Britain facing further £25bn in cuts, warns government
Chancellor George Osborne has used a speech he gave today in Birmingham on the state of Britain’s economy to heap more misery on welfare recipients by claiming that government spending would need to be slashed a further £25 billion in the first two years of the next parliament.
Osborne said 2014 was a year for “hard truths,” adding: “Government is going to have to be permanently smaller – and so too is the welfare system.”
He singled out the welfare bill for the greatest cuts, despite it already being one of the areas most aggressively hit by his existing austerity measures, saying: “Welfare cannot be protected from further substantial cuts…. I can tell you today that on the Treasury’s current forecasts, £12 billion of further welfare cuts are needed in the first two years of the next parliament.”
The Chancellor hinted that he would like to lower taxes by “permanently cutting the spending those taxes pay for”. He also made it clear that universal benefits for pensioners, even the very rich, would not be subject to cuts, telling Radio 4’s Today Programme that “if you are going to be looking for savings in welfare, pensioner benefits is not the place that I would first turn to”.
Instead, Osborne indicated that the young would bear the brunt of his policies, adding: “I would look at housing benefit for the under-25s (for savings).”
But Osborne’s coalition partner, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, hit out at his comments, telling Channel 4: “The Conservative party is now out on an ideological limb, almost unique in developed economies, in saying we are not going to ask people of very great wealth, very high incomes making any additional contributions to the tax system at all but only ask people with narrower shoulders to make further sacrifices to finish the job.”