as they weed out the chancers, and of course those who are too sick and too alone to fight. So it can't be that.
We heard that the government had been anticipating a reduction in the deficit of around half a billion, and instead found itself with an increase of 2.5 billion. That's an error of some £3 billion in one short month. Now we know that they aren't overly competent, but you'd think that that kind of mistake would be unlikely if the problem were due to something foreseeable, such as an increase in the number of pensioners.
Does anyone have any idea which particular benefits increase could have caused such an huge upset in Gideon's calculations?
On the subject of the deficit I noticed something interesting. At a time when the UK is struggling with such a massive deficit it is strange that the part of the government that could be called English as opposed to UK, ie the Department for Education, seems happy to give away nearly £10 billion of state assets.
According to this article, nearly 2,000 schools, and their playing fields, have been transferred to private organisations, for free, in some cases against the wishes of the local community. (What say you to that Mr Pickles? Localism being your watchword!)
Interestingly some of the beneficiaries of this Tory largesse have been:
Phil Harris, a Tory peer and the owner of Carpetright and the Harris Foundation;
ARK Academies, whose board includes Paul Marshall, a Lib-Dem bigwig and Stanley Fink, Tory party treasurer and donor of £2.62 million to the Conservatives.
Frankly I don't give a stuff about whether or not the Olympics has a legacy, other than having made its sponsors an indecent sum of money. But Cameron seems to care; he bangs on and on about it enough. So why has he allowed the sale of these playing fields, the result of which will be to reduce the sports facilities available to kids at such an early stage?
And why is it that benefit claimants get the blame for the worsening financial situation when the government appears to have given away billions in state owned property, completely coincidentally, I'm sure, to some of its biggest backers, and all indicators seem to point in the direction of reducing benefits costs?