British Chancellor George Osborne has announced £3 billion of spending cuts and £1.5 billion of asset sales as the new Conservative government works to balance the budget.
All this comes despite five years of coalition ‘austerity’ which still sees government spending at historically high levels.
The cuts are in addition to £13 billion announced for 2015-16, and an anticipated £30 billion expected in 2017-18, reports The Guardian. The savings will come from all Whitehall departments apart from ring-fenced health, education, and overseas aid spending, with transport and defence taking the biggest hits on budget.
Despite the reduction in the Ministy of Defence’s (MoD) budget likely to amount to 1.5 per cent of the total of military spending and the dire warnings made by recently retired senior officers about the catastrophic effect it could have on capability, a MoD spokesman leapt to the governments defence, remarking:
“This agreement will not impact on the baseline defence budget, manpower numbers or current operations. The UK will continue to spend 2% of GDP on defence in this financial year.”
Hitting the two per cent of GDP on defence spending target remains political sensitive, despite protestations before the election that ‘there are no votes in defence’. Cameron stood before his peers at the major NATO summit in Cardiff last year and pledged Britain would not drop below the agreed minimum, a promise he seems set to break before the next election.
Left-wing British newspaper The Independent reports the government has been accused of “tricking” voters by attempting to pay down the national debt.
Although deficit growth continued through the whole of the coalition, with national debt going from 60 per cent of GDP in 2009 to a remarkable 80 percent by this year, the rate of growth is slowing as budgets are cut – but it will take until 2018 until the UK returns to a surplus, according to Government figures. Only then will the nation begin to pay down the debt accumulated over the past thirty years.
Britain presently owes its debtors over £1.4 trillion.
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