Public sector workers are understandably concerned about the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). Trade union leaders have recently spoken of strikes and civil disobedience against planned cuts.
Yet such reactions are mostly based on rhetoric rather than reality. The fine print of George Osborne's Emergency Budget reveals that government spending in real terms will remain more or less steady over the next five years. Indeed, when ministers speak of cuts, they often mean a reduction in previously planned increases in expenditure. The Treasury's optimistic forecasts for economic growth are the key to the coalition's deficit reduction programme rather than any dramatic scaling back of public services.