The Government stands accused of not doing nearly enough about poverty in last week's Budget because of its aversion to debt, even though public debt is relatively low and it has never been cheaper for it to borrow.

For poverty in that indictment you could substitute teachers' pay, or social housing, or other infrastructure deficits — insert the issue of choice.

But there is a case for the defence. In brief, it goes like this: these social deficits have built up over years, they will not be quickly solved and the present Government is doing a lot more about