Not the budget we need - mini or otherwise

budget blog

Last Friday saw Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s new chancellor, announce his first budget - or his mini-budget to be precise.

A Chancellor’s first budget is their opportunity to set a new course for the country, to share their vision for the UK’s future, and persuade people their new path is in the best interests not only of each of them individually but also the country as a whole.

Friday’s mini budget did chart a new course. Unfortunately that course takes the UK deeper into the wastelands of zombie economics. So deep in fact, that the budget is being shunned even by those it most sought to court.

This is a budget that fails not only on the measures important to the financial world - a world of gilt yields, currency speculators, bank rates and stock exchanges - but also in the real world of citizens, communities, and the natural world on which we all rely. Its ideology is built on the idea that there are no limits to growth, whereas we know that many of the earth’s resources are finite.

In the UK, our economy is failing us. Demand for foodbanks is surging, the wages we pay our most important workers do not allow them to make ends meet, and privately-owed water companies pay billions of pounds to their bondholders and shareholders while dumping billions of litres of sewage into our rivers and onto our beaches. Europe’s energy system is hooked up not only on Putin’s Russia but a global oil and gas industry which has spent decades resisting our move to renewable energy. Across the world the climate crisis brings ever more extreme weather, and produces millions of refugees.

But alongside this across the world the shoots of a new future are emerging. Free train travel in Spain is taking tens of thousands of vehicles off the road. New sources of renewable energy are being built at a record pace.  The founder of Patagonia, the $3bn clothing giant, has given away the company and all its future profits to benefit the planet and fight the climate emergency. From these small shoots it is possible to create exponential change

We need to bring these shoots to the UK. To transform our economy so that it works for everyone, within the limits of our planet. We need an economy that knows that there is no financial capital without natural capital  An economy where our financial and natural wealth is in the hands of the many, not the few. An economy that resolutely seeks to decarbonise our energy, transport and food systems. An economy that supports, enables and values organisations that are built around purpose, not those that are built around profit. An economy run in the interests of future generations - both those already born, and those yet to come.

To do that we need our government to build an economy of purpose, recognise there are limits to growth, and show that it values care, family and community ahead of consumption and profit. Now that would be a budget we could all get around.

If you want to play your part in transforming our economy so that it works for everyone within the limits of our planet, sign up to hear more from On Purpose and apply to join our Associate Programme in London, Paris or Berlin.