Government takes a gamble

GAMBLING is back in fashion in Downing Street after the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled his mini-budget aimed at easing the worst effects of the economic recession.

GAMBLING is back in fashion in Downing Street after the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled his mini-budget aimed at easing the worst effects of the economic recession.

Whether the medicine will work, whether there will be any effect on the high streets or in the small businesses of Suffolk remains to be seen.

New government investment in the area - with cash being made available for schemes like the upgrading of the A14 through Suffolk and Cambridgeshire and money being freed up to build major projects like the SWISS Centre - will be welcome.

But there are very mixed messages coming out about consumer spending.

On the one hand we are told that we are in the current mess because we've all built up too much credit but on the other the government is hoping that a 2.5 per cent drop in VAT will encourage us back into the shops to spend our way out of recession.

And hanging over all the changes is the knowledge that eventually we will have to pay for the government's injection into the economy.

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While most of the tax increases will be targeted at the better off, £40,000 a year is not a massive salary these days - and according to some calculations people earning more than £19,000 a year may be worse off.

Over the last few weeks the British public - in contrast to those working in the money markets and banking sectors - have shown a reluctance to panic and allow their lives to be blighted by all the talk of the recession.

The government must today be hoping that this stoicism in the face of adversity continues - and that its tough treatment eventually turns the economy round.

But there must be a fear that the boom that emerged from the last recession in the early 1990s lasted so long that the worldwide economic cycle has now become elongated - and that the current downturn could be longer and deeper than most current economists have experienced in the past.

TODAY'S revelation that there is a family link between the PCT in Suffolk and the organisation which successfully tendered to run sexual health services in the county will come as a surprise to many people.

While the individuals involved are clearly experts in their fields - and there is no suggestion of any impropriety in the way the contract was awarded - there always has to be total transparency when public services, and public funds, are dealt with.

The concern that has arisen in this case is that there has been a blurring of the boundaries - on the one hand the PCT has said Dr Amanda Jones had no part in the decision but on the other questions about the service were being referred to . . . Dr Jones.

What is needed now is absolute clarity from everyone involved in the decision so the people of Suffolk can be totally satisfied about the way the contract to run the service was awarded.

FEW things can be more dispiriting that watching the house you have been lovingly restoring being attacked by fire.

So the hearts of people across the county will go out to the Stowmarket family who could only watch as fire spread through the roof of their cottage yesterday.

Everyone will hope that they are able to sort things out quickly and get repair and restoration work under way again as soon as possible.

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