Money too tight to mention?
Will the Conservatives proposed radical shake-up of the Government’s public spending be enough to change voters minds?
Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin has announced proposals that would radically shake-up public spending if the Conservatives return to power.
He claims that he will be able to save £35 billion over the next six years by cutting bureaucracy and waste. He continued toargue that “by keeping below the general rate of growth in the economy, he anticipated the overall level of public spending to grow.”
Mr Letwin stressed that he would protect increases in spending on key public service areas of the NHS, education, benefits and pensions but would have to impose a two-year freeze on spending levels in other departments. This would be followed by a 2% cap on increaseuntil 2011.
He also said that money would be saved within the civil service byfreezing recruitment which would cut the number of staff by 500,000 to 400,000.
He acknowledged Chancellor Gordon Brown's partial success but believes this has only been achieved through an increase in taxation. “we have well controlled finances but we have had a 50% increase in tax in the last five years of the Labour Government.”
He also continued to say that “he hopes to be able to cut taxes in the early years but cannot be certain”. “It will depend on the amount of money we have to spend addressing any structural deficit we inherit from Chancellor Gordon Brown and of course, on unpredictable cyclical effects.”
In response to Mr Letwin’s comments, the Cabinet Office Minister Douglas Alexander said “It would mean immediate and massive cuts in our public services, and charges in privatisation following in our health services.”
He continued to say that Labour “make no apology for ensuring efficiency in the public service. There is simply not the amount of waste that he (Mr Letwin) claims there is. We already have 50,000 less civil servants than we did when the Conservatives were in power.”
“There is a world of difference between a serious review, the Gershwin review and the kind of arbitrary freezes in civil service numbers and the immediate and real term cuts in departmental budget that Mr Letwin is proposing.”
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