George Osborne: Seven departments agree new cuts


George Osborne: "Everyone that sits around the cabinet table shares the same goal"

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George Osborne has reached agreement with seven Whitehall departments on savings he wants made in 2015.

The chancellor said he had found 20% of the £11.5bn he wants to cut spending by in the year from April 2015.

Justice, energy and communities are among the departments agreeing to "significant savings", he said, adding that health, schools and foreign aid would be protected from cuts.

Labour says the government is sticking to policies "that are badly failing".

Mr Osborne told the BBC that no chancellor had got so far in agreeing so many plans so far ahead of a spending review, which is due towards the end of next month.

The spending period in question covers the month before the expected date of the next general election, scheduled for May 2015, and the year after.

The departments that have agreed cuts of between 8% and 10% are: the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Northern Ireland Office.

'On track'

Mr Osborne said the scale of the savings expected was "difficult" but necessary to reduce government borrowing and to ensure money could be found to spend on the "nation's priorities", such as the health service.


  • Ministry of Justice
  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Department for Energy and Climate Change
  • HM Treasury
  • Cabinet Office
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Northern Ireland Office

"The fact we have got big departments like the Ministry of Justice signed up to 10% reductions shows we are on track and there is a cabinet will behind delivering these necessary savings," Mr Osborne told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Negotiations over savings are continuing with other big departments, such as the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office.

He insisted they would not do anything to put at risk people's safety "at home or abroad", adding that the counter-terrorism budget was among those areas likely to be ring-fenced.

The full financial details will be held back until the spending review is presented to Parliament next month.

But it is understood that, taken together, the savings agreed so far in talks with departments and in previous announcements mean the Treasury still has to find £8bn-£9bn of the £11.5bn to be saved.

Given that health, schools and foreign aid budgets continue to be protected, this means that remaining departments, such as transport, defence, business and the Home Office, are likely to have to make 8% cuts.

There have been reports that some ministers, such as Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, are unhappy about this but Mr Osborne said all his colleagues accepted the need for further savings, and he was "confident" they could be achieved.


Business Secretary Vince Cable: "There are no short cuts here"

Mr Osborne rejected suggestions the cuts would undermine frontline services in areas such as criminal justice, saying major changes were also under way to make the courts and probation services more efficient.

The government, he added, was "trying to improve the quality and productivity of public services while making sure we are not wasting money" and Whitehall "could not be let off the hook" in the push for more efficient government.

He also suggested that there would be no further cuts in welfare in the year in question on top of the "substantial" ones already announced. He also rejected the suggestion of tax increases.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said that Liberal Democrat members of the coalition government had "made it very clear... simply taking more off people at the bottom end of the scale is not the way to proceed".

He told the BBC he had had "very amicable" discussions with Treasury colleagues and would be making the case "that we need to invest more in training and science and innovation and business support if we are going to get the economy going".

Shadow treasury minister Chris Leslie: "The deficit reduction plan has completely stalled"

The government has already announced billions of pounds in cuts for the 2010-15 period, but Labour says its austerity drive has stunted growth and the deficit is rising again.

Chris Leslie, shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, said David Cameron and Mr Osborne's plan was meant to "balance the books by the next election, but their failure on growth and jobs means the deficit is now set to be over £90 billion in 2015".

He said: "That's why the chancellor is now asking for even more spending cuts, with most big departments yet to reach agreement.

"George Osborne should be asking himself what's gone wrong and taking action to get the economy growing strongly between now and 2015. Sadly, he seems set to spend the next two years sticking to policies that are badly failing on living standards, growth and even deficit reduction."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    How can these people suggest all these cuts when only last week they publish that MPs are in line with big pay rises, some being paid 3 times the national average salary of 26k...
    Another pay freeze for MPs would help the deficit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    It's Impossible to defend the EU they don't have a leg to stand on these people are criminals and should be dealt with accordingly. The public should be taking action they should be outraged maybe the cut's don't effect them!! The reality is they effect us all! The are billions sent to the EU it's a fraud!! Great Britain take action!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    And so the Tories march towards Libertarianism marches on, fooling the sheeple by waving a banner with 'Austerity' written on it while the cash flows to tax havens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Close tax loops. Cut foreign aid to countries richer than us (Does India with their space plans need aid?). Cull pointless middle managers and bureaucrats. Stop getting in consultants to solve problems with obvious answers by asking people who work there.

    These are just a few thought over my morning coffee Mr Chancellor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Ironic that the other HYS comment relates to arming Syrian Rebels yet in the same day we can make sweeping cuts in the public sector.

    To adapt the words of Tony Benn, if we can find money to kill people, surely we can find money to help people!

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    It is time to stop all the ringfencing. Cuts are inevitable. Continuing to borrow £120 billion a year is the way to a real disaster.

    There is no easy way out and its time we faced up to it.

    The real debate we are not having is the size of the public sector and welfare state we can afford, and its much less than we think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Britain is fast approaching third world status but successive governments still haven't got the nerve to cut back on Foreign Aid, much of which is a complete waste of taxpayers money. Clamp down on tax avoiders, corporate and private, and stop the Commons/Lords expenses gravy train. Politicians only care about the wishes of the electorate when challengers like UKIP give them a fright.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Why allow foreign aid to be protected from cuts? Treat our poor badly but let foreign govt. be unfazed by global failures. This is fundamentally wrong in times like these. But this failed govt. is destroying our poor and not attacking the rich and business. It is time for CHANGE NOW!

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Will these cuts lead to an increase in crime rates? How much will dealing with such crime cost us? Will short term cuts targets cost more in the long term?

    Cuts are necessary but they need to be the right cuts, not simply based on short term targets but based on long term benefits to society that will not escalate socioeconomic issues and create further divisions/tensions/hostility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Wonderful another HYS where the lefties complain of savage cuts. The extra £11.5 b amounts to an actual cut in govt spending of about 1.5% of total except of course that there will be no cut it will be spent on infrastructure.

    In real terms all govt "savage" cuts are less than 0.8% of govt spending per year. That is not savage but an accounting error

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Time to send in the "Clowns" & get rid of these comedians, they have destroyed the NHS, Education, Police all of which have no confidence in this shambles of a government.

  • Comment number 155.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Lots of calls to tax companies that sell into the UK. What about UK companies that export? Our exports are worth billions and the UK taxes those profits Are people really saying they want to lose that tax income?

    Or have people not really thought about it properly?

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Sure, let's reduce the deficit but, it's how Osborne is trying to do it that is damaging the economic recovery. Tax breaks for millionaires and reducing corporation tax for those corporations which actually pay it is an insult to those on 4 year wage freezes/cuts. Add cuts in welfare spending to this situation and you end up with an economic catastrophe. Ordinary working families are going under!

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    They can cut the Justice Department as long as they keep the legal aid going for Abu Qatada and his followers. Good Justice is expensive and takes time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Nothing but political posturing.

    The REAL problem is the housing boom he is desperately trying to engineer in the hope that it will secure a victory for his fellow rogues and ne'er-do-wells.

    IF he succeeds he will destroy the economy for another generation, all pension funds and all incentive to save - which stores up gigantic problems for the economy and will lead to a tremendous crash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    The Chancellor aims for £11.5bn cuts in services etc but can shovel £80bn Funding for Lending money into the banks that caused much of this trouble in the first place.

    That's on top of all the invented QE funny-money that they've benefited from.

    The rest of us are in the wrong business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    In my opinion there is no point in even acknowledging that Osbourne has said anything at all.

    He and ALL the other useless parasites at Westminster don't listen to the people anymore so why should we listen to them?

    "Red Ping or Blue Pong" elected dictatorships in power it makes no difference - they have mismanaged this country for generations.

    Time for a major change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Justice and communities are two completely foreign concepts to this bunch of prejudiced eton toffs, I'm surprised they haven't been completely cancelled rather than just being cut.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    If you could get just a small percentage of all the tax that is avoided back there would be no need for cuts at all. But making the rich (individuals and corporations) pay even a tiny proportion of their fair shar is out of the question. We'll cut some services, I'm sure nurses can work 27 hours a day, and grandma can wash herself. Save the rich!


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