To govern is to choose

The choices facing the Chancellor this autumn

The Chancellor has not had a quiet introduction to national policy making: overseeing 17 major fiscal announcements in as many months. This summer provided the first lull, driven by the success of vaccines and the understandable focus on Afghanistan. But the quiet phase is coming to an end.

Alongside dealing with whatever new paths the pandemic itself takes, the months ahead will also see Rishi Sunak have to answer a range of questions that the existence of the pandemic has meant have been put-off, and face up to new challenges – not least on the net zero transition. This paper considers five of those major challenges facing the Chancellor this Autumn. Although the his fiscal room for manoeuvre in October’s likely Spending Review looks set to be boosted by the lower-than-expected government borrowing so far this year, none of these issues is simple, and they will do much to decide the size and shape of our post-pandemic state.