Osborne ramps up pressure on cabinet to make more cuts

GEORGE Osborne yesterday told fellow cabinet ministers that “the clock is ticking” if they want to stop the Treasury deciding where budget cuts will fall on their Whitehall departments.

Ministers have been asked to identify where they can make 10 per cent spending cuts for the 2015-16 financial year.

Seven small departments have already agreed deals and several others are close to an arrangement but reluctant ministers in charge of large budgets – such as Vince Cable, Philip Hammond and Theresa May – face being hauled in front of a “star chamber” if they do not settle well in advance of the 26 June spending review announcement.

The news comes as the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) today backs calls to stop the practice of ringfencing budgets such as international aid and healthcare “for political reasons”.

Unveiling its members’ demands for the spending review, the business group said it wanted to see funding moved to infrastructure projects, such as roadbuilding.

It also wants to see a British Business Bank lending direct to firms and more financial support for export programmes.