In Brief

Should George Osborne ease back on the pace of austerity?

Chancellor urged to slow down on spending cuts to protect the most vulnerable people in society

The Chancellor is coming under increasing pressure to slow the pace of government cuts – and from international economists as well as anti-poverty campaigners and local councils.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which backed George Osborne's austerity measures in the last parliament, is the latest group to warn of the effects of continued spending squeezes.

It highlighted the importance of reducing the effects of the cuts on the working poor and warned that the speed of the Chancellor's debt consolidation strategy risked putting the recovery in danger, the Financial Times reports.

Other influential bodies have already raised an eyebrow at the speed with which Osborne is introducing cuts. In response to the March budget, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility criticised the "rollercoaster" nature of planned spending cuts.

Labour is expected to urge the government to slow the pace of austerity today and embrace a more "moderate" plan for deficit reduction, claiming that Osborne's plan to eliminate all borrowing by 2017-18 was reminiscent of "neocon ideology".

Cuts to adult social care mean some of the most vulnerable people in society are being "placed in jeopardy", reports The Independent. As the social care budget is not ring-fenced, it has been cut by £4.6bn since 2010, a 31 per cent overall reduction. Health service bosses warn that social care cuts are adding to the pressure felt by the NHS. 

Police forces have also been hit by budget cuts, with funding slashed by 18 per cent in real terms between 2010 and 2016, and "significant" further cuts expected, according to the National Audit Office.

The public spending watchdog says that the Home Office has little understanding of how much further it can cut funding in England and Wales without putting services at risk, the BBC reports.

Defending his debt consolidation strategy last month, Osborne told the Confederation of British Industry: "When it comes to saving money, we all know that the more you can do early, the smoother the ride."

But he may have other motives, the Guardian suggests. "Tory strategists are keen to push through painful cuts in the early years of the parliament to allow room for tax giveaways and more generous public sector pay settlements ahead of the 2020 election," says the newspaper.

Recommended

‘If Michelangelo spent all his time on chin-ups he might not have done the Sistine Chapel’
Instant Opinion

‘If Michelangelo spent all his time on chin-ups he might not have done the Sistine Chapel’

‘Vaccine refuseniks’: why the hesitancy?
Vaccination
Today’s big question

‘Vaccine refuseniks’: why the hesitancy?

Who was Fred West? From farm labourer to notorious murderer
Fred West
Profile

Who was Fred West? From farm labourer to notorious murderer

Ministers in ‘furious’ battle over Australia trade deal
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss
Behind the scenes

Ministers in ‘furious’ battle over Australia trade deal

Popular articles

The link between Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein examined
Bill Gates
Behind the scenes

The link between Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein examined

What is Donald Trump up to now?
Donald Trump
In Depth

What is Donald Trump up to now?

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Chris Rock stars in the fourth series of Fargo
In Review

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021