Y Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, has written to cabinet ministers to demand deeper cuts to departmental budgets.
The Treasury’s axe man sent the letter amid escalating tensions over the biggest public spending cuts in Britain’s peacetime history.
An aide to Alexander confirmed he had sent the letter, but insisted it was part of an “ongoing process” ahead of the comprehensive spending review due 20 October.
In recent weeks, some ministers have stepped up their fight against the Treasury in a bid to protect their department’s most sacred projects.
A handful of cabinet ministers, including welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith, have gone over chancellor George Osborne’s head and protested directly to the Prime Minister.
Vince Cable, the business secretary, is fighting tooth and nail to keep funding for those projects he thinks will boost economic growth. An aide said Cable thought the department had lots of “levers” to promote growth, but insisted there was no tension with the Treasury.