Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
7 October 2010

Is Osborne planning to slow the cuts?

Ministers reportedly planning to delay many of the biggest cuts.

By George Eaton

David Cameron and George Osborne may have offered a resolute defence of their spending cuts this week but today it’s emerged that the Treasury is working on plans to “reprofile” the cuts, in other words, delay them.

Today’s FT reports that ministers are considering pushing many of the biggest cuts back until later in this Parliament, ostensibly due to the risk of financial penalties for breaking contracts. But the piece also claims that ministers are finally acknowledging the threat that the cuts pose to the fragile recovery.

With the admirably honest Ken Clarke recently warning (as he first did in June) that the risk of a double-dip recession is real, it’s no surprise that his colleagues are thinking again. Meanwhile the IMF warns in its latest World Economic Outlook that the cuts must be revised if “growth threatens to be substantially lower”. And with Tories from Boris Johnson to Liam Fox rushing to the defence of public investment, the tide is beginning to turn against the hawkish Osborne.

Were the cuts to be delayed, even by a relatively insignificant amount, Labour, and in particular Ed Balls, could claim a significant political victory. Their contention has long been that the cuts are not only unfair (as the IFS has repeatedly demonstrated) but that they are also unnecessary and economically defective. And, once the coalition has conceded that some cuts can be delayed, it becomes that much harder to argue for those that remain.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

But this shouldn’t be mistaken for a significant change of direction from Osborne. His plan to achieve what a New York Times editorial accurately described as a “pointless structural Budget surplus” by the end of this Parliament, remains unchanged. There will still be plenty for the left to march against this autumn.