It's not 'just the economy, stupid'
"Anyone who thinks the spending review is just about saving money is missing the point. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way that government works."
The words of a Treasury official.
Today is about ideology as much as the economy - a process underpinned by a belief that Britain must break free of its "passive dependency" upon the state. As one minister recently put it: the government wants people to stop holding their hands out and start putting their hands to work, to find answers to social problems that are not simply about spending public money.
Necessity will prove to be the mother of invention is the coalition's proverbial hope and already, in many areas of public life, fresh solutions to familiar dilemmas are being worked on.
In welfare, housing, criminal justice - innovative delivery models are being developed to lever in new finance or, in the words of the coalition, get more from less. The private sector, voluntary sector and individuals are being exhorted to fill the vacuum left by a shrinking state. But it is a package for Britain's future negotiated in secret, pitting department against department and only now unveiled with a magician's flourish.
Will it work? It is too early to tell, but it will be painful. Will it be fair? Some will be more vulnerable to a shrinking state than others. The question is how quickly Britain can adapt and whether those unable to change will be protected.