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How should the budget deficit be tackled?

11:32 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

Chancellor George Osborne is due to announce plans to make £6bn in spending cuts. Where should the axe fall?

The new government has made reducing the UK's record peacetime borrowing its number one economic priority.

Mr Osborne has said to expect significant reductions to the costs of quangos and some Whitehall departments in next week's announcement.

The coalition government has also announced that it will hold its first "emergency Budget"on Tuesday 22 June.

Do you work in the public sector? Where do you think savings should be made? Should there be spending cuts or tax rises?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    If the govt got back the £60bn it lent to the banks, the budget deficit would be almost halved in one fell swoop. Let's concentrate on getting that money back rather than squeezing the taxpayers for even more, or cutting public services.

  • Comment number 2.

    Should there be spending cuts or tax rises?

    Given the size of the debt I think, inevitably, there will be both, on a scale not seen in the UK for decades.

    The problem is that the public has been told we've come out of a recession and a lot of us are under the impression that we are through the worst of it.

    We are not, the recession was the relatively painless bit on the individual level - its now that we are going to see significant public sector cuts and most tellingly tax rises.

    I'd be very suprised if VAT doesn't rise to at least 20% before the end of the year and thats just the start.

    Brace yourselves UK, the really hard times are just about to start.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    The axe should fall down heavily on beaurocracy.

    Paper pushers in Local Authorities, NHS, Civil Service, Police etc should all be reduced. Unnecessary Quangos, surveys/ reseach and inquiries should be ditched.

    Layers upon layers of National Government, Devolved Government, Regional Government and Town Councils should be reduced.

    Systems such as the benefits system should be simplified to reduce wastage, no wonder many on benefits use it as an occupational choice, getting around all the different types is a full time occupation.

    Government expenses (both MP and Civil Service) should be heavily cut. Final salary pensions should be stopped for all newcommers to Government Agencies.

    We need to severely cut what we pay out to the EU and to those Commonweath countries that are now thriving.

    People cannot afford more tax rises, their purses are empty. Though the realist in me says that they have to happen.

  • Comment number 5.

    There is so much money being wasted in public services. I am a teacher and we are so short of front line staff i.e. teachers, but we have far too many auditers, administrators, coordinators, middle managers all with their snouts in the trough. PLEASE new government cut this publc waste and keep front line staff in place with decent wages and get rid of this beaucratic line of waste which actually stops teachers from teaching, nurses from nursing and police officers from law enforcement

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm a labour supporter, but can see there is ample room for cuts in public spending.

    The problem for the government is not the reaction of those employed in public services, thats to be expected.

    No, the problem for this government is how these cuts will be passed onto the public.

    Going by previous experience, (the poll tax) expect your front line services to be affected, particularly the NHS.

  • Comment number 7.

    There is no magic bullet for this one. I think it is going to have to be a combination of budget cuts and tax rises. We need a realistic long term plan to cut the deficit. Too harsh a cuts immidiately would IMO be counter productive.

    One question that I really would like answered is how much money we spent bailing out the banks, how much can we expect back and when?

  • Comment number 8.

    Renaming government departments and spending a fortune on rebranding costs is hardly a good start to cost cutting. Do they understand that the idea is to spend less not more???

  • Comment number 9.

    The problem with spending cuts be they on Trident or schools or hospitals is that they will ineveitably result in job losses which will then result in increased unemployment benefits which is a further drain on the public purse.
    It seems to me that tax rises on the the "bosses" and companies will also result in job losses causing further benefit increases.
    I believe that there should be an increase in VAT on luxury goods. Essentials such as food (which doesn't attract VAT anyway) and lighting/heating etc should be zero rated whilst VAT on items such as mobile phones, TV's, cars etc should increase.
    I know that this also runs the risk of job losses because people would then be buying less but at least they would have a choice on what to spend their money on. Apart from anything else, most of these goods are manufactured outside of this country so the manufacturing aspect of the job losses would, in the main, be on labour overseas. I do realise that retail jobs could suffer here but I think that is the lesser of many evils.
    The bottom line is that we as a country have been living beyond our means for many years whist doing the equivalent of putting the brown envelopes with the bills in a drawer and hoping they'll go away. They never do! Now is the time to pay and it's going to be increasingly hard for everyone but we have to bite the bullet and do something now otherwise I dread to think what will happen to the fabric of society.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    The first step is blindingly obvious - let the Americans fight their own oil wars, how many billions let alone lives have been wasted?
    Then tackle immigrants - no benefits, deported if convicted of a crime,pay for their healthcare etc.
    Next on the list Quangos - get rid of them.
    Followed by the various nonsense & politically correct departments of government created by Tony Bliar.

    That should keep us going until we can flog off the bamks in a year or two.

  • Comment number 12.

    The deficit is only the tip of the iceberg - the overall debt is the danger beneath the surface!!

    How would I tackle it? Cut the civil service, reduce the number of people going to uni and take a big hatchet to taxes.

    Reduced tax will mean more money in people's pockets to do as they want with it. This is likely to benefit the economy a damn sight more than the money getting lost and misused in Whitehall

  • Comment number 13.

    An increase in VAT to 20% is a much better scenario than a raise in income tax. You still have a choice of what to spend your money on and therefore the increased tax, with income tax you don't get a choice.

    Cuts in benefits have to happen, the long term unemployed who choose not to work must be given working incentives not money. Families who choose to have more than 3 children should also not be supported by the state to the ridiculous extent they are right now.

  • Comment number 14.

    Three areas for starters: 1) The whole tax system needs to be drastically simplified, so that we the taxpayers can fill in our tax forms easily and quickly, with less chance of error, and HMRC won't then need as many people or as much time to check them. 2) Tax Credits are obviously cost-inefficient and notoriously error-prone - there has to be a simpler and cheaper way to get the money to those who truly deserve it. 3) MoD Procurement - I'm sure it costs more to monitor the Defence Procurement process than ever is saved as a result

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    In the news today :-
    "In a stark message left in a Treasury desk for his successor, outgoing chief secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne wrote simply: "I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left."

    Mr Byrne insisted the message was meant as a private joke.

    As the saying goes "many a true word spoken in jest"

    Now we are starting to see just how bad the Labour party has been in power spending our money for no result.

  • Comment number 17.

    First the real debt should be calculated, including the PFI deals and public sector pensions, both of which Gordon Brown kept 'off the books'. Once we know the real debt and the real deficit, a strategy of cutting the public sector costs via jobs losses, pension changes (from DB to DC for all plus lower taxpayer contributions), budget constraints and service reviews combined with tax rises such as VAT and income tax should begin. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the mess Labour have left us with does not exists. Every man, woman and child needs to be aware of what Labours debt legacy means to them and the burden of paying it off should fall across all ages and all incomes. We are really in a mess and we really need some drastic action to save our economy. Still there are some on the Left in denial but I'm sure once we all see the real debt legacy of Labour, even the most ardent Leftist will understand what action we, as a country, need to take.

  • Comment number 18.

    Where should the axe fall to tackle Gordon Brown's budget deficit legacy?

    1) Immediate withdrawal from the EU, 2) Immediate withdrawal of our troops from the illegal wars in which we are involved, 3) Immediate cessation of all foreign aid, 4) Immediate repatriation of all illegal immigrants, 5) Savage cut-backs on non-value-add civil service functions, 6) Immediate pay-back of 'bail-out' capital from those banks who are now posting profits.

  • Comment number 19.

    The government needs to do in government departments what many private sector companies have done. The axe needs to fall on unnecessary expenditure. The whole system needs to be pared down and made to work much more efficiently, budgets must be strictly controlled.

    Those of us working in the private sector have already experienced this. It is now time for public sector workers to undergo the same agonies. Private sector workers know there is no such thing as a job for life anymore, it is time for public sector workers to realise the same.

    Essential public sector services MUST be maintained, but these need to be managed much more efficiently. One crucial aspect of this is that the public should not be made to suffer unnecessarily.

    There WILL need to be some tax rises, and it is probable that VAT will be one of them. It is after all a simple, cheap and efficient method of collecting taxes.

  • Comment number 20.

    *Unnecessary Quangos, surveys/ reseach and inquiries should be ditched. *

    I agree with this, but don't expect the Tories to do anything about it. Just about the first thing Boy George has done is to set up the 'Office for Budget Responsibility' to 'publish economic and fiscal forecasts, rather than the government'. In other words, an unelected body of experts to take over actions previously carried out by the elected government... sounds like a Quango to me! This should be no surprise, Thatcher, in opposition, was critical of Quango, but quickly became the Queen of the Quangos in office, stuffing various boards and bodies with businessmen and bankers and various worthies. After all, Tory policy is explicitly to tackle Big Government: Quangos are non-governmental by definition. Watch this space, the Tories will soon have unelected business leaders taking over vast swathes of governance through those very same 'Unnecessary Quangos, surveys/ reseach and inquiries" they railed against in opposition... as per usual.

  • Comment number 21.

    There should be a combination of tax rises and spending cuts.

    VAT should go up to 20%, basic rate Income Tax should go up to 22% (or, preferably 34%, and get rid of employees NI). Low earners should be protected from the worst of these rises by the rise in the tax threshold to £10,000.

    Corporation tax should go up to 30% (main rate, from 28%).

    Benefits should be capped at £10,000 per household. Child benefits should only go to the youngest 2 children. Disability benefits should be reviewed and only paid to those truly unable to work (in any job, not just in their preferred job).

    Expensive public sector projects need to be scrapped or put on hold. Future projects need to be scaled down to be more achievable, and also contracted to UK contractors preferably, even if slightly more expensive (the government automatically gets a 'discount' from UK companies by getting back the tax revenue)

    There are two ways of doing cuts to the public sector as a whole.

    The preferable one, in my mind, would be for across the board pay cuts - any public sector workers earning over £20,000 should have a pay cut, ranging from 1% for the lowest, to 10% for the highest earners (eg those earning over £100,000). However, I suspect the unions would be against this even though there wouldn't be any job cuts.

    The other option would be to cut all public sector budgets by 5% (saving around £30 billion) - the problem with that is that the managers would probably sack all the people who do the real jobs, rather than themselves - unless it was managed carefully by the ministers in charge.

    The government could kill two birds with one stone by (a) slashing the amount of paperwork/reports needed from various public sector departments and then (b) sacking everyone who used to do the reports which are no longer needed - that would cut the NHS staffing level by about 20% without cutting service.

    Personally, I think the Conservatives have made a mistake by ringfencing NHS spending, as it's the biggest over-spender in the public sector.

  • Comment number 22.

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  • Comment number 23.

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  • Comment number 24.

    This debate needs a little clarification:

    National Debt - the amount this country owes (net) to other countries, the World Bank and IMF.

    Structural Deficit - the amount by which the National Debt is increasing because of the difference between borrowing and taxation.

    Interest Defecit - the amount this country is paying to service the National Debt.

    GDP - Gross Domestic Product, often seen as the value of what this country produces for sale on an annual basis.

    The National Debt is often presented as a percentage of our GDP and this (according to political thinking) should be kept roughly in line, so as the GDP grows so we can overspend and create more deficit.

    The measures being put in place will curb Structural Deficit spending, but don't even start to eat into our National Debt. Therefore we still pay the same interest every month to service our Debt. What we need to do is to create a Structural Credit where we're slowly paying off our National Debt and reducing our interest payments. This has to be a long-term strategy and requires us to expect less from Public Services and the Welfare State. It's not popular but that's the medicine we need to take to make life better for our children and our children's children.

  • Comment number 25.

    14. At 12:15pm on 17 May 2010, Wilcman wrote:

    The whole tax system needs to be drastically simplified, so that we the taxpayers can fill in our tax forms easily and quickly, with less chance of error, and HMRC won't then need as many people or as much time to check them.


    I agree, and here's my simple solution:

    Abolish income tax - that'll cut the number of HMRC staff dramatically.

    Put VAT up to 50% on non-essential items. Its easy, cheap and efficient to collect. And, unless you buy just zero-rated goods, it can't be avoided. How fair is that?

  • Comment number 26.

    Bank profits to be taxed until the taxpayer is full. Reduce fuel tax and get the country moving, scrap the iniquitous passenger departure tax, it is killing the airline industry. Reduce "managers" within the NHS, put an end to health tourism, unless the recipients pay. Negotiate a reduction in our contribution to the EU, reduce foreign aid by 20%. Make it as easy as possible for small, medium and large businesses to operate

  • Comment number 27.

    The rich, the overpayed, but pensioners and ex military personnel should have their pensions at least upgraded to be on a par with the rest of Europe.

  • Comment number 28.

    £6 billion seems to be about 7 weeks worth of national debt interest so I wonder if its really going to make much of a difference as we're still going to have to borrow and will still have a huge national debt.

  • Comment number 29.

    Put Vince Cable in charge.
    George is clueless - remember Corfu, Northern Rock, Chancellors debate, "austerity" speech, etc?
    Whatever measures he intends you can bet Dave, George, Philip Hammond, and all the other millionaires in the Cabinet will not suffer.
    "We are all in it together", another gem from George. No I don't think so!! I am, and most folk will be, but not "them".
    Keep an eye on him Vince!

  • Comment number 30.


    It's already been happening in the public sector, stop crying victim.

  • Comment number 31.

    No Public employee should be allowed to earn more than £100,000. Including

    Council workers, including chief executives
    The PM
    Police chiefs
    NHS Managers and staff

    Everyone paid for out of the public purse

    This fallacy that you have to pay exorbitant salaries to attract people who can do the job is just that a fallacy.

    Anyone who is paid in excess of £100,000 should be taxed at 80%.

    Problem solved

  • Comment number 32.

    If the banks pay us back in full now that would cut it dramatically note the chancellor doesn't want to mention that!
    the Brown plan to cut the deficit in half over four years was a sensible way to deal with it who believes a tory chancellor will not cut front line services Clegg should have insisted on Cable for chancellor
    he has much more financial expertise than osbourne the four year plan would also have avoided the the inevitable damage to the recovery too many cuts too soon would do.and the inevitable mass demonstrations which will accompany them next week we will see oif clegg sold out the recovery for power and whether or not the cuts to come are worthwhile or just so much pr window dressing to placate Rupert Murdoch and the Daily Mail

  • Comment number 33.

    No 1. Please check your facts, the banks ARE repaying the monies loaned on our behalf by Brown.

    There is obviously plenty of scope for cutting costs, the number of unecessary civilian staff in the Police force is one example. All the depts are being very carefully studied for overmanning, managers earning obscene salaries and bonuses.

    Whatever is cut and which ever taxes rise, the blame can be pinned fairly and squarely on the last government, everyone would do well to remember this.

    The anticipated rise in the rate of VAT could have the opposite effect from the intention of acquiring more tax. It will impact very heavily on the costs of essentials, food etc and harm those rural dwellers who have no choice other than to use a car for work, shopping and recreation.

    A two tier level would be the most sensible and affect fewer low income people, no one can actually claim that the large expensive consumer items such as flat screen TVs, the latest mobile phone etc. are essential any more than prepared supermarket meals, salads are. There are so many items that could carry a higher rate. The well off will continue to purchase, the less well off may have to learn how to chop up a lettuce.

    It is more important to keep people in work and also encourage those not in work to take a job, any job to cut down on benefit payments.

    People in work have money to spend, more money spent, more taxes raised.

  • Comment number 34.

    The UK can not afford to borrow £1 for every £4 it spends so all of you bleating on about not making cuts, you need a lesson in ecomomics and/or basic maths.

    Can anybody tell me how well the Irish economy is doing? About 18 months ago they had cuts across the board on public spending, public sector pay and benefits!

    It strikes me that we could learn a lot from the Irish experience!

  • Comment number 35.

    Cut back on things that are not useful. For example the massive number of quangos. Scrap VED (road tax), and just collect it on fuel which will save much of the half a billion pounds the DVLA costs to run each year. Scrap TV licences as almost everyone has one and it will be far cheaper to collect the small amount in general taxation. Simplify general taxation so that less work is required to collect and check it (eg, why is NI split off from normal tax, and why doesn't it apply to unearned income). Scrap ID cards (at least that is a certainty). Remove the over burdensome checking of everyone (how much teaching time is wasted on constant tests, assessments and ever changing curriculum making the previous years planning useless, similar situations apply in the NHS with figures being fiddled to look good on some statistics).

  • Comment number 36.

    The deficit is only a portion of the problem; it's the debt that is the real monster, likely to be a couple of trillion by the time government has waded through the scorched earth left by Labour. Osbourne and co have a huge, huge task and it will not be easy. Whatever they do, they will be blatted by those who stand to lose on the roundabouts, even if they gain a bit on the swings. VAT rise is inevitable, I hope they can keep it off of food, however, since food isn't a luxury. But they'd save masses by telling Europe to shove its membership; that black hole takes with one hand and gives nothing back with the other.

  • Comment number 37.

    Since the budget deficit only appeared when we gave billions to the banks to bail out their greed and incompetence, I think it should come from them.

  • Comment number 38.

    Pass a law banning anyone from suing public services for accidental injury then cover them by a no-blame insurance scheme - a bit like the ACC in New Zealand.

    Then get rid of any paperwork which only exists as a paper trail for the legal process if someone sues.

    This will free up enormous amounts of front-line staff time, especially in the NHS, police and education, resulting in lower agency staff requirements, less sick leave due to stress and more closed hospital beds reopened.

  • Comment number 39.

    Make those that profiteer from debt pay the debt! Get the wealthy elites and their corporate buddies to pay up!

  • Comment number 40.

    The absolute last resort should be to cut the public services we all rely on, particularly if you are poor or disadvantaged. No, we should be getting the money back from the banking system, which would have folded without the taxpayers help! We also need to close tax loop holes and employ more staff at HMRC to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance. This measure alone would bring in around £75-100 billion extra each year. Deficit eliminated within 2 years and no hardship for the ordinary citizen. The talk of reducing the deficit to give the 'markets' confidence - are these not the very people who helped create the financial crash in the first place?

  • Comment number 41.

    1. At 11:58am on 17 May 2010, 4Flem wrote:

    If the govt got back the £60bn it lent to the banks, the budget deficit would be almost halved in one fell swoop."

    OK, several mistakes there.

    The government hasn't lent ANY money to the banks. It bought equity in the banks. It can't get back that money other than by selling all the shares it owns. It was was to dump those shares onto the stock market now, it would only get back a small fraction of the money it paid for them. It is better to sell them off gradually, and possibly wait until there is more of a recovery under way before doing it to get the best return.

    The current deficit is around £160 billion. That's not the public sector debt. That's how fast the debt is growing.

    So, if the government COULD get back £60 billion, that would be less than half the current year's deficit. Yes, it would be good to save £60 billion. However, it would only be a one off "saving" this year - it wouldn't have any effect at all on next year's deficit, which would still be £160 billion unless other savings were done, so it's a pretty ineffective thing to do.

    (OK, it would save the interest on the £60 billion, but that's only going to be a couple of billion, so hardly worth it, compared to the other £158 billion that would still be going out of the coffers).

  • Comment number 42.

    in the first instance take action to ensure all the so called "captains of industry" pay their taxes like the rest of us make them pay a form of PAYE instead of being able to "defer" tax due.secondly cease all so called "development aid" it is unfortunate that most of this aid either goes into the pockets of corrupt officials or contracts awarded to "captains of industry" who then attempt to avoid the tax on the profit.thirdly,get rid of all QUANGO's.As for private sector workers getting a rough deal they forget that those in the public service accept a lower renumeration in the main as they are mlotivated by service and not greed for the fast buck.

  • Comment number 43.

    It may not wipe out the d3efecit but I think that Government, both local and national, should take a serious look at the tendering process and approved suppliers lists. It seems to me that getting on an approved suppliers list is a licence for a firm to charge many times the going rate for products and services. The extra cost, nationwide, must run into the billions.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think the first thing the chancellor is going to have to do is find out exactly what is owed where to whom. It was wreckless of Alistair Darling to not publish a spending review before the election, we all know why he didn't do it, labour would really have been finished and it would have handed the conservatives an overwhelming majority. I wonder just how many other poor decisions were made over the economy in the few months leading up to the election.

    I think it will be a month or so at lesat before we will find out what 'we' need to do to clear up the last administrations messes, I wonder how much wriggling and squirming that they will do.

  • Comment number 45.

    Maybe look at those people in public office who are paid ridiculous amounts? Put the money where it is needed and not on NHS 'managers', unnecessary school tests, private contractors etc?
    Remember that not all people on benefits are scroungers. Many are full-time cares for disabled partners, children or family members who actually save the government a fortune.
    Lets not see a budget that hits those who can least afford it, but one that stops MPs claiming huge expenses!

  • Comment number 46.

    As a taxpayer, at both local & national levels, I am fed up with politicians treating the public services as a job creation scheme without regard for either the cost or the efficency of the service provided.
    For example, years ago, a simple task like emptying the bins used to require refuse cart crews to consist of a driver and about four bin collectors to pick up the bins, empty them and then return them to the householders door. Now a driver drives a modern vehicle which picks up the bins, emptys them and puts them down again. One man is required to drive, and one to make sure that the bins are in line, and clear of parked cars etc. A huge saving in labour and costs. This is one example of modern technology saving the taxpayer money, yet most councils are still top heavy, with a large number of directors of this and that all on inflated salaries for doing tasks which lots of people do not think are even the councils responsibility.
    The NHS is the same, with an army of suits managing increasingly pressurised medical staff to meet some arbitrary target. The whole ethos of public service needs to be looked at. Vast areas should be looked at and, if neccessary, the systems dismantled, and rebuilt from the bottom up.
    This is only part of the problem however. Vast sums were given to the banks to keep them afloat at the height of the financial crisis. This money will have to be repaid, and they should never be allowed to get us into a similar situation again. Over to you Vince Cable, and I hope that the new government will give them their full support.
    If there have to be tax rises, and it is probably inevitable, then those who have benefited from the present lax regulation should be the hardest hit. In a free society, there should be no need to soak the rich, it smacks of envy, but the gap between rich & poor in the UK has widened to ridiculous levels, and it would do no harm at all to narrow it a bit.
    Like most people, I am fed up with those who make the choice to have a lifetime on state benefits. It should not be possible to be better off not working, and steps should be taken to put a stop to those who are fit to work but refuse to do so. I have never been a fan of the Tories, but they normally make all the right noises on this one. Let's see some action.
    The state should be cutting its cloth to suit the available income. Let's have a good look at all projects and prioritise them. It's good that they have abandoned the ID card scheme and the third runway at Heathrow, but there must be many other prestige projects which are also ripe for the chop

  • Comment number 47.

    It would be easy to cover the deficit if the government made the banks repay the tax payer loan. I find it incredulous that the previous administration just blithely handed over OUR money without a firm coommitment from the banks on repayment.

    The previous government deliberately left the books in disarray to make the next government look bad in cutting services. Mr Brown was a failure as chancellor & a failure as a leader, I dread to think how bad a state he has left the country's books in. I like what I am hearing so far regarding cost cutting measures, this country has become too top heavy, with too many managers taking too much money in pay & bonuses while those who actually do the important WORK are shafted left right & centre. I hope the money saving continues in the same vein.

  • Comment number 48.

    30. At 12:31pm on 17 May 2010, PulpGrape wrote:

    It's (cuts etc.) already been happening in the public sector, stop crying victim.


    It may well be, but not as fast or as deep as it should.

  • Comment number 49.

    The axe should fall on all those overpaid underworked bosses within the health service and civil service, also, dissolve all the quango's that were set up to give job's for the boys by labour. You don't need chief executives and thousands of hanger-on managers to run a hospital. Specialists, doctors and nurses know how to run a hospital, as far as the admin side is concerned a modest number of managers and clerks as in any other business will suffice.

  • Comment number 50.

    We should immediately pull out of the ill-concieved campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is completely unclear to me why we are still there, other than cosying up to the Americans, as we are not wanted and the objectives seem to be woolly at best. This would save a vast amount of money at a stroke.

    And after that, we should ensure that the banks pay their due share of the deficit. Between them, these measures would stave off the worst of the public services cuts, saving services and thousands of UK jobs.

  • Comment number 51.

    It's very easy for the rich and well-off to cut spending and increase tax - they will never feel the effects. No one in the new government has ever been even close to being on the breadline. I don't expect Osborne to understand that a 20% decrease in income for someone on a 15k salary has a vastly different effect than the same decrease for someone on a 40k salary.

  • Comment number 52.

    "37. At 12:36pm on 17 May 2010, greencircle wrote:
    Since the budget deficit only appeared when we gave billions to the banks to bail out their greed and incompetence, I think it should come from them."

    I'm sorry to say that you have bought the 'all the bankers' fault' excuse hook, line and sinker.

    The deficit has been steadily growing as GB, first as chancellor and then as pm, borrowed more and more. If the baks repaid every penny now, there would still be problems.

  • Comment number 53.

    They should scrfap ID cards and about half the politicians in the country for starters. We don't need 650 in the HoC and we don't need 70 Cllrs to run Local Authorites either.

    Then we should be looking at things like Afghanistan and EEC contributions which as one of the poor men of Europe should be much less or even coming our way now...

    And then there are the banks. They owe us money, get it back off them. Their shareholders took the risks, let them pay the prices.

    I'd say scrap Trident too, but the Tories would never do that...

  • Comment number 54.

    Get the bail-out bank money back!

    Stop the "PC police" and "equality rottweilers". Make it more difficult for silly money to awarded in court for hurt feelings with no real physical harm.

    Fight the blame-litigation culture: life carries a risk and everyone contributes to it - therefore don't try and blame a single error for all your misfortunes. Smaller levels of compensation for individual errors.

    Accept that NHS cuts will mean that there is less treatment available. The Human Rights Act will not cover the shortfall so don't expect other people to accept that the conditions afflicting your nearest and dearest are automatically prioritised and funded.

    Cut benefits unless "workfare" is provided. Many are so used to claiming and then working on the grey/black economy. It is theft from those who do not abuse the system. Don't expect any sympathy or leeway for your father having belted you once or twice in your life.

    Immigration reversed - even if this means pulling out of the EU.

    Health tourism stopped - we have to pay the going rate in other countries, visitors can do the same here.

    Support for pointless university courses withdrawn.

    Cutting the fuel supply to the civil service and local authority gravy trains. If councillors really worked for the benefit of the community, they would take a reasonable level of expenses and not use the inflated expense levels as an alternative source of income.

    Cut the QUANGOs. Only a minority produce anything of general, lasting worth.

    Increase VAT to 20%; increase income tax to 22% and 45% respectively. Tax bonuses at 50% to £25000 and 75% above that.


  • Comment number 55.

    Increase VAT and the result is less spending, which hits all those companies trying to recover from the recession and therefore unemployment rises. The last government managed to keep unemployment down which meant people were still paying tax instead of claiming benefit. The gap in wealth has risen, the highest paid earn 81X the average wage, average not minimum, this is obscene. In the US it is 350-400X and we could go that way unless something is done
    In his speech today George Osborne looked totally out of his depth lets hope he has someone to help him, at least Brown and Darling understood what they were talking about
    It's always so easy to say cut waste, they all say it and the public sector is so huge that talking about cuts there is vaque until they talk specifics and then people become less keen. The next line will be the debt is much worse than we thought, it's said by every new party when they get in
    If the Cons are really worried why don't multi millionaires like Cameron, Osborne, Rees- Mogg and Goldsmith organise a whip round, we'll then see if they really care about the country. If they and their like gave up more we might listen to what they say

  • Comment number 56.

    33. At 12:33pm on 17 May 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:

    No 1. Please check your facts.


    Perhaps you should do the same - see below.


    33. At 12:33pm on 17 May 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:

    The anticipated rise in the rate of VAT could have the opposite effect from the intention of acquiring more tax. It will impact very heavily on the costs of essentials, food etc and harm those rural dwellers who have no choice other than to use a car for work, shopping and recreation.


    From HMRC website:

    Food and drink, animals, animal feed, plants and seeds

    Food and drink for human consumption is, in general, zero-rated but many items are standard-rated, including alcoholic drinks, confectionery, crisps and savoury snacks, food for catering or hot takeaways, ice cream, soft drinks and mineral water.
    Because certain food and drink is zero-rated, so too are certain animals and animal feeds, and plants and seeds - if the animal or plant in question is normally used for human consumption.

    Go here to find out more, you might be surprised at what is zero rated:

    As for using a car, there are a number of ways even rural dwellers can reduce the costs. How about car sharing for a start?

    I also happen to live in rural Sussex...

  • Comment number 57.

    37. At 12:36pm on 17 May 2010, greencircle wrote:

    Since the budget deficit only appeared when we gave billions to the banks to bail out their greed and incompetence, I think it should come from them."

    Nonsense. The deficit was there all along. Yes, it started growing rapidly at a similar time to the government buying half the banks, but that's because that was the time of the recession.

    Basically, the government was spending far more than it should have been, and the income was dropping off rapidly due to the recession. The government just kept on spending more and more despite this. Results, massive deficit.

    The deficit has been about £160 billion for the past couple of years. At the start of 2008 the public sector debt was about £500 billion, now it's about £900 billion. About £60 billion of that £400 billion deficit has been money spent buying bank equity. The rest was just general overspending.

  • Comment number 58.

    Details are coming to light about Brown's irresponsible scorched earth spending spree during the dying months of the Labour government.True to form when defeat looms, Labour has once again left an economic waste land for their successors to clean up. The starting point for cuts should be to list all the projects, largesse to P.C. projects, quangos, new Civil Service bonus schemes, hand outs and bribes introduced during the past 6 months...and cancel them. The new LibCon coalition should state clearly that they will not be bound by any Labour decisions reached during the past year as part of Brown's slash and burn sabotage.
    No responsible politicians - trade unions - public servants could realistically object to that. Then people finally get the message and that the ball is over and the piper must be paid.

  • Comment number 59.

    Here's a drastic but sensible solution; cut all forms of income tax to 15% at every income level.

    Study after study has shown that, regardless of your politics, this is how to get the MOST money into the Treasury. The rich will flock to pay their taxes here. And the increased tax take can be used to lift the tax threshold to the full £10,000 immediately.

  • Comment number 60.

    40. At 12:40pm on 17 May 2010, Dave Mudie wrote:

    We also need to close tax loop holes and employ more staff at HMRC to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance. This measure alone would bring in around £75-100 billion extra each year. Deficit eliminated within 2 years and no hardship for the ordinary citizen."

    Another person who doesn't understand the difference between deficit and debt... (as well as who likes making up imaginary numbers)

    PS - also, you can't 'clamp down on tax avoidance' - there's nothing to clamp down on. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal, and there's no reasonable way to stop it because many 'tax avoidance' methods are moral as well as legal (eg donating portions of profits to charity).

  • Comment number 61.

    What ought to be done:

    Require the banks to repay their debt to the public purse BEFORE they can post a profit, or pay dividends to shareholders
    Bring the troops out of Afghanistan
    Stop giving handouts to countries which do not need them (e.g. India who quite happily launches space rockets but scrounges instead of looking after its own citizens)
    Leave the Olympics to look after itself - it's a commercial venture
    Ring-fence funding to core services - health, education, law & order, safety net for those not earning - but require efficiency savings to be made so that they do not need even more.

    Sort out the whole taxation/benefit system so that it is clear to all precisely who should contribute what, nobody should be both paying tax and receiving any benefit - if they are poor enough to need help they ought not to be paying tax in the first place!

    Standardise support payments to a flat rate irrespective of the reason why the individual is not earning, but make that the ONLY payment received, it should be sufficient for basic living costs to be met (food, utilities, council tax & rent).

  • Comment number 62.

    Tackle the Barnett Formula.

    We're supposed to be a "United Kingdom" but currently Scots get >£1500 more per person per year funding from central government than English people do. While there should be variations across the home nations £1500 more pp is taking the...

    Yes I know there are "regional" variations across England but as the regions have never been put to the English people in a vote they remain illegitimate. England one nation - getting the least per head funding.

    All should get the same - it's called equality.

  • Comment number 63.

    Getting the money back from the banks is a good idea but that would only help with one years budget defecit.

    The problem is we are spending around £700 billion a year as a country but only taking in £540 billion in revenue leaving £160 billion defecit every year.

    We have first to ask ourselves how we ended up here, was it one big Labour bluder or was it defecit by a thousand increases blunder.

    I tend to think that apart from the Wars in Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan the latter of defecit by a thousand inreases has been the cause.

    GP's Consultants and Nurses contracts, way above inflation
    Too many managers in Public Services

    To many Politically Correct positions created and adverised in the Guardian

    ID cards

    Biometric Passports

    Introduction of the Minimum wage in line with inflation leading to the Governemnts billions on tax credits when it has been proved that companies in none Minimum wage jobs ahave paid their workers far more than inflation over past 13 years, meaning the government are paying for the shoddy employers paying the minimum wage and the tax payer topping up these employers shortfalls by tax credits.

    The absolute waste of money on PFI building hospitals and schools with contracts which has saddled the taxpayer with projects which when paid will be 10 times their original building costs when you as a consumer taken out a mortgage works out at only around 2 - 2.5 times the property value.

    Labour Quango's

    Public sector pensions and bonuses

    The list is endless and the task is thankless all of the above are signed into contracts so unless we can break the contracts, there is no way out of the defecit.

  • Comment number 64.

    I dont think that for one moment that its a good idea to cut jobs in the public sector, that would only add to our problems and also ruin many individuals families.

    The public sector should be prepared to take a significant pay cut instead, maybe 20% and if that means altering their lifestyle then so be it, the rest of us who can only rely on our companies profitability have not had rises for a few years.

    Some governtment departments are the first to squeeze private contractors!

  • Comment number 65.

    Remove the subsidy to Scottish & Irish Banks (force them to buy official bank notes)
    Simplify the tax system, harder to avoid & easier to enforce.
    Green taxes actually on pollution, rather than the green-wash we have now.

    But for the billions, then reduce public sector head count, mainly government agencies and quangos. Look to reduce benefits, how come the people on benefits always seem to have new TV’s Sky and the latest games console, why claiming that food is too expensive.

    42 –“As for private sector workers getting a rough deal they forget that those in the public service accept a lower remuneration in the main as they are motivated by service and not greed for the fast buck.” Get real -- public sector pay is higher and the benefits better. As with most people in the private sector I have not had an above inflation rise for years. Strike and my job will be Beijing or Bangalore.

  • Comment number 66.

    46 thomas Thompson wrote:
    Like most people, I am fed up with those who make the choice to have a lifetime on state benefits. It should not be possible to be better off not working, and steps should be taken to put a stop to those who are fit to work but refuse to do so.


    The problem is that the government tops up peoples benefits to a a level that gives them all their needs. Once you are on the long term gravy train it doesnt stop paying out.

    Yet why do some working families have to rely on state top ups to achieve a living income (what ever that includes), surely the problem is employers who are not paying a living wage.?

  • Comment number 67.

    Prepare for the great lie: "We didn't know how bad the public finances were. Labour made crazy spending plans. There is a black hole.' This will be followed up by 'reluctantly, we will have to raise VAT and we won't be able to do as much for NHS / Schools / Police as we thought!' It is all so predictable- exactly what they did in each local authority where they came to power. Once they have cleared away all of the promises they are going to break 'because of Labour' the budget will attack the usual Tory target groups: the poor, the aged and the workless. What needs to be in the budget is continual investment for jobs! You wouldn't dream of paying off your mortgage when in financial distress but tjat's exactly what Osborne is proposing to do. It is a 1960s village bank manager's approach to the problems of the real, big, modern society. How anybody bought the ConDems as a party for the second millennium is beyond me. Jobs create spenders who support business who create wealth. Even at George Osborne's school they must have done arithmetic sometimes that wasn't in Roman Numerals! Our only hope now is that enough Lib Dems baulk at this travesty of modern economics to and force their cabinet members to push for a budget for growth. Even if they don't succeed they will at least get a wake-up call to tell them what a terrible thing they have done to the British people!

  • Comment number 68.

    50. At 12:46pm on 17 May 2010, nick_c wrote:
    We should immediately pull out of the ill-concieved campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan.


    We HAVE pulled out of Iraq....

  • Comment number 69.

    I agree cuts do need to be made but please don't cut front-line services ie: hospitals, police, teachers etc.

    There are so many areas where cuts can be made for example, NHS Managers, Quangos, some Council workers - especially those on huge salaries. Savings can be made in so many areas so why is it when cuts are made they affect the ordinary person in the street, for example your rubbish collection will be hit (It's not a great service as it is), grass won't be cut etc? No wonder most people get so angry with governments and still they don't seem to understand why!

    I'm not sure I agree with tax rises - aren't we taxed enough already? Maybe put up VAT (which I know is a tax) on some items - then it's up to you if you want to buy them or not. Many workers' salaries are either being reduced or frozen but things like cars, food etc is still rising - I don't see how that can be right. Everytime I go to the supermarket I notice something I bought last week has gone up in price. They put some items on special offer but always retrieve the money back by putting other items of food up and they think people won't notice!! Well I do and if I see it has gone up I flatly refuse to buy it even if I need it - I try other supermarkets instead. No wonder supermarkets and oil companies are the only ones making a huge profit while everyone else is struggling.

    I do worry about the Conservatives being in power - unfortunately I have a good memory and remember the last time they run the country - high unemployment, long NHS waiting lists, high interest rates. I wonder if they've learned anything from then - probably not. Same old faces, same old solutions!

  • Comment number 70.

    Abolish income tax for those earning below £12k pa, abolish road tax, abolish fuel duty and increase VAT to 50% on all non-essential items

  • Comment number 71.

    First of all do a full audit, as would be the case when any company goes bust and enters administration, which is what has happened to Britain. This will uncover areas where vast saving can be made, much, much more than 6 billion, without affecting front line services at all. The whole of the public service sector (including local Government) is one big waste machine which is a bureaucratic overstaffed, inefficient and sometime corrupt & often incompetent state led monster. The Tories should take note that this is not all Labour's fault as the seeds for the State (pan intended) of the public services were sown by the Tories in the 90's; Labour just made it worst with their Tax & Waste policies. BTW, I've seen the waste machine fist hand, it is very worrying indeed.

    Straight away we can start cutting off the state benefits of the true career Benefit scroungers who cost the Sate billions. We need to make it worth while people working, so cutting taxes, especially for low earners and cutting benefits is vital. However we need a nation which creates real, skilled and well paid jobs, so we need to encourage companies to invest in Britain. At present we punish companies with unfair taxes which simply make them leave the country and put more people on the dole. This must stop now.

    Stop pandering to criminals, keep them off the streets. This in itself we save money. But of course we need a new judicial system which is fair and hard on criminals, especially repeat offenders. Tough on Crime, tough on the causes of crime.

    Given the savings which can be made, there should be no need to raise Taxes, which means people have more money to spend, meaning increase VAT takings and growth as a whole.

  • Comment number 72.

    It should be spending cuts.

    The previous government threw huge increases in taxpayer money at public services -- spending on things like the NHS and education have doubled or trebled since labour came to power in 1997. I don't see why cutting back spending to the levels that prevailed a few years ago means we can't still have good public services.

    The trouble is that when money is indiscriminately thrown at something it tends not to be spent very well. The difficulty will be targetting cuts at the less efficient uses of our taxpayer money.

    that I don't see why

  • Comment number 73.

    ``4Flem wrote:
    If the govt got back the £60bn it lent to the banks, the budget deficit would be almost halved in one fell swoop. Let's concentrate on getting that money back rather than squeezing the taxpayers for even more, or cutting public services.``

    You have failed to understand the situation. Raising £60b for one year would mean we borrow less for that one year. But what are you going to do for the budget deficit for the following years?

  • Comment number 74.

    How about starting by stopping the benefits to those who are simply not willing to work, or feel they would be better off scrounging from the rest of us?

    Its bad enough that we are forced to support these people, but its increasingly common for them to thank us in a 'two fingered' way by selling their story and grinning mug shots to the gossip press.

  • Comment number 75.

    What would a business do? If the UK was a business, it has a bloated back office which which works very hard but doesn't actually generate any money and a very small team of income generators who also work hard but do not make enough money to keep the business in profit. To get it back to profit it needs to cut the back office down to the minimum necessary to function and concentrate on the income generators.

    While we all like public services, we should only have those we can afford. We should cut the public sector down to the minimum necessary while we get out of bankruptcy and then build it up when we can afford to do so.

  • Comment number 76.

    get rid of Tridant Submarine replacement. It is too costly. We can still maintain a nuclear deterrant by upgrading attack submarines to fire cruise missiles.

  • Comment number 77.

    40. At 12:40pm on 17 May 2010, Dave Mudie wrote:

    We also need to close tax loop holes and employ more staff at HMRC to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance. This measure alone would bring in around £75-100 billion extra each year.
    Totally incorrect figures. However, closing tax loop holes should be looked at, but whatever the outcome, those people & companies will simply find other ways not to pay tax so the about received will less than expected.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    "The problem with spending cuts ... is that they will ineveitably [sic] result in job losses which will then result in increased unemployment benefits which is a further drain on the public purse."

    But unemployment benefit costs the treasury a lot less than paying someone a wage. And hopefully those that lose their jobs will get work in the private sector, where they will become net contributors to the economy.

  • Comment number 80.

    Easy. Get the billionaires to start paying taxes, scrap Trident and all other nuclear weapons we don't need, put bankers in jail and seize all their assets if they pay themselves bonuses, and reduce spending on the military by not invading other countries

  • Comment number 81.

    Tax must not be increased. Spending must be reduced.
    Also agree with the majority of other comments - get the money back from the banks. Otherwise we are paying twice for the bankers incompetance.
    Besides if we dont pay up what can they do? Repossess the country - I don't think so.
    Reduce taxation and increase the levy on bank excesses.

  • Comment number 82.

    Band VAT. We already have 0 on food etc, 5% on fuel and 17.5% on everything else. Put i a 25% on real luxury goods - there is a difference between a £5,000 car an a £50,000 car, a £30 pair of shoes and a £300 pair, a £5 handbag and a £5,000 one! Make those that can afford to buy real luxuries pay a bit mre VAT - that is what is was originally designed for, and the rich pay proportionally less tax than the poor. A general hike in VAT will cause real hardship.

  • Comment number 83.

    The axe should fall on Parliament first, to set an example. Reduce salaries of ministers and MP's to the national minimum wage rate as clearly anybody and everybody should be able to survive on that. Get the Salvation Army to open another hostel close to Westminster Palace (assuming MP's cannot or will not walk to Vauxhall) and charge MP's £15 per bed per night to stay there.

    To ensure that all parliamentary facilities are used efficiently declare it open house to the public - the "smoking" bars will do a rattling trade as will the canteens thus producing income too.

    Give banks ninety days notice that they must pay their debts back or they'll be turned into job centres and community facilities. Redevelop the City of London as a massive affordable housing complex.

    After that a few people may get the message....

  • Comment number 84.

    If we stopped taxing businesses out of business we would be in better shape. There is no revenue in goods made abroad and sold on from there, what we get here is taxes on top of taxes. Over the next 5 years the revenue from manufacturing will be reduced dramatically as businesses move abroad. What we will have left is services and banks, both a drain on resources.

  • Comment number 85.

    Since VAT is very likely to be changed sometime this year, I would revamp it along the lines of:

    Childrens Clothing: Leave at 0%
    Footwear: Leave at 0%
    Food: Leave at 0%
    Books: increase from 0% to 10%
    Newspapers: increase from 0% to 10%
    Electric/Gas: Reduce from 5% to 0%
    Alcohol: 25% VAT
    Building Construction: increase from 0% to 5%
    Gold: Standard VAT to apply increase from 0% to 15-35% (as below)
    Carvans & Houseboats: Standard VAT to apply increase from 0% to 15-35% (as below)
    Current Standard 17.5% amend as follows:
    Up to £50 reduce from 17.5% to 15%
    Between £50 and £99.99 keep at 17.5%
    Between £100 and £499.99 increase to 20%
    Between £500 and £2499.99 increase to 25%
    Between £2500 and £9999.99 increase to 30%
    Above £10K increase to 35%

    This should be fairer in redistibuting VAT extraction, since low paid households will have a reduced burden. Those who can afford to pay for expensive items will be able to afford for the increased VAT.

    Modern shop tills can easily cope with such changes.

  • Comment number 86.

    We might try cutting the BBC budget by reducing the licence fee to try to convince them that spending most of their time trying to promote a failure of the coalition is not in the national interest.

    On a more serious note until we know the state of the debt we cannot in all honesty appreciate what needs to be done.

    I concur that waste must be stamped out and in a way that is effective, not meaningless. Overpaid, unnecessary staff in the public sector will have to bear some of the brunt. This will be the payback for the time you were getting easy money out of the last government.

    I see no problems with applying similar efficiency savings in the health service providing it leads to better services and not cuts in the main functions. I don't believe that we can afford a sacred cow that bleeds us dry by emotion rather than purpose.

    The armed forces will need to have proper resources to execute their role in Afghanistan so some cuts elsewhere in the budget might also be essential. Again, no sacred cows.

    The police can be allowed to get back on the beat and into the community without needing to worry about form filling. Some administrative posts might have to go.

    It is all coming back to haunt us. The last government were a failure. Let us at least hope the new one will prove to be more adept at first getting the recovery on track and subsequently making life better for us all. No gain without pain.

  • Comment number 87.

    "1. At 11:58am on 17 May 2010, 4Flem wrote:
    If the govt got back the £60bn it lent to the banks, the budget deficit would be almost halved in one fell swoop. Let's concentrate on getting that money back rather than squeezing the taxpayers for even more, or cutting public services."

    Unfortunately that £60bn would be for just one year.
    They have to find that level of savings EVERY YEAR from next year.
    The banks were only the smaller part of the problem.
    The bigger problem is how to correct the structural deficit caused by a decade of overspending since c.2000.

  • Comment number 88.

    Can save money by simply STOPPING the stupid wasteful changing of Department names, which instantly adds £100,000 to £500,000+ more cost.

    Put VAT on super cars up from 17.5% to 25%.

    Put a 25% levy on banks based upon their 2009/2010 bonus payments, this in itself would raise around £15 billion a year and still leave banks with 75% of bonuses. Over a 5 year term of government this would raise £75billion and would literally cover the TOTAL cost of next 5 years cuts and tax rises.

    Even so, I would still cut expenditure by a further £25 billion over 5 years, which is basically £1billion less a year than the Torys proposed £6billion this year, which the saved £5billion each year over 5 years = £25billion. Though I would still NOT cut the £5billion this year.

    I think the banks and other financial gambling institutions should pay the BIGGEST amounts, because it was their negligence which got us into this mess. As public citizens we may have had cheap credit etc, but it was the responsibility of the markets to provide it within peoples means.

    Basically the free market has opperated like criminals. They have manufactured complicated gambling structures to confuse regulators.

    I think the main thing that should be done is a straight forward restriction so that the free market cannot just invent some other practice and operate in the same negligent criminal manner that they have previously managed.

    Also I would just totally ban short selling. It serves NO economic purpose except to undemine prices for quick profits for a few rich individuals. If these criminals want to gamble then they can do the lottery of bet on some gee gees.

  • Comment number 89.

    We should scrap a lot of security measures. It's just plain dumb to 'build walls' to protect us from the outside world whilst the budget deficit degrades us from the inside out. We'll still be standing to attention holding big guns on a pile of rubble if we're not careful!

    Not only does that include ID cards, but also biometric passports, trident, genetic databasing, any excessive use of CCTV, speed cameras, a good chunk of military spending, spending in Iraq/Afghanistan (billions has been spent over nearly a decade without any actual proof that it's making us safer), excessive prison security and some immigration controls (immigrants are actually making us richer according to one London college study). These savings alone would save us tens of billions of pounds. These are the kind of savings we need to tackle our £167 billion deficit and to protect our unsteady economy. Most of the savings proposed by our politicians over recent weeks have been about saving millions or tens of millions. The above should be treated very much as luxuries to be purchased in boom times.

    We also need to immediately stop all PFI schemes. In terms of things like hospital building, this is particularly inefficient and in the end could cost us five times more than the original price. If we can't afford it, we simply have to do without instead of buying 'on credit card'. We need to start recouping the cash from our investment in the banks. If the government has done this correctly, we should be able to turn a good profit on our investment as we effectively bought in at their lowest point. Aside from this we need to cut management in public services. We also need to make purchasing much more efficient. For example NHS order books were recently broken up into trusts which meant the tax payer is paying higher prices for drugs etc and getting lower quality products. All order books should be re-joined and contracts lengthened (with appropriate get out clauses for failing service) forcing private companies to compete much harder for state contracts.

  • Comment number 90.

    Alternative to HUGE cuts. Smaller cuts and grow the economy by reducing diktats and politically motivated taxes.

  • Comment number 91.

    So the Tories along with the LibDems are still going to cut £6BN from the economy starting from late June 2010. As much as I personally hate civil servants who either do made up jobs or believe they are the bees knees and throw their weight about I still uphold their right to not be treated as so much fodder job wise. Once they have lost their jobs most will find it hard to get other work.The people who manage and those that manage the managers and so on should be the targets of cuts. However the most powerful way to cut the debt is to apply VAT to food-unpopular of course but for every 1% VAT applied it raises £3-4BN in revenue.Putting it on fuel is insane as that only destroys jobs.A mere 5% of food with the poorest protected would raise nearly £20bn in one year-well on the way to reducing the debt.

  • Comment number 92.

    'Office for Budget Responsibility'? Is it just me, or is there something ironic about setting up a quango in order to look at reducing the costs of quangos?

  • Comment number 93.

    I thought the banks owed the Government lots of money? And do they pay interest on top of it too? Our gas bills, tv license etc. have gone way-up; some people seem to be doing rather well?

  • Comment number 94.

    1)Make all health tourists pay up front for treatment it's a known fact it's difficult to get payment afterwards.2)Stop giving single mothers a council flat they should be responsible for their own children .3)Child benefit only for the first three children(watch the population numbers drop)4)No more benefits for the work shy especially the people who have never paid into the system.5)No housing or benefits for newly arrived immigrants6)Bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Irag.

  • Comment number 95.

    Where should the axe fall?

    So, George is a crazy mad axeman. Maybe there should be some people in white jackets standing by his side armed with a restraining jacket.

  • Comment number 96.

    "Every new Government tries blaming the last one. This just shows the old politics is alive and well with the Lib-Con coalition.

    Former chancellor Alistair Darling"

    Sore loser is he?

    If he had any competance, he wouldn't have buried his head in the sand and LABOUR would have started cutting spending about 4 years ago - but they didn't - they kept on fiddling the figures!

    National Debt had been on a steady increase since about 2005 and he knows it. The Banking crisis simply brought it into focus.

    A nation, with the GDP of the UK, should live within its means, paying off debt year on year - not the opposite.

    If we borrow £160 this year and £140 billion next that's £300 billion in 2 years.

    Interest in £300 billion (at approx 1.5%) is £4.5 billion - and that's only the interest! What about capital payments?

    Alistair Darling must take us all for fools if he thinks he and his illustrious Government didn't play a large part in our financial downfall!

  • Comment number 97.

    The principal reason for the UK's "structural" deficit is war spending. The Tories will make deep cuts to public spending and raise VAT, hitting the poorest people hardest, yet this will not reduce the deficit because they will increase war spending. In fact, after all the measures they take, I predict the deficit will rise further.

  • Comment number 98.

    The city caused this, so isn’t it logical to make the city pay for this? They are quite clearly the first ones to recover with all sorts of bonuses and deals. I am appalled when people want to cut the public sector to fill empty government coffers, if we fired everyone it would still not make a significant dent in this debt. The system is fine its the bankers that need to feel the heat. MP's of all parties have been far to forgiving of them. In the states these sleazy companies are even lending the U.S. government money, (for a price of course), that the government is using to then lend to these companies. Its all complete madness! While I scrape to get by to save their jobs these city slickers are lining their own pockets!

  • Comment number 99.

    18. At 12:18pm on 17 May 2010, James wrote:
    Where should the axe fall to tackle Gordon Brown's budget deficit legacy?

    1) Immediate withdrawal from the EU, 2) Immediate withdrawal of our troops from the illegal wars in which we are involved,
    I didn't think we were involved in any illegal wars any more. We are no longer in Iraq on a war footing and the Afghanistan war is, when I last looked legal. Withdrawal from the EU, however attractive is not a serious option and there is no huge groundswell for it. Getting more out of it might be a way forward now that we are broke and therefore should not be one of the paymasters.

  • Comment number 100.

    As well as all the other good suggestions put forward for cutting bureaucracy, unncessary pen pushers, top heavy management, quangos, five a day officers, 'in bloom' departments, healthy walks departments etc - how about a drastic cull of the House of Lords. 736 members is waaay too many ..all those expenses, overnight accommodation costs etc. I expect we pay for all those fancy robes as well. And there are even more on the way, including Prescott, Ruth Kelly and Des Browne (who?) I was horrified to read in my paper this morning. Unbelievable.

    Do we really need more than about 200 in the 2nd chamber? They should all be working 'peers' with relevant expertise and experience, who should step down after about 5 years to be replaced by a fresh lot of experts.

    I never thought I would advocate the abolition of the HoL to be replaced by a much smaller elected chamber but the more dross I see going in there the more it seems like the only way forward.


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