There’s a section at the back of the Building Britain’s Future document where Labour spells out key “deliverables” for the next decade.
Some of these are indeed likely. Others less so. Alex and I have picked out some of the more controversial ones.
2013: Budget deficit halved since 2009/10.
8/10: Yes, this is the plan – the annual deficit should be back down in four years’ time. Although the national debt will keep on rising. The distinction between the two has been the subject of a ferocious row between Ed Balls and Fraser Nelson.
2014: £16bn of asset sales achieved
2/10: I revealed on Monday that this target is based entirely on a buoyant property market. Of the total, £11bn has to come from local authorities. But the LGA says council property sales have slumped from £4bn a year to £1bn a year. (Incidentally, if councils keep the receipts, how exactly does this plug the public finances – as No. 10 seem to suggest?)
2016: 240,000 new homes provided each year, improving affordability.
4/10 Given that only about 100,000 homes will be built this year, the forecast implies a dramatic recovery in the housing market. And the mortgage market. Clearly it is possible but this is crystal ball gazing. For now affordability will only be improved by house prices falling further. You’ll notice that the BBF document doesn’t refer to the ludicrous 3m homes by 2020 target.
2017: First Crossrail trains are expected to start running.
6/10 This afternoon I spoke to Stephen Glaister, the transport expert. He has serious concerns over whether the government will be able to afford the £5bn needed to make Crossrail work. He pointed to the line in the Budget saying government investment will drop in the next five years from 3.1 per cent of GDP to 1.3 per cent. “That is a terrifying figure,” he observers.
2017: 400,000 new green jobs
2/10 When it comes to green jobs Gordon Brown likes to pluck figures from thin air. I pointed out in January that he has so far predicted 100,000 new green jobs, 140,000 and 1million. I suppose 400,000 is neither less likely nor more likely than these other random numbers.
2020: Child poverty eradicated in the UK
3/10 Unlikely. The government was supposed to halve the figure by 2010 and has signally failed to do so. That doesn’t bode well for the bigger target.
2020: 90 per cent of children leave primary school having mastered the basics in English and Maths
?/10 I sincerely hope this one will happen. But it shows a desperate poverty of aspiration. A tenth of children aged 11 still illiterate and unable to add up – celebration time!
2020: 15 per cent of all our energy coming from renewable sources
4/10 Not exactly on track. Britain is still behind almost every other EU country in producing renewable energy. Here is a reminder of Shriti Vadera’s attempts to water down the target by asking if the UK could include, um, overseas projects funded with British cash.
2010: Up to 10 new ecotowns developed
1/10 Even the DCLG’s own internal report admits that only some of the remaining ecotown proposals will survive without public subsidy. For now, at least, the project appears doomed.