His Budget may not have delivered all the answers the North in general and Yorkshire in particular were looking for, but it was still good to see George Osborne in Leeds yesterday.
After all, it is only by spending time in this region that the Chancellor can begin to fully understand its needs and as yet untapped potential for playing a key role in rebalancing the economy through his Northern Powerhouse concept.
Nor should any disappointments in Wednesday’s speech blind us to the fact that it was not without its worthy and ambitious elements. He pitched it as a Budget for the “next generation” and his surprise announcement of a sugar tax on some fizzy drinks is a welcome bid to curb the growing obesity epidemic among children.
Praised as “visionary” by the British Heart Foundation, it will not be a panacea but is at least an opening shot in the fight to produce healthier future generations.
The wide range of soft drink products that fall within the scope of the tax – to be imposed if manaufacturers fail to make them healthier within two years – shows just how much hidden sugar we as a nation are consuming.
Indeed, there is an argument for the Chancellor going further and imposing a similar levy on sweets and chocolate. Education does not seem to be having the desired effect on eating habits so perhaps higher prices will.
However, Mr Osborne’s biggest responsibility – and his most difficult task – is to ensure future financial security. It is every parent’s hope that their children will enjoy a better life than they themselves have had and it is up to the Chancellor to provide the stability and growth required for the jobs and opportunities of tomorrow.
If his financial policies succeed in balancing the books and clearing the deficit then it will indeed prove a Budget for the next generation – and beyond.