Thursday, July 02, 2009
What Gordon Brown should say on public spending
Posted by David Smith at 03:00 PM
Category: Thoughts and responses

It isn't my job to advise Gordon Brown but his performances in prime minister's question time are becoming a national embarrassment. "Zero per cent growth" indeed. However hard he tries to disguise it, the Treasury's plans for the period 2011 to 2014 imply a real cut in overall public spending and deep cuts (though these are implied rather than explicit) in departmental spending.

This is what I would do: concentrate on the numbers for the whole of the next parliament rather than just the 2011-2014 period. The sequence for total spending in real terms, 2009-10 prices, is courtesy of the Institute for Fiscal Studies: 682 billion in 2009-10, then 702 billion in 2010-11, 700 billion in 2011-12, 701 billion in 2012-13 and 700 billion in 2013-14.

2009-10 is the last full year of this parliament. 2013-14 will probably be the last full year of the next parliament. Comparing the two, Brown could say that the Treasury plans imply a real spending rise albeit a modest one (2.6% over four years) during the next parliament. Or he could carry on making a fool of himself ...