Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Don't cut too soon

Respected independent research institutes such as the National Institute for Economic and Social Studies and the Institute for Fiscal Policy are now calling for public expenditure cuts to be deferred: Cuts For the IFS Green Budget go here: IFS

This is posing a bit of a dilemma for Dave Cameron. Feedback from the doorsteps was already suggesting that the austerity message was not going down too well. However, restraining cuts has not gone down too well with party activists, many of whom are well to the right of Dave. He also has to soften his tone without seeming to wobble.

One suspects that once again the electorate wants to have its cake and eat it. They accept the idea of cuts in hypothetical terms, but resist most specific cuts. For example, there has been a big row in Warwickshire about effectively ending the county's musical education service. It will save less than one million pounds, illustrating the rule that small programmes tend to cut first and harder. Personally, I think that music has a great deal to offer as part of an educational programme, but it does show how difficult it is in practice to cut anything.

Philip Stephens had an excellent essay on this in the Pink 'Un the other day which is well worth reading: Stephens