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Darling: deficit cut is priority

PEOPLE should be in no doubt about the government’s commitment to reduce borrowing, chancellor Alistair Darling said in an interview published yesterday.

He said: “The priority though must be to get our borrowing down, because to be borrowing £178bn is something you need to get down, you need to reduce it and you need to be pretty single-minded about it.”

Concerns about Britain’s deficit have spooked markets and incurred the wrath of ratings agencies.
Darling said that he had always been committed to reducing the deficit. “I made the point on numerous occasions…that getting spending down, halving our borrowing in the four-year period was non-negotiable: it was absolutely essential.”

Darling told the FT that plans to reduce the deficit would include cuts to some programmes, while others would be postponed.

He added that discussions would be had with ministers to identify where money is not being spent as effectively and efficiently as it should be.

However, he insisted that the situation was still too uncertain to conduct a full-scale spending review. He also warned against rushing into spending cuts, echoing IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s comments. “I think to take significant sums of money out of the economy at this stage is a risk to recovery. It would threaten to derail us and it would be the wrong thing to do.”