Mark Andrews: There's no such thing as a free lunch, whatever Rishi says

Well it wasn't quite Rishi's Dishes, but it wasn't far off, was it?

Aint't no party like a Downing Street party
Aint't no party like a Downing Street party

A £400 cheque to every household, even more for pensioners and benefit claimants. I hadn't seen that kind of generosity since I got a letter from Reader's Digest in 1984. The only disappointment was that the Chancellor didn't announce his cost-of-living support package wearing a gold lame suit and straw boater.

Well I hate to be a killjoy in the run-up to Jubilee week, but I'm not entirely sure Rishi's cash bonanza is in our long-term interests.

Any teenager sitting their economics O-level this week will tell you inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. And anyone taking the exam who didn't know that, well, just thank me later.

This begs the question of how throwing £21 billion at the problem is really going to help. It is like the fire brigade turning up to a shout in a petrol tanker.

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Of course, the idea of clobbering wealthy energy companies with a windfall tax was always going to sound seductive. But how do folk think energy bosses are going to respond to that? Will they take it on the chin and say "Fair cop Rishi, I fancied a pay cut anyway"? Or will they pass the extra cost on to the consumer through even higher bills? Again, as any O-level economics student will tell you, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Not even one of Rishi's Dishes.

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Furthermore, anyone studying degree-level economics will also know that the only route to a real, sustainable increase in living standards is increased productivity. In other words, we have to produce more for less money, grafting harder while competing with India and China on wages. It means less work from home and less fretting about work-life balance.

And you can bet no politician is ever going to tell you that. Especially the day after it emerged that "working very hard" in Downing Street meant drunken brawls and vomiting between karaoke sessions.

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Having said all that, remind me never to go to a birthday party for Boris Johnson. If a jug of apple juice, a plate of petrol-station sandwiches and a tiny cake in a plastic box constitutes a knees-up, one can't imagine what he does during a quiet night in.

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I really can't get too worked up about news that Wolverhampton University is scrapping performing arts courses because they are unprofitable.

Listen kids, if you want to perform, join an am-dram group. And save yourself fifty grand.

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