PRIME MINISTER Gordon Brown finally admitted yesterday that spending cuts would be necessary if the UK is to rein in its £175bn projected government deficit and put the country back on the path towards fiscal sustainability. <br /><br />In a speech to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Brown said: “Labour will cut costs, cut inefficiencies, cut unnecessary programmes and cut lower priority budgets.” But he stressed that frontline services will not be hit by spending reductions.<br /><br />Opposition parties also gave details of their proposals for tackling the fiscal crisis. Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable argued for a freeze of public sector pay and a radical review of public sector pensions. <br /><br />“Painful and difficult” cuts are needed over the next five years, he said, because government borrowing is so high.<br /><br />There should be no ring-fenced areas of spending, he said, and big budgets in health, welfare, defence and education must be tackled.<br /><br />Cable said opposition parties had been too slow to make detailed plans.<br /><br />“The time for generalities is over,” said Cable, a former chief economist of oil giant Shell.<br /><br />While spending cuts have been the focus of the argument, Stephen Herring, senior tax partner at accountants BDO Stoy Hayward, has criticised the major parties’ lack of debate about where increased tax revenues will come from. <br /><br />In terms of spending cuts, he said that there was going to need to be a dramatic reduction in spending if the deficit is to be eliminated. <br /><br />“Anything which will protect employment and economic growth should be exempt from cuts,” he said.<br /><br />He added that broad-based cuts which affect everybody by a small amount and that do not attack either individuals or specific areas of the community would be best .