An autumn statement of the obvious….

I don’t know if George Osborne is on the right track. I am sure that there are things that he could and should be doing that he is not. However I don’t have access to all the information that he has, or have to deal with his pressures and responsibilities, so maybe I am not best placed to criticise.

Taking decisions based on available information and resources. The stark reality of management. The true test of mettle. The real definition of loneliness. A situation that the 4.8 million business owners and managers making up Enterprise Britain find themselves in time after time.

Not so our friends in the fourth estate. As I was following the statement online I was struck by the constant carping, criticising and point scoring that accompanied each announcement. No contemplation, no reflection, just instant negativity.

If ever the phrase “power without authority” had any meaning this would be a prime example of how it works. The media chatterers and twitterers have the power to mock, to criticise, to nit-pick. What we never hear is what would they do if they were in a position to change things. I suspect that put in that position most would run away from such a prospect.

Yes they say but we have a duty to report the news and to question and hold those in power to account. True, but in business it is drilled into us that criticism should be considered and constructive. And the line between reporting news and creating it is growing ever thinner.

Sympathy for George is somewhat tempered by the fact that he himself is guilty of the sin of soundbite criticism. However for those of us at the coal face attempting to create the wealth necessary to get the economy moving, the constant self-aggrandising negativity of financial and business commentators is annoying. We are under no illusions as regards how tough it is out there. We don’t need it shoved down our throat day after day.

Having said that what was there for businesses in yesterday’s Autumn statement? Probably not a lot, but let’s face it, whoever stood up in parliament this week was going to struggle. Easier finance for SMEs and incentives to start up entrepreneurs are helpful. The challenge for all involved will be to direct it where it is needed most and where it can be productive. The announcements on fuel duty, infrastructure projects and red tape seem to be moves in the right direction.

The stark truth though is that the one thing business needs at present is confidence. The confidence to invest in the future. The confidence to lend. The confidence to spend. And that is clearly something that the Chancellor cannot deliver on his own….

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