We now know the broad shape of the public spending decisions to be unveiled this week. They are:
Health spending – up in cash and real terms
Schools spending – up in cash and probably in real terms
Contributions to the EU – substantially up thanks to loss of part of the rebate
Overseas Aid – up in cash and real terms
Benefits spending – all benefits to be increased in line with inflation
Pensions – to be increased by more under a new system which includes an earnings link
Equitable Life holders – £1.5 billion of compensation not in previous budgets
Debt interest – up substantially, as this government plans to add £450 billion to the public debt over the five years of this Parliament.
Child Benefit – to be removed from people on c. £40,000 a year and above to save £1 billion a year after 2012-13.
This morning the BBC announced that schools spending was likely to go up. You could have read that here on this website, forecast at the beginning of the public spending process. Given the increases in overall cash spending it seemed very likely that Schools would join Health as a priority area for increases.
Instead of seeing it was bound to be given the overall figures, the BBC spent the morning on the Today programme asking what extra would be cut to make room for this surprising generosity. They never once considered that several areas of spending have to go up to use up the increases in total spending that have already been announced!