Sometimes I feel like a second rate Nostradamus, when something I was whinging about weeks or months previously, actually comes to pass. Having accused George Osborne of being a closet Yank, because of his willingness to see a planning free for all used to drive his growth agenda, we now see that he is proposing to relax the Sunday Trading Laws for a trial period. Don’t be surprised to see the trial continue without a break, as all George’s mates in the retailing industry, continue to shamelessly lobby him, for it to become the norm.
As well as regretting this further erosion of what supposedly makes Sunday different from every other day of the week, I would question what the rationale for this change is. Apart from transferring more money from the pockets of hard pressed working people into the bulging bank balances of shareholders, how will this change help the recovery, or offer real growth?
We, the British public are constantly being berated by our politicians for having too much personal debt and told to reduce our reliance on credit to feed our naked consumerism. Yet George Osborne is about to propose something that can only make that debt grow further, as a bored public, credit cards in hand, now spend their Sundays wandering the aisles of department stores stores full of tempting imported consumer goods.
Also, how is increasing retail spending supposed to improve the national debt situation overall? With most of the goods purchased coming from foreign imports and not from home grown manufacturers, how does that help the dire financial situation we currently find ourselves in? No doubt the increase in VAT taken, combined with the increase in tax businesses will have to pay on their takings, will make the Government’s balance sheet look slightly better. However, given that there is every chance that this will be at least equalled by an increase in personal debt, isn’t this just fool’s gold?