As the Chancellor puts the finishing touches on what may be his last Budget, those outside the Treasury wait in anticipation of what new policies will be announced next week.
But what would you do in his place? Now you can be the Chancellor and set your own Budget thanks to a new online tool launched on the IFS election webpage today. The interactive webpage, complete with data visualisation and infographics, guides you through the challenging tradeoffs involved in decisions over how much to spend, how much to tax and how much to borrow. With data simulations showing you the effect on the finances of all the choices you make, now you can explore the choices facing Mr Osborne, and whoever may be the Chancellor after the election.
At the time of the Autumn Statement last December the Chancellor was planning to reduce annual borrowing over the next five years, and reach a surplus of 1.0% of national income by 2019–20. Given currently confirmed tax and benefit policies, and the official forecasts for the economy and the public finances, this would require cuts of 14.1% to real terms departmental spending between 2015–16 and 2019–20.
Next week the Chancellor may try to sweeten the electorate, giving some of that surplus away by announcing lower taxes or higher public spending. Or he may choose to stick to his borrowing plans, but reduce the squeeze on departments through further cuts to benefit spending. Or he may do something different.
While we will have to wait and see what George Osborne announces, why not explore what decisions you’d make if you were Chancellor.
Please note that this is a simple educational tool. The numbers you generate do not represent IFS analysis, and figures can differ slightly from published IFS analysis where we are able to use more sophisticated assumptions about the profile of any fiscal decisions made between 2015–16 and 2019–20.