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October 20, 2010    

Government unveils harsh spending cuts

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by Kay Murchie

Chancellor George Osborne has today unveiled his Comprehensive Spending Review - in what has been described as the most savage spending cuts since the Second World War.

Mr Osborne confirmed he would proceed with almost all of the cuts he detailed in his emergency budget in June.

Firstly, defending the cuts, Mr Osborne told parliament: “Tackling this budget deficit is unavoidable. The decisions about how we do it are not. There are choices. And today we make them. Investment in the future rather than the bills of past failure. That is our choice.”

Thirty-nine-year-old Osborne pledged that the cuts would bring the British economy “back from the brink”.

The cuts have received mixed responses; many have been critical of them warning that slashing the deficit too quickly could pose a threat to economic recovery and push the UK back into a recession.

However, all experts agree that growth will be hampered as a result of the cuts and the Bank of England will carefully have to monitor monetary policy, in order to avoid a double dip recession.

Outlining the cuts, the state pension age for men and women will increase to 66 by 2020 - according to Mr Osborne, this will ultimately save the Government £5 billion a year by the end of the next parliament.

Furthermore, and as expected, around half a million public sector jobs will go by 2014.

Meanwhile, a new bank levy is to be introduced - but further details will be given tomorrow.

Mr Osborne also said previously that he proposed to slash the welfare bill by £11 billion by 2014/15. Today, he said a further £7 billion would be cut in this area.

The £7 billion includes the decision to scrap child benefit for higher rate taxpayers.

The Home Office is being slashed by almost a quarter - undoubtedly raising fears about the police force. Osborne said he “aimed” to avoid any reduction in the “visibility and availability of police on our streets.”

The environment department will lose 29%, while culture will be trimmed by 24%.

Finally, on a positive note, the schools budget will increase to £39 billion, from £35 billion, while the education department will be hit with a slightly lesser cut of 3.4% over the four year period.

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