With hardly a moment to take a breath after the election we are on to the next big thing: the medium-term budget policy statement will be tabled on Thursday. And while the fiscal picture has improved a lot since February, the decisions to be made about spending choices are no easier.

The political pressure on the Treasury is immense. Yet the harder the decisions the less likely they are to be made now. Partly this is because there has not been enough time for the Treasury to process them given the pace at which things have been moving, but also because the biggest one of all — whether to provide permanent income support to the destitute — is laden with risk and is difficult...

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