The UK has been officially in recession since 2009. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
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What is austerity?

When the government lowers spending during a recession, it's often called "austerity".

In the simplest terms, austerity is when a government cuts back on spending to try and reduce a budget deficit.

In practice, the term is most frequently used when the government reduces spending, or raises taxes, during a period of recession or weak economic growth.

Other things that might be considered "austerity policies" include government spending which is not increasing as expected, or the re-assignment of funds away from investments (for instance, if funds are re-allocated to pay benefits, rather than being invested in the public sector).

Some definitions are more complicated still. In Keynesian economics, which many commentators still support, "austerity" could mean policies which fail to close a gap between a country's possible GDP and the one it actually achieves (a "negative output gap"). This can happen when the private sector - the part of the economy run by companies and individuals, rather than the state - is doing poorly. This is the situation the UK has been in since 2008/9.

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The NS Podcast #230: It's (New) Party Time

The New Statesman podcast.

Helen is joined by Anoosh to consider whether a new political party would have any chance of success in the UK. Then they discuss the TV shows everyone really likes to watch but doesn't admit to and analyse why the quality of Don't Tell The Bride has declined. Finally, a bumper You Asked Us section including listener questions on social care, punching Nazis, the Tory economic agenda and more.

You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes here or with this RSS feed:, or listen using the player below.


Further reading:

The NS centenary debate from 2013 - did the left win the twentieth century?

Meet the Ivanka Voter by Anne Helen Petersen on Buzzfeed.

Anoosh on the EDL.

Why is Love Island so Tory?

How Don't Tell the Bride lost its spark

Take Me Out and the failures of feminism by Alan White.