Unhappy New Year: Britain will cut its public spending a lot more


Pour le premier ministre britannique, l’année 2014 ne commence pas sous les meilleurs auspices : largement critiqué à l’extérieur comme  dans son propre pays après  ses propos  sur  l’immigration, voilà que David Cameron doit faire face à un mécontentement généralisé suite à l’annonce de nouvelles coupes budgétaires par le ministre de l’économie.


It was in his new year’s message: reducing Britain’s deficit was for David Cameron one of the main goals for 2014. And yet, neither his opponents in the House of Commons nor his right-wing coalition co-members expected it would unreel the way Chancellor of the Exchequer announced. On January 6th, Georges Osborne actually advocated for a £25-billion public spending cut for the first two years of the next parliament. If this announcement caused, as expected, an outcry in the Labour party, it also scandalized the Liberal Democrats (the Libdems) who are a part of the government coalition. Libdem leader Nick Clegg described the government decision as “a monumental error”.

Actually, cutting the spending deficit means cutting the welfare resources (by £ 12 billion in this case). Although Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron defend their views by saying that “2014 is the year of hard truths” and that tough decisions have to be made, many people regard those cuts are deeply unfair with the poorest. All sectors of Britain’s welfare system will be affected by such draconian measures, to begin with allowances and social benefits: half of the cuts are related to them. Housing benefits are a perfect example: they represent £24 billion (15% of welfare spending), will in all likelihood be attributed to fewer and fewer families, and, in the case of under-25 Britons, simply suppressed.

Even if they argue that putting a cap on the amount a family can get from welfare makes it theoretically possible for the government to invest more in key public sectors (including the health service), the Prime Minister and his chancellor will find it difficult to sweeten the pill of those welfare cuts. The price for Britain’s recovery and victory against the deficit will probably be high for the poorest Britons.



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