It’s Budget day in the UK. Gordon Brown has produced a boring budget with one absolutely brilliant strategic move: he promised to reduce the number of civil servants by 40 000 and move 20 000 of the remainder out of London to the provinces.
As an employee of the Medical Research Council there’s every chance I might be one of those 40 000, but that doesn’t stop me recognizing it as an inspired plan. The Tories simply can’t find a way around it. “Cutting government waste” is their (indeed, every party’s) favourite scheme for paying for tax cuts and increased spending on health and education. They’re going to have to find a different approach if they want to differentiate themselves from Labour at the election next year.
Today is also an appropriate day to share two British statistics with you:
Britain is now the only country in Europe with more credit cards than people.
We account for 75 percent of all credit card spending in Europe.
It’s only a problem if your debt is actually rising. The debit card section is the most telling. Personally, I hardly ever carry much cash around on me anymore, I use my debit card and credit cards regularly. Cash I do get (rent) goes in the bank, payments go to the cards, I just watch my bottom line on my accounting software. It’s not that I’m worried about getting mugged, it’s never happened. But if I lose my wallet, a plastic card can be cancelled with a quick call to the “Lost or Stolen” department of the bank. You can’t cancel cash; it’s a total loss unless your luck runs toward a mighty honest person finding your wallet.