George Osborne's message is 'growth is up, up, up'

George Osborne with David Cameron in the Commons. Photo: Press Association

It is hard to think of a Budget or Autumn Statement that has been so comprehensively pre-briefed. There were few surprises and perhaps that was deliberate because there is little doubt George Osborne wanted the headline to be; 'growth is up, up, up'.

And, according to the statistics, it is. In the Budget, he predicted growth of 0.6% this year, but he now says it will hit 1.4% - a pretty stellar difference. Our economy is growing faster than those of any industrialised nation, he said, including Germany and the United States of America.

One might say that this is partly because our economic performance has lagged behind both these countries over the past few years and, now that confidence is finally returning, we are playing catch up.

It is certainly worth noting that growth is predicted to level off and the figures for the later years in the forecast period are actually lower than they were at the time of the Budget. But that kind of nuance is likely to be lost in the mist. There is no doubt we are finally on the up and the Chancellor is unequivocally claiming victory. Ed Balls will not recall this morning with affection.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls responds to the Autumn Statement. Credit: Press Association

But in headline terms, the pickings were slim. There was good news for business, particularly small shops, which should benefit from a 2% cap on rate rises and a £1,000 discount. Employers will not have to pay National Insurance on people they take on who are under the age of twenty-one.

There were a few populist measures. Fuel duty was frozen again and Russian billionaires and other foreign investors will now have to pay capital gains tax when they sell homes in this country (about time, one might say).

But I suspect we will have to wait until the next budget for more headline measures. The Chancellor wanted us to focus on one issue above all others; after years of bad news, the gloom is finally starting to recede.

More on this story