George Osborne paid the price this week for getting things badly wrong in 2010. The initial so-called “Comprehensive” Spending Review when he took office failed to tackle the bloated public sector with sufficient vigour and relied on wildly optimistic growth projections.
The initial ambition of balancing the budget by 2015 has long since been scrapped. The revised target of the middle of the next Parliament looks increasingly optimistic. We may have to wait until this decade is out before the government is able to finally live within its means.
Today, the Chancellor has been reduced to searching for a host of relatively minor savings in order to salvage his deficit reduction strategy. Ominously, £5bn of these savings are to be found through “efficiencies”. Surely, no one doubts that the public sector is littered with gross inefficiencies – but that is not the same as being confident that such inefficiencies can be weeded out through sheer force of will.
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