The coalition cuts begin: £6.2bn savings identified

by Stephen Tall on May 24, 2010

The new coalition government – in the joint personage of Conservative Chancellor George Osborne and Lib Dem Treasury Chief Secretary David Laws – took its first steps today to begin bringing down the huge national deficit, announcing £6.2 billion public spending cuts for 2010-11.

The BBC has a brief summary of the proposals here:

    • £1.15bn in “discretionary” areas such as consultancy and travel costs

    • £95m through savings in IT spending

    • £1.7bn will be saved in delaying or stopping government contracts and projects

    • Reductions in property costs will save £170m

    • More than £120m expected to be found through a freeze in civil service recruitment

    • £600m by cutting the cost of quangos

    • £520m will be saved through other low-value spending

Some spending areas have been ring-fenced from cuts – for example: the overall budgets for the health, international aid and defence departments; schools’ funding, the Sure Start programme and spending on education for 16-19-year-olds.

Cannily, the coalition is recognising the importance of taking the public with them, and there are crowd-pleasers thrown into the cuts primarily for symbolic reasons rather than because they save that much cash – most obviously, that government ministers will no longer have dedicated ministerial cars and will be expected to walk, use public transport or pooled cars where possible.

Most controversy so far has centred on the abolition of the Child Trust Fund – though as its abolition was part of the Lib Dem manifesto the party can hardly be accused of hiding this cut. For an interesting counterview, though, check out The Guardian’s Zoe Williams’ plea to save the Child Trust Fund here (hat-tip Andrew Sparrow).