Danny Alexander: 'We take impact of cuts seriously'

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander insisted today that proper assessments would be made of the impact of "painful" spending cuts due to be announced next month.

He said that although the Government's plans were driven by the need to reduce the budget deficit, they would "embed greater fairness" in the tax and welfare system.



Mr Alexander said it was important to understand the effects of the changes planned as part of the comprehensive spending review.



He was speaking during a question and answer session with his Cabinet colleagues on the final day of the Liberal Democrat conference in Liverpool.



The emergency Budget earlier this year was criticised in some quarters for disproportionately affecting women and the poorest in society.



But Mr Alexander said an equalities impact assessment would be carried out along with other checks to measure the effects of the spending proposals.



He said: "I will make sure all these sorts of assessments are carried out, not just by the Treasury but by the departments who are putting forward the spending ideas. I'm sure my colleagues here and colleagues in other departments will make sure that when they are making decisions about spending measures that the relevant impact assessments are undertaken.



"It is very important we do understand those impacts so that we know the effects that the measures we are considering will take.



"It's not just the equalities issues ... we need to understand the impact on different regions of the country. We know that different parts of the country have different degrees of dependence on the public sector. We need to understand those issues too.



"We need to understand the environmental impacts, looking at the impact of the decisions we make on carbon dioxide emissions.



"All those things need to be understood so that we make the best decisions that we can."



But, he added: "None of those things mean that the decisions that we make are not going to be difficult, in some cases painful.



"We have to remember that the reasons we are making those decisions is to stabilise the economy, get our public finances under control and be able to move the country forward in a more prosperous way in future."



Pressed on whether the results of the assessments would be published, Mr Alexander did not answer, but said: "Many of the measures that we have already taken - lifting nearly one million low-paid workers out of tax, re-introducing the earnings link for pensioners, many of the other changes we have already made - actually embed greater fairness in the system.



"Things that could have been done in the last 13 years and weren't done. So I think we can hold our heads up high on that question."



Business Secretary Vince Cable said the impact of changes in student support would need to be examined closely.



He said: "There will be cuts and we are quite open about that but we have got to make sure that if the system of student support changes then it is done in a fair way that reflects the concern we have for people on low incomes and people who aspire to go through university, that we look at further education in the same way.



"There are a lot of people who go through FE colleges for whom this is a lifeline and who come out of their schools unprepared for adult life and need extra support.



"We have got to make sure when we do these very difficult decisions that there is a proper assessment of the impact on the distribution of income."









Asked about commitments to ensuring 0.7% of GNP was spent on development aid, Mr Alexander said: "It is morally the right thing to do. We have great problems in this country, there are financial problems, there are social problems that...we need to address.

"That is as nothing to the problems that people in the countries we are talking about suffer from.



"It is right therefore to do it, it is also in our own interests."



Mr Cable said: "One of the big differences between what is happening now and what happened in the 1980s is that we haven't lost our moral compass."



He said he had seen polling data a year ago saying the public wanted to see cuts in aid, prisons and "anything to do with single mothers".



"The fact that the coalition Government has set itself against that...and is setting priorities on the basis that they are right, as well as being in our national interest is a very, very important statement and goes way beyond the fairly modest amount of money involved."















Asked what his most "surprising discovery" was on entering office, Mr Cable spoke of the "relentless, intense process of meetings and being constantly under scrutiny".

He said: "Now that's not a complaint, we're well-paid and this is what we worked towards, but it's a description.



"I think the one thing I'd advise when you're coming into this job is to keep fit."



Mr Cable said one of his most "interesting" days as a Cabinet minister was a visit to the Aston Martin factory.



"They took me out, took me behind the wheel and let me drive at 150mph round the circuit," he said. "And that made it all seem worthwhile."



Mr Alexander cited Communities Secretary Eric Pickles as his "surprising discovery".



He said: "He's someone who I didn't know very well but had preconceptions about - and he turned about to be the most formidable Cabinet ally in driving forward localism and decentralisation in Government."

Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Sport
Jose Mourinho restrains his assistant manager Rui Faria, Fabio Borini celebrates his winning penalty and Connor Wickham equalises for Sunderland
sportChelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Deafeat is extra bitter as former Chelsea player Fabio Borini scores late penalty to seal victory
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit