Britain's Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell accused the Chancellor of the Exchequer of "creative accountancy" on 16 March, after George Osborne said he would miss his own target of bringing down public debt this year, but can still turn the deficit into a surplus by 2020.
"Every time he has set himself a target he's missed it and at the moment, as we can see, he's going to be missing future targets as well, because what he's doing is an element of creative accountancy each year now, to ensure that he can at least demonstrate that there may be some sort of long term prospect of meeting his overall targets," said McDonnell reacting to the latest Budget. "I think his credibility now as an economic manager is actually shot through altogether," he added.
Osborne, whose chances of becoming prime minister are tied to the fortunes of the economy, also announced sharply lower growth forecasts, blaming it on the slowdown in the global economy and weak productivity growth at home. Britain's economy was on track to grow by only 2% this year, much slower than the 2.4% predicted in November, and by 2.2% in 2017, down from November's 2.5% estimate.
Osborne conceded he would miss a target he set for himself as the analysts said public debt would rise this year as a share of gross domestic product. Osborne said his latest plans still foresaw a budget surplus by the end of the decade equivalent to 0.5% of gross domestic product, despite the slower economic growth outlook.
To hit that target, he would seek a further £3.5bn ($5bn) of savings in public spending by the 2019/20 financial year, he said in his annual budget announcement. British business lobby, the Confederation of British Industry, welcomed Osborne's pledge to cut corporation tax and continue to pursue a budget surplus by the end of parliament.
"Businesses really welcome that he's aiming for a budget surplus and aiming to balance the books by 2020 and that ongoing commitment. And one of the things he is stressing is that we need to grow our way out," CBI Director General, Carolyn Fairbairn said.