Cameron asks public to help cut spending

THE government will this week outline plans for an unprecedented public consultation on spending cuts, in a bid to win broad support for the toughest fiscal tightening since World War Two.

In a speech today David Cameron will announce plans for “a process to engage and involve the whole country in the difficult decisions that will have to be taken”.

City A.M. understands that Number 10 and the Treasury have spent the weekend plotting a series of town hall meetings to discuss spending cuts, while a new website will be launched to let the public have their say. Both will be unveiled tomorrow.

The findings will be considered when chancellor George Osborne draws up his comprehensive spending review in the Autumn.

It is hoped that the consultation phase will provide political cover for unpopular decisions while steering the debate away from cuts to public sector reform.

Third sector and private sector organisations will be encouraged to contribute to the debate to convince the public they can deliver services that have traditionally been run by the state.

“Given the massive scale of the challenge facing the new government we need to throw open the doors of Whitehall and encourage new thinking. Anyone who thinks the spending review is just about saving money is missing the point,” said a Treasury source.

The chancellor is hopeful he can win the debate on the need to cut public spending, especially after the G20 backed his decision to make cuts in 2010 and urged other highly-indebted countries to follow suit.