Nick Clegg – Stand by for more cuts

Nick Clegg at the Lib Dem conference Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat conference

If you thought the cuts were bad, stand by for more bad news - £16bn of cuts to be precise.

The Treasury Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander, has just declared at the Lib Dem conference that the government will soon have to set out "specific plans for the £16bn of savings that are needed" in 2015 - after, that is, the current spending round ends.

What the Liberal Democrats have been doing this week is setting out their negotiating position with the Tories for the next spending round - their red lines if you like on "who pays".

What they wanted voters to hear is that they will veto Tory proposals for a benefit freeze and cuts of £10bn to the welfare budget. However, listen hard and you'll hear that they are not ruling out ending the link between benefit rises and inflation or other cuts in the benefit bill.

This is what Danny Alexander said: "At £220bn, welfare is one third of all public spending - and despite our painful reforms it is still rising. We will have to look at it."

His message to the Tories is that they'll only discuss this if they get agreement to higher taxes on the wealthy. Nick Clegg now clearly regrets suggesting that that's the top 10% of the population - in other words people earning over around £50,000 a year.

He may also regret hinting on BBC Radio 4's World at One that he would re-examine benefits which go to even the richest pensioners such as Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence.

No wonder he talked at the beginning of this Conference about "scars ahead".

PS: The £16bn figure is not, it turns out, entirely new since it was implied in last year's Autumn Statement when the chancellor announced that cuts would have to go on beyond the next election. However, it came as a surprise to me.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 326.


    Thats hardly surprising though is it? Where the voters are so dense that light bends around them, they're bound to blame the tories arent they, compared to when your Iron Chancellor doubled income tax on their poorest overnight. Lambs to the slaughter, arent they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    322 I asked if you had independent sources. I have pointed you to one - the UCL (University of London) study which suggests a very small net benefit accruing. University income from overseas students (large chunk of migration) similar. However if you suggest others do so - pointing me at an e-petition statement from an anti immigration pressure group is not independent nor is it research.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    on 317
    The Germans have reached a point (on more than one occasion, I think) where they have had to limit migration during the last 40 years or so. If a country that size & with that successful an economy has to say to potential guestworkers: "Sorry - not now." then is it not more likely that we might put up the 'House Full' signs every now & then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    Just as health service professionals warn that the NHS is close to breaking point owing to increased levels of demand.

    Still time to sign the e-petition as proposed by Migration Watch - who do some very good work but significantly under-estimate the different cost categories and full adverse effects of of UK immigration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    316.Whistling Neil
    You're obviously pro mass UK immigration & if you disagree with my analysis you have every opportunity to provide your own analysis of why you seem to be saying that the benefits of mass UK immigration outweigh 'the costs'.

    Migration watch e-petition says it all - taking UK population to 70 million will require SEVEN cities the size of Birmingham to be built.

    Silence ...


Comments 5 of 326


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