AS HE prepares to deliver his Budget, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak faces a daunting challenge. In the wake of the Covid pandemic, he has to sustain the recovery and boost public services against a backdrop of a colossal fiscal deficit, the threat of inflation, supply shortages, soaring energy bills and the costs of the green agenda. Moreover, the national debt is at its highest level since the 1960s and the tax burden at its heaviest since the 1940s.
The need to strike a balance between the restoration of the public finances and the regeneration of Britain’s civic fabric makes his task extraordinarily difficult. Indeed, Sunak’s mission is perhaps the most awkward for any chancellor since Denis Healey was at the Treasury in the 1970s, when the Labour Government was battered by industrial chaos, profligate spending, public sector discontent and rampant inflation.
The two men could hardly be more different. The son of a mechanic, Healey served with distinction in the Second World War and was massively experienced in politics when he took over as chancellor, becoming renowned for his contradictory mix of joviality and toughness. Sunak is the opposite of the veteran bruiser.
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