THE CHEERS were ironic from MPs when Chancellor Sajid Javid – delivering his 2020-21 spending round – announced to a half-empty Commons: “As I turn to the details...”
Not only had Boris Johnson pre-announced £9.3bn of commitments since becoming PM six weeks ago, but this official confirmation was preceded by a lengthy partisan preamble about Brexit.
And as the Chancellor outlined his contingencies, it is even more surprising that the Government seems intent on allowing an election to get in the way of the urgent – and outstanding – work.
Yet, despite this, Mr Javid’s acknowledgement of the social care crisis – he says he is making an extra £1.5bn available to councils – will help town halls and care providers to come to terms with more difficult decisions that they face in the coming months.
A one-off sum which, nevertheless, will not help councils when it comes to longer-term planning, this speech had all the hallmarks of pre-election gesture politics.
There is still no details of the fundamental care reforms promised by Mr Johnson who spent part of the speech taunting Labour MPs.
And it is the same with the Chancellor’s commitment to further education – colleges, too, have been neglected by successive governments for too long and they will play a pivotal role training the workforce of the future.
However, while Mr Javid recognises this, this short-term spending review only had one objective as Britain teeters on the brink of a recession – to buy sufficient time, at whatever cost, to get the Government through the current turmoil. And, ultimately, it is how this speech will be judged.