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Darling: My Budget is even tougher than Thatcher’s

Spending cuts under a Labour government will be tougher for Britain than those imposed by Thatcher, according to Alistair Darling.

He said he was prepared to make “deep” cuts in order to slash the UK’s yawning budget deficit.

Figures released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggest the budget is far more austere than those imposed by Thatcher. Spending in the 1980s increased by around 1.1 per cent a year in real terms. This is almost three times the 0.4 per cent annual increase that Alistair Darling has budgeted for the next four years.

The think-tank added that if spending on welfare and debt interest is subtracted, the rest of public spending would be cut in real terms by an average of 1.4 per cent a year compared to an average increase of 0.7 per cent in the 1980s.

The Tories say they would cut spending even more swingeingly. In turn, the Liberal Democrats say both Labour and the Tories are in denial about how much needs to be cut.

Darling has attracted criticism for remaining vague over where the axe will fall in terms of government spending.

However, he hit back yesterday accusing the Tories of failing to tell voters where they would make savings.

The UK’s Budget deficit stands at £167bn – slightly lower than the £178bn forecast in Darling’s pre-Budget report. This is partly down to better than expected tax receipts in the last quarter.