Cut after cut will become the norm

Ronnie Campbell

Ronnie Campbell

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Get ready for another Tory trick. Theresa May’s government is preparing yet another round of spending cuts in the name of “austerity”.

This time around the top target will be schools and council budgets.

Schools across the north east stand to lose an average of £339 per primary pupil each year, and £447 per secondary pupil. The worst hit could lose up to £1,000.

Councils will be squeezed on spending on roads, rubbish collection and care services.

And which areas will be hardest hit? The poorest, of course. So much for “caring Conservatism”.

The scale of the cuts – the highest in 30 years – has been exposed by the respected think tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It reckons Mrs May and the Treasury will slash spending by £34bn over the next four years, while upping taxes for the majority. The rich will be untouched.

Despite the pain of recent years, the Institute believes that lower than expected tax receipts will still leave the UK with one of the largest shortfalls in public spending in the developed world.

About £17bn of tax rises were already planned, pushing the tax share of GDP above 37 per cent of national income for the first time since 1986–87.

Ministers are also meant to find further cuts in spending on top of the ten per cent already sliced from service budgets since 2010.

Britain’s ageing population and increasing demands on the NHS could blow an even bigger hole in the government budget over the next two parliaments.

Cut after cut will be the new normal for this Conservative government thanks to its failures on the deficit, high taxes and rising prices. Those on low and middle incomes will be hit hardest.

And the trick? Ministers are increasing the debt so they can justify more austerity.

They should be managing the situation, not sitting back and letting it get worse. Some hope of that.