YEP Says, March 20: Osborne needs to do more to halt drop in living standards

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Reforming pension rules is of no use if you’re too poor to save.

NO ONE can deny that George Osborne inherited an economy in dire straits. The note left by Labour’s No 2 at the Treasury, Liam Byrne, to his successor read simply “there’s no money left”.

It wasn’t far off the mark. Since 2010, the coalition has been working towards one goal – paying down the national debt and reducing borrowing.

Progress has been made – often on the back of painful cuts – but the job’s only half done, which is why the Chancellor was right to exercise caution in yesterday’s Budget and speak of the need to stay the course.

Yet too often the policies rolled out by the uneasy Tory and Liberal Democrat alliance appear muddled and destined to waste money.

The scrapping of child benefit for couples with one parent earning more than £60,000 has been followed by an offer of £2,000 per child towards childcare costs for working parents on five times as much.

Pensioners and savers emerge as the clear winners of this Budget – hardly surprising given that the Tories are keen to court older, well-off voters.

But reforming the pension rules is of little comfort if you’re too poor to save. There is still too little recognition that many people’s living standards are falling, despite the economy showing signs of recovery.

It’s the party with the most credible plan to tackle that contradiction which will be in the box seat to win next year’s election.

Event adds up to great way to promote maths

It’s well known that Britain struggles to encourage school pupils to embrace maths – so events such as the one at Elland Road yesterday are key in terms of helping to make the subject fun.

The attempt to hold the world’s biggest maths lesson, with Johnny Ball playing teacher, had a serious side too though. Local firms are having to turn away would-be apprentices because their maths just aren’t up to scratch.

Let’s hope the event – involving 7,000 youngsters – is confirmed as a world record. In the meantime, one question remains... Did they manage to make Leeds United’s finances add up while they were at it?

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