Liam Halligan is in typically robust form as he argues in the Sunday Telegraph that the coalition’s cuts aren’t cuts, and aren’t enough:
"Despite the retrenchment rhetoric, the state borrowed more last month than in September 2009 – or any September ever – despite last January’s VAT rise from 15pc to 17.5pc. This revenue boost was blown away, though, by £2.3bn of debt interest payments last month.
"The 2010 budget deficit will be around 10pc of GDP – much more than when the UK went "cap-in-hand" to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1976. That doesn’t include the multi-billion pound bank bailouts – which the Tories have buried off balance-sheet, like Labour before them."
And as for those £7bn ‘cuts’ in welfare, well, they aren’t cuts:
"The Chancellor claimed that by 2014-15, the UK’s welfare bill will rise by £7bn less than expected. Note, we are talking about a slower rate of increase, not a cut."
The coalition say that their efforts to rein in the budget are ‘unprecedented’. And, true:
"Total Managed Expenditure (TME) – current plus capital spending – is set to peak this year, before falling by 3.3pc a year in real terms by 2014-15. As a proportion of GDP, TME comes down from 47.5pc to 41pc over the next five years."
"This is not unprecedented. On the same measure, TME fell 6.5 percentage points during the retrenchment of the early 1980s and by 5.5 percentage points from 1992-93. These earlier figures are what was actually achieved in terms of spending reductions, rather than government plans on a piece of paper. Remember also, that the fiscal situation we face today is far, far worse than during the early 1980s or early 1990s."