The chancellor should yesterday have a delivered a proper Back to Work Budget.
One that focussed on jobs and a plan for growth, so we could start to get our economy motoring again.
But what we saw didn’t match the scale of the challenge facing the country.
For weeks, the government has been promising Britain a ‘New Deal’. But instead we got a Meal Deal.
Take the government’s new approach to furlough.
The bonus for firms bringing back staff should have been targeted at those who most need the support.
Instead, it is being handed over to any business.
This potentially puts billions of pounds of taxpayer cash at risk of being wasted.
Or take the government’s stamp duty cut. It could have been directed at families looking to get on the housing ladder or up-size.
But because what the chancellor announced was so broad, huge chunks of the money will go to landlords and second home owners in the south east and London.
At a time of crisis, should this really be the focus?
And we’re still waiting for details of how proposed VAT changes will work and exactly which firms will benefit.
Sadly, this is policy-making on the hoof.
And it is also policy making to mask failure.
The Chancellor himself admitted the other week that the key to getting customers back on the high street is giving people confidence it is safe to do so.
The reason families aren’t going out for meals is not because they are waiting for a tenner off. It’s because the government has botched its public health response.
Above all, this is policy-making that isn’t properly aimed at the businesses and people that need it.
Again and again, Labour have called for support to be properly targeted, because different parts of our economy face very different challenges in the months ahead.
Again and again, the government has stuck to a one-size fits all approach. one that risks wasting taxpayer money and not providing the most bang for our buck.
Labour is a constructive opposition. We don’t oppose for the sake of it.
So, we support plans – modelled on the success of the Welsh Labour Government’s Jobs Growth Wales scheme – to get young people into work.
We all want government to succeed in protecting jobs and getting the economy going.
The chancellor has announced some ideas we welcome.
But many were frustratingly half-baked and so lacking in detail that it’s difficult not to be cautious.
Today already feels like a missed opportunity.