Nick Clegg – Stand by for more cuts

Nick Clegg at the Lib Dem conference Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat conference

If you thought the cuts were bad, stand by for more bad news - £16bn of cuts to be precise.

The Treasury Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander, has just declared at the Lib Dem conference that the government will soon have to set out "specific plans for the £16bn of savings that are needed" in 2015 - after, that is, the current spending round ends.

What the Liberal Democrats have been doing this week is setting out their negotiating position with the Tories for the next spending round - their red lines if you like on "who pays".

What they wanted voters to hear is that they will veto Tory proposals for a benefit freeze and cuts of £10bn to the welfare budget. However, listen hard and you'll hear that they are not ruling out ending the link between benefit rises and inflation or other cuts in the benefit bill.

This is what Danny Alexander said: "At £220bn, welfare is one third of all public spending - and despite our painful reforms it is still rising. We will have to look at it."

His message to the Tories is that they'll only discuss this if they get agreement to higher taxes on the wealthy. Nick Clegg now clearly regrets suggesting that that's the top 10% of the population - in other words people earning over around £50,000 a year.

He may also regret hinting on BBC Radio 4's World at One that he would re-examine benefits which go to even the richest pensioners such as Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence.

No wonder he talked at the beginning of this Conference about "scars ahead".

PS: The £16bn figure is not, it turns out, entirely new since it was implied in last year's Autumn Statement when the chancellor announced that cuts would have to go on beyond the next election. However, it came as a surprise to me.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Coalition 'plans' for beyond 2015 are best ignored.

    They won't be around to enact them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Cuts cause decline .... decline causes more cuts ... more cuts causes more decline ....

    Anyone see a problem in the tories being trapped in this dogma?

    Fortunately there is a solution.

    Get rid of the tories in 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    There is over £750 billion in corporate reserves. The big companies and individuals are richer than ever.... but that is not causes them to invest or not....and they are not investing.

    By making the vast majority worse off and taking services away from them, we reduce demand... If people haven't got money they can't spend it.

    Put a Levy on the corporate reserves and put it to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    £16bn doesn't seem such a large amount when you consider the Bank of England has printed £375bn in QE. Who is going to pay that back?

    The LibDems went wrong when they decided to prop up this lame bunch of Tories. They must have known their voters prefer them to be in perpetual opposition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    @ichabod 10
    If you're fortunate enough to be in the 40% tax bracket you probably haven't noticed the cuts. But working for a local authority funded charity providing social care I can tell you that the service (and the hard working, dedicated people that provide it and are having they're wages cut to minimum wage) is certainly feeling it.


Comments 5 of 326



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