George Osborne defends IMF criticism of his economic strategy


Chancellor George Osborne has rejected criticism of his economic austerity strategy by the International Monetary Fund.

IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard warned last week that Mr Osborne was "playing with fire" if he continued with his current deficit reduction plan.

The Chancellor told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "That is one voice. The chief economist has a well known set of views on this which he has expressed in various forms over several years."

He acknowledged that the UK faced a "slow and difficult" recovery, which was being hampered by the continued weakness of the eurozone.

"What the IMF has said, actually, is that the United Kingdom is forecast to grow more than Germany, than France, than the rest of the eurozone," he said.

"The British economy of course faces very serious economic challenges. The fact that the rest of our neighbours are having an even tougher economic time does not help because a lot of our exports do go there.

"We have a slow and difficult recovery because of the problems of the banking system, and those are the problems that need addressing which is why we have things like the Funding for Lending scheme to businesses to grow and homeowners to borrow."