Plan C

The government has represented its spending plans as the only option available. The Labour opposition has called for an alternative approach, “Plan B”, involving Keynesian stimulation of the economy through tax reductions and quantitative easing. It looks as though the government is sticking to “Plan A”: but is it? The recent spending review points to the gradual emergence of an alternative strategy. In November, the government announced funding for 250,000 work experience placements and 160,000 job subsidies, all aimed at young people aged 18-24. Less prominent, but possibly more significant in the long term, were the low-key declaration of a National Graphene Institute, and recent announcements about support for life sciences. These initiatives suggest that the government may be starting to move in the direction of a policy to foster development in selected industrial sectors. That, ironically, was the policy of the Labour government in the 1970s, which sought to pick winners through the National Enterprise Board – for example, its investment in Inmos and microchips.

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