Looking forward to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement tomorrow? Go on, admit it, you can barely contain your excitement.
To be fair, the Autumn Statement is an ideal opportunity to give a state of the nation-style overview of the country’s economic and financial health as well as the chance to run a few proposals up the political flagpole and see how the wind handles them before next year’s Budget proper.
It is also a chance for vested interest groups, lobbyists and their ilk to pitch for policies and measures advantageous to their sectors, just like in the ‘real’ Budget.
The British Chambers of Commerce has called on George Osborne to adopt a “laser-like focus on growth” and said the battle to reduce the country’s budget deficit must be balanced by measures to help companies prosper.
Motoring organisations are looking for the fuel duty escalator – due to rise next month – to be frozen, as is the beer industry.
The British Plastics Federation appears (as at the time of writing) to be keeping its head below the parapet, but will doubtless be hoping for some recognition of the contribution of our favourite material.
Indications regarding investment in infrastructure projects might be on offer, but I reckon Osborne will deliver a predictably sobering assessment of the economy; “things will get better, but it will take time, hard work and sacrifice”. That sort of thing.
Meanwhile the government is expected to confirm investment in the construction of 30 gas-fired powers stations which, it is hoped, will reduce the UK’s dependence on energy supplies from overseas – and in some cases not hugely reliable – markets.
Tax breaks and a new organisation – yes, another one – to encourage the development of shale gas extraction are set to be revealed alongside the Chancellor’s take on the economy.
Shale gas isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Media coverage of mini-earthquakes in the vicinity of drilling trials didn’t help the cause of the shale gas sector, which will have a job on its hands convincing sceptics and neutrals alike of the procedure’s safety.
But we’re sitting on a lot of shale gas in the UK and given the urgent need for more cost-efficient fuel, it looks likely to make some headway, despite whatever environmental concerns arwe thrown its way.
Hold onto your crockery…