Brown's 43bn boost to public spending

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Indy Politics

Chancellor Gordon Brown today unveiled £43 billion-worth of spending pledges in the years to 2004 - effectively firing the starting gun for the next election.

Chancellor Gordon Brown today unveiled £43 billion-worth of spending pledges in the years to 2004 - effectively firing the starting gun for the next election.

He promised that existing tight rules on how the cash should be spent would persist, with money tied to performance and results.

Health and education, as expected, along with defence, were big winners - with the New Deal to help the unemployed off benefit and into work also made permanent.

"The public spending allocations for 2001 to 2004 that I am announcing today are possible because - having eliminated the £28 billion deficit we inherited and having reduced the national debt - the state of our public finances is strong," Mr Brown told MPs, announcing the results of his Comprehensive Spending Review.

But shadow chancellor Michael Portillo swiftly hit back, asking: "Who can believe a word that the Chancellor says now?"

Mr Brown won enthusiastic cheers from his own backbenchers when he announced the widely trailed figure of spending increases.

And setting out the battle lines for an election expected next year, he told the Commons: "We have made our choices. It is now for those who oppose our spending plans to state clearly where their cuts would fall.

"This Government has been prudent for a purpose. Our choice is stability, employment and sustained long-term investment."

With some announcements yet to be made by departmental ministers over the next few days, education has won an extra £12 billion, health £13 billion and defence £2 billion - the first increase since 1985.

Mr Brown also announced details of some new schemes which would either be extended or come into force. Education Secretary David Blunkett, for example, was able to give head teachers next year "not £290 million but £540 million" to spend on improvements.

But the Chancellor warned that the allocations were only possible "by tying new resources to reform and results and by locking in incentives, penalties, inspection and information" to "ensure new investment goes to frontline services".

Transport, local regions, small businesses and matching funds for areas designated for Objective One and other EU funding also won out in Mr Brown's statement.

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