So where are the cuts going to come from Mr Osborne? And Mr Balls, for that matter?
If you read nothing else in our eight pages of our economic news and analysis today – and we have tried to tailor our coverage to give a sense of what it means for you and the country at large – then read the following paragraph.
Hidden in the small print yesterday* was this revelation: only 40 per cent of the public spending cuts between 2009 and 2020 have taken place under this Coalition. The other 60 per cent has been backloaded – left for the next government, basically.
The Office for Budget Responsibility offers this coded warning: “Most of the implied spending cuts in the next Parliament lie beyond the period for which there are currently firm departmental plans.” Translation: no one has figured out where to find them.
The OBR says finding these cuts will be “a significant challenge”, which will be “all the greater” if the next government continues to protect spending on the NHS, schools and international aid. Our economic watchdog adds: “Doubtless each party will be asked to provide greater details of its plans in the run-up to the general election.”
Mr Osborne’s projections suggest that public spending will be lower than at any time during the past 70 years. As my colleague Hamish McRae writes: “You have to question whether that is credible or achievable.” Our political leaders disagree on whether that is what we even want. But none of them will tell us in detail where they will find the cuts. We deserve better.
*Page 148 of the Office for Budget Responsibility analysis of the Chancellor’s plans.Reuse content