The economy

I've just received a briefing note from West Sussex County Council to say that the county has received the lowest possible grant rise for next year - less than half the average rise for a county council.

This has been the pattern for the last eight years.  Clearly our county is being treated unfairly by comparison with others.

But I'm afraid that if this Government hasn't been generous to West Sussex over the past few years, when they were spending money like it was going out of fashion, the prospect of a better deal now is receding fast.

This week the Chancellor admitted that Britain's budget deficit next year will be the highest on record; higher than when Denis Healey crawled to the International Monetary Fund in 1976 to ask for help.

The national debt is set to double to £1 trillion (that's an incredible one thousand billion, or a million million).

Gordon Brown's claim that this is all the fault of a crisis which started in the USA is rubbish.  He presided over rising indebtedness in our country; he changed the regulatory framework governing our banks, and by spending excessively he ran up a vast government overdraft even at the end of fifteen years of economic growth.

If Britain is relatively well placed to weather this storm, as the Prime Minister claims, why has the pound sunk against other major currencies?

The truth is that while countries such as Australia, having managed their finances prudently, are using their budget surpluses to cut taxes, our Chancellor can only give away £20 billion of tax cuts today by taking away £40 billion in tax rises tomorrow.

Taxpayers will pay the price of this epic economic mismanagement for years to come.  Future public spending rises will have to be at an affordable rate.  And value for money will be tomorrow's watchword.

Michelle Taylor