Spending Review: Voters react

Our panellists

Voters from across the UK reflect on how the biggest spending cuts in Britain since the 1970s may affect them and the country in general.

Maria Edoo - Worried about cuts to child tax credits

Maria Edoo with daughter
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Hayes, Middlesex
  • Occupation: Airline worker
  • Lives with: Husband and three children
  • Family income: £40k-45k

The review wasn't as bad as I had feared.

It's good they are keeping some universal benefits like the winter fuel allowance. It's fair that people in social housing will pay more in rent.

I'm a bit confused about changes to the benefits system and tax credits.

We will keep our child benefits as neither my husband nor I are higher-rate tax payers. But I think a lot of people will find this change unfair.

I'm not sure what will happen to our child tax credit. The chancellor said it would go up slightly but it has already been announced that families with combined income of more than £40,000 would see a cut in the credit.

I think the government should think more carefully about the money they give to families. It's not just about how much you earn. A combined income of £40,000 is not much when you have high bills to pay and three children.

I'm glad they are trying to deal with the welfare bill. But they need to do more to get unemployed people back into work.

There are too many people out of work because they don't want to work or won't accept a job they think is beneath them. There are jobs out there but people do not want to do them.

Tom Gaughan - Glad the government is tackling waste

Tom Gaughan with daughter and son
  • Age: 45
  • Location: Burnley, Lancashire
  • Occupation: Print production director
  • Lives with: Wife and two children
  • Family income: Over £50k

I'm not against what's been announced.

I've got one child at university and one who is 13. We'll lose child benefit as I'm a higher-rate tax payer. But I think we can afford it, and if it helps other people who are less well-off, then so be it.

I like what the government says about protecting NHS spending and cutting waste.

I'm not happy with cuts to the armed services and the police. Let's hope they can protect services with back-office savings.

I absolutely agree the principle that no-one in benefits should be worse-off than someone in work.

Here in Burnley there are households with three generations who have never worked. Many seem comfortable with this, and this has to change.

Changes to university funding will probably affect my daughter and will definitely affect my son. We've got to be careful not to cripple young graduates with too much debt. My daughter is resigned to leaving university with debts of £20k-30k.

It's a bitter pill, but I think we just have to take it. Education is still cheap compared to, say, the US.

As for retirement age - I would like to retire at 55, but that's not going to happen! It's a shame that it will go up, but maybe if people save privately they'll still be able to retire earlier.

We'll have to see how things turn out, but the country hasn't got the money to do anything else other than cut.

Neil Younger - Concerned about changes to public sector pensions

Neil Younger
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Middlesbrough
  • Occupation: Paramedic
  • Single
  • Income: £20k-25k

My biggest concern is the extra money I'll end up paying into my pension as a public sector worker. Along with the pay freeze I'll get, that means a double hit on my earnings.

I like the fact the NHS budget is being protected. But I still think we're going to face challenging times as the health service is close to being under-funded anyway.

I think the government could have targeted the banks for more tax. The rich financiers who are responsible for the downturn are still receiving big bonuses while the average person has to bear the burden of the cuts.

It is right that higher earners should lose their child benefits. That's progressive. And I like the fact that pensioners' benefits are being maintained. But shouldn't we also means-test the free bus passes and winter fuel payments for the richest?

The principle that it should pay better to be in work than to be on benefits is correct. But I am concerned that as in any reform those who genuinely need the money may lose out when they reform the system.

I feel sorry for those 500,000 public sector workers who will lose their jobs. And I don't see how new jobs are suddenly going to be created for them.

I'll have to wait until the details come out - especially the cuts to local council funding - before I really know how the changes will affect me.

Simon Rutherford - Concerned about changes to benefits

Simon Rutherford
  • Age: 50
  • Location: Plwmp, Ceredigion
  • Occupation: Retired
  • Lives with: Wife, daughter and granddaughter
  • Income: Pension and DLA

What I heard from George Osborne was OK, but I think there is more bad news to come.

I was listening out for changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but the chancellor barely mentioned it. This concerns me because I think there may be negative changes round the corner.

My wife and I are disabled. I am in constant pain and fought hard to get DLA.

I have been re-assessed two or three times. When these assessments are done they always seem to target those who actually need the benefits.

I'm worried the government will repeat past mistakes. I hope they can tell the difference between the genuine cases and the benefit cheats.

The banks should take more of the pain. If they leave the country, then that's good - as a country we can go back to making things.

I was surprised by the announcement on foreign aid. If we can't pay for ourselves we shouldn't be paying for others.

I'm not happy with changes to child benefit. My son is a higher-rate tax payer and will lose his. He has one three-year-old and twins on the way. He is simply getting punished for working hard and paying his way.

I disagree with keeping the universal benefits for pensioners. I used to live in Poole and there were plenty of pensioners there who had substantial means. The government is taking money from families at the bottom, but not from pensioners at the top.

The impact of the cuts on Wales will be devastating. There aren't enough jobs here and those that do exist are in the public sector.

Martin Steers - Recent graduate

Martin Steers
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Cambridge
  • Occupation: Working for a student body
  • Lives with: Girlfriend
  • Income: £14k-18k

I agree with most of what the government is doing and agree that cuts have to be made.

Cuts in higher education are worrying though. Students will end up paying a lot more money and will not get a better service.

I currently have a contract with the Cambridge Union Society, a student body. I think changes to higher education will have a knock-on effect on organisations like ours, as students choose to spend less money.

We recently advertised for more staff, and received hundreds of applications - many from people over-qualified for the role. So this makes me feel grateful for the job I have.

The government could have done more to means-test benefits. The cuts to child benefits for higher-rate taxpayers make sense. But why should pensioners keep winter fuel payments if they have a decent income?

I don't agree with the way they have made changes to the BBC. I'm not sure why licence fee payers should fund the World Service, as they're unlikely to hear many World Service programmes.

I question some budget decisions. At a time of austerity, do we need to increase the overseas aid budget? Do we need to spend so much on defence?

But overall, I'm confident we are making the right decisions and the economy will grow in the future.

Alan Pierre - Actively looking for work

Alan Pierre
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Sandbach, Cheshire
  • Occupation: Unemployed
  • Lives with: Wife
  • Income: Jobseekers' Allowance

The changes seems relatively fair, but the devil is in the detail.

George Osborne seems to have protected the poorest and the elderly. He's not going to take too much away from pensioners, which is a good thing.

I was glad to see a levy on banks. When I talk to people in the pub, that's the thing that people mention. The banks got away with it. They took us into this mess and still ended up with vast profits and bonuses.

I was interested that he mentioned schemes to get people back to work. But again, it is all about the detail. I haven't had good experiences with the job centre. They don't seem to be able to help people like me with a lot of experience.

It is a really good idea to try to make work pay more than being on benefits. People I talk to say it is hardly worth taking up a job when they may lose all their benefits. These changes could also help me but I don't know how quickly they are going to happen.

I'm not sure about the balance between cutting civil service jobs and new jobs from the private sector. I think there could be more unemployment in the future.

But overall, the apprehension I had before has been alleviated slightly.

Jean Girling - 'I hope this means a return to sensible politics'

Jean Girling
  • Age: 75
  • Location: Truro, Cornwall
  • Occupation: Pensioner
  • Lives with: Husband
  • Family income: Pension and savings

George Osborne did very well. He was reasonably fair with the cuts he set out.

I am glad to see him tackling waste. As someone who has been in business, I know you simply cannot employ more people than you can afford.

I don't like to see people being made unemployed, but there are many civil servants who should not have been hired in the first place.

The government is no different from an ordinary person. Individuals can take out loans to cover the cost of a home or car, but they shouldn't run up debt on clothes or drink. The previous administration got us into debt by spending too much on jackets.

The coalition hasn't taken anything away from pensioners such as the winter fuel payments and free bus passes, which is a good.

Linking pensions to the consumer price index, instead of the retail price index, may mean our pensions increase by less in the future. But I am resigned to these changes given the state we're in.

They have not touched the NHS budgets, which is good for an elderly person like me who does not have the best health.

I have a lot of grandchildren so I am happy that they are protecting the schools budget. Regarding university education, I don't think we ever should have had 50% of pupils going to university. So changes to university funding seem fair.

I hope these announcements mean we are seeing a return to sensible politics.

More on This Story

The Spending Review: Making It Clear

More Spending review stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • UnderwaterHidden depths

    How do you explore the bottom of the ocean? BBC Future finds out

Programmes

  • The challenge is to drop a bottle of water within 100 metres of this dummyClick Watch

    The race to get water – transported by drone – to a man stuck in remote Australia

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.