[Re: Seven departments agree to new spending cuts, says Osborne, yesterday]
You’ve got to admire George Osborne’s minor bravery. The average UK voter feels ever more squeezed, fuel bills are still rising, large chunks of our energy infrastructure are apparently on the brink of grinding to a halt, and yet we continue to send aid to countries that are enjoying economic boom times.
How on earth does Osborne expect to balance the budget without touching health, schools or welfare? Not only do these make up a huge proportion of public spending, but they’re areas where costs are only likely to increase. The National Audit Office says that Britain will need an extra 250,000 school places by autumn 2014 to meet rising demand, and health spending rose by 106 per cent in real terms between 1997 and 2010 (yet productivity barely grew). Further, the coalition is looking to extend the reach of the welfare state into elderly care. This is astonishing when you consider that 44 per cent of households already get benefits other than child benefit, pensioner benefits or social housing. There’s no hope of eliminating the deficit without more bravery from Osborne.
The Spending Review is just a trap to bind Labour’s hands after Ed Miliband wins the next election. I hope it works for all our sake.
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Gordon Brown has given £600,000 from speechmaking to charity. Not often I say this: what an extraordinarily good thing to do.
Interesting take by friend: coalition cutting deeper into liberal functions of state (defence law & order) to protect welfare state.
One month to go until Spending Review. It’s still unclear whether Labour will match our plans or borrow more. Time to come clean.
Right EU decision. Arms embargo on Syrian opposition ended. No immediate decision to send arms. Other sanctions remain.