UK govt must be more blunt on cuts: minister

The British government needs to be blunter about its public spending plans, Treasury minister Byrne said in an interview published.

UK govt must be more blunt on cuts: minister

The British government needs to be blunter about its public spending plans and will set out further details of cuts in next month's budget, Treasury minister Liam Byrne said in an interview published on Saturday.

Figures on Friday showed the British economy grew faster than previously estimated in the last three months of 2009, the quarter in which it emerged from the longest recession on record, but finance minister Alistair Darling reiterated his warning that support for the economy needed to remain in place.

When to cut public spending has emerged as one of the biggest dividing lines ahead of an election expected in May, with the opposition Conservatives saying the record deficit needs to be brought down quicker than ruling Labour plans.

"We've got to be much blunter about out plans for public spending," Byrne said in an interview with the Times newspaper.

"We've got to find 82 billion pounds ($125 billion) of deficit reduction ... That means stopping doing some things, it means pushing some things to the side and it means a revolution in Whitehall."

Byrne said he had asked cabinet members to sign their departments up for a share of the necessary spending cuts, telling them to come up with plans that go further than the savings already announced in December's pre-budget report.

The details of these savings will be set out in next month's budget, he said.

The government has said some of the deficit will be eliminated by economic growth but Byrne said it also needed to find 20 billion pounds of savings a year by 2012-2013.

"The cuts to Whitehall will be large, and delivering them will be the biggest challenge that this generation of civil servants has had to face," he said.

The Department of Health was likely to lose more than a 10th of its budget, about 10 billion pounds, he said, with hospital building closures a possibility, while the Ministry of Defence needed to reduce its headcount, prioritising resources for troops on the front line.

"No part of Whitehall is exempt from the need to deliver," he said, admitting that he wouldn't rule out scrapping a whole department.

Reuters

Last Mod: 27 Şubat 2010, 11:30
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