London Evening Standard/London
Police and local government services will bear the brunt of deeper spending cuts to be announced by George Osborne in tomorrow’s Budget, an expert warned yesterday.
Although the chancellor has described his extra cutbacks as a mere 50p in every £100 of government spending, they will hit some key areas up to six times as hard, said Paul Johnson, head of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank.
He said the reason was David Cameron’s decision to protect spending on the NHS, schools and international aid from the Treasury knife, leaving “unprotected” departments to shoulder much bigger cuts.
However the cuts, estimated to be £4bn in total, may never happen. Sources have told the Standard that they will be pencilled in to happen in around 2020, giving Osborne the option of cancelling them if the economy improves, while reassuring the City that he is prepared to take tough action if the global economy goes downhill.
“We are talking about the very back end of the parliament,” said the official. “In terms of what gets cut where, that would be for a Treasury chief secretary to decide some years from now.”
Johnson said Osborne would effectively be saying tomorrow, “This is how I will balance the books if I have to.”
“Things don’t have to change very much at all to reverse this again,” Johnson told BBC radio. However, if they went ahead, the impact would be severe on a few departments that have already shouldered severe cuts since 2010.
He said: “When you are protecting health and pensions and overseas aid and schools and so on, that 50p out of every £100 looks more like £2 or £3 in every £100, at least, of the bits that you are not protecting.”
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