The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that it will be “anything but easy” for the Conservatives to stick to their campaign promises.
IFS deputy director Carl Emmerson said yesterday that with underlying pressures set to drive up spending, deeper-than-expected cuts amounting to more than 15 per cent for unprotected Whitehall departments will be needed to balance the budget.
Prime Minister David Cameron said before the General Election that his government would not cut spending for the NHS, schools or foreign aid. But Emmerson said yesterday that unprotected departments, including the department for business, innovation and skills, the department for transport and the department for communities and local government, would face £30bn, or 5.4 per cent, on average, in cuts under Cameron’s plans.
He added that such departments could expect a total cumulative cut of nearly 33 per cent over the eight years from the start of the first Cameron government in 2010.
And those cuts could prove even more drastic, Emmerson said, if the government continued to meet Nato’s defence spending target of two per cent of GDP. Leaving defence spending unchanged would increase the cuts for other departments over the next three years to 18.7 per cent, and the cuts over the eight years from 2010–11 to nearly 37 per cent, Emmerson said.
The IFS warnings came on the same day as chancellor George Osborne announced £3bn of new in-year cuts for unprotected Whitehall departments. Osborne said the cuts would come from tightened budgets, efficiency savings and the sell-off of various government properties across departments.