Have we had too much austerity?

November 23, 2016 10:57 AM

A Sky News poll has found that 43 per cent of Britons support “ending austerity and increasing spending” with 24 per cent opposed.

After six years of relentless talk from the government about “tough choices”, some weariness is understandable. Unfortunately however, George Osborne’s words were far tougher than his actions.

How much did Osborne actually cut spending?

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Despite a significant fall in investment spending, day-to-day spending was cut by just £1.2 billion between 2010-11 and 2015-16: a mere £200m a year.

For comparison, £200m is the cost of RRS Sir David Attenborough, popularly known as “Boaty McBoatface”. It seems that cutting day-to-day spending by one Boaty McBoatface per annum is too much for some.

The poll also showed a somewhat surprising change in the public mood when it comes to welfare. 46 per cent oppose further welfare cuts while just 33 per cent support them.

But how much did Osborne cut welfare?

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The modest reductions in working age welfare spending have been more than offset by increases in benefits paid to pensions, mostly due to the state pension “triple lock”.

This is not to say that there have not been significant spending cuts in some areas, most notably local government, but with the public finances facing demographic headwinds, now is certainly not the time to row back on the soupçon of austerity we’ve already had. 

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