UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has just delivered his annual Budget Speech and the press, as ever, are scrambling to make sense of it all. The post-match analysis from almanis’s perspective will be simpler. The planning for the 2017 Budget a little more complex.
Back in December, almanis asked the crowd to forecast the likelihood that George Osborne would today have to announce that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has downgraded its forecast for 2016 GDP growth. The crowd were pretty convinced from the off that he probably would, eventually settling at around an 80% likelihood (see chart below). Today Osborne obliged. The OBR’s forecasts was revised down quite sharply from 2.4% to 2.0%.
So another small win for the crowd. But now onto plans for 2017…
Next time the Chancellor steps up to deliver an update on his budget plans, he will have come under a great deal more scrutiny from us. We’re going to mirror all the key forecasts contained in this Budget with our own prediction markets. We don’t want to stop there either. It’s fun to see if we’re better forecasters as a crowd than the economic boffins in the OBR and HM Treasury, but not necessarily all that useful. We want to go one better now and start forecasting the real outcomes of this government’s policies which were outlined today.
George Osborne made a big deal of his support for small businesses in this Budget Speech. And that’s fine. What we need to do though is to start forecasting how many new businesses will start up as a result. How many fewer might go bust? How many more people might this sector employ? If we can link real outcomes with specific policies and draw the analysis out of the grand offices of state and into the public realm, we might actually help create better policy. Now there’s a challenge!
Yesterday, somebody leaked Osborne’s plans to increase funding to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in UK cities. Londoners travelling home from work last night all saw the London Evening Standard splash the government’s largesse over its front page. Great publicity for Osborne and the Conservative Party but we’ll want to ask the crowd just how much of an impact this is going to have on actual people in desperate situations.
The same goes for the government’s increased support for Community Land Trusts struggling to provide housing for locals in rural and coastal communities.
And the take-up of the new Lifetime ISAs for cash-strapped younger people.
You get the picture.
We want your suggestions for questions to put to the crowd. Which of Osborne’s promises looked a bit dodgy to you? How can we best measure the impact of this government’s policy goals? How might we measure the progress of Osborne’s big “Norther Powerhouse” project? Let us know in the comments below or suggest a question via the site and we can get cracking.