Key points to expect from the spending review


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Chancellor George Osborne is set to unveil his 2015-16 spending review in the House of Commons this afternoon with cuts of £11.5bn already secured through negotiation with government departments.

Here's what to expect:

1. Silence from Labour

The real skirmish - between the broad direction of Labour and Tory economic strategies - has already taken place, with Osborne and the Tories emerging with the flag. The Chancellor wanted to tease out Labour's commitment to spending cuts: would they eschew them and return to spending more? Or keep pace with so-called slasher Osborne?

The two Eds plumped for the latter course (the former being something of a poisoned chalice for Labour), and so are unlikely to bluster too loudly at this afternoon's session in the Commons.

This means that, come 2015, whether or not we have a Tory government in place, the cuts announced today by Osborne will swing into action - if not necessarily in the exact same places.

2. No sweat for the spooks

Not all departments face a trim. In England, spending on the NHS and education won't be touched.

More surprisingly, given the recent kerfuffle over government snooping, the intelligence services MI5, MI6, and GCHQ will not only have their budgets protected - but increased by inflation plus three per cent.

3. Pain for local government

For anybody who works in local government, the next few hours won't be pretty. Cuts of 10 per cent are expected to local councils and authorities. This comes on top of of a report from Zurich Municipal that since 2010 416,000 staff have been shed from the sector.

According to MSN, this new round of cuts could see a further 16.1% fall in jobs, roughly 500,000 staff, by 2018.

4. Wrestling welfare

Think tank Policy Exchange has called on the Government to include state pensions in the expected cap on welfare spending. By 2061-2, it claims, the state pension bill will take up 8.3 per cent of GDP as the population ages. At the moment the figure stands at 5.6 per cent.

We'll have to wait to see if Osborne takes the recommendation on board. Chances, for the moment, look slim.

5. Build? Build! Build!

New infrastructure projects are slated to grab tomorrow's headlines, with many expecting the announcement of a large road-widening programme (hurrah!). Meanwhile, for those who don't live on wide roads, there are hopes that some house-building could also be announced, alongside money for high-speed rail and the development of the A14 corridor in East Anglia.

In total, Osborne is expected to confirm plans to invest £15bn in infrastructure during the next parliament.