Let us suppose that someone’s spending over recent years was as follows:
Date of spend Total Total day to day spending
2009-10 (last Labour year) £6693 £6009
2010-11 £6944 £ 6328
2011-12 £6936 £6438
2012-13 £6737 £6572
2013-14 £7200 £6679
2014-15 £7371 £6717
I don’t think anyone would say that person had experienced “colossal cuts” . Some would write in and say this person had done better than they had, as their day to day spending had gone up each year. Others would point out that inflation meant not much of a real increase, though in practice it is a small real increase in day to day to spending. A fair commentator would conclude that the person had done all right considering the overall background, where others had suffered actual falls in income and spending. It had been tight but was not a case of a massive cuts.
If you multiply that person’s spending by 100 million you have the government figures for its total spending (including capital) and its total current spending. So why when we have the big figures for the government do some go on about massive cuts?
Some say in real terms it was a cut. The OBR now tell us not even that is true. Now they say it is a cut as a percentage of GDP. Yes, that’s true, because GDP is going up faster than public spending. However, that does not make it an actual overall cut. Today the government is delivering more school places, more doctors appointments, more operations in hospitals, more subsidised rail services and more success in controlling crime than five years ago.
If we are to have a sensible debate about public spending we first need to start with an honest factual base of what has been spent and what planned spending looks like. Over the next five years on current plans public spending rises by a further £42bn a year. That’s tight, but it only becomes a real cut if public sector costs escalate and if the public sector is unable to deliver say 2% per annum productivity and efficiency gains which are the bare minimum in much of the private sector.
The biggest lie of all is the one which says we are going back to 1930s levels of spending by 2010. This country is many times richer now than in the 1930s, so we will be spending many times the real level of the 1930s by 2010.