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Friday, January 31, 2020

Johnson's election promises start to unravel

It was bad enough being lied to about the extra £350m a week for the NHS, a claim which still persists in some quarters despite its deconstruction within days of it first appearing on the side of a bus. However, it now transpires that the many promises of greater investment in public services made by the Tories in last month's General Election may also have been a tad over-egged.

As the Financial Times reports, Boris Johnson has ordered all cabinet ministers to identify cuts of at least 5 per cent to their Whitehall department budgets, telling them to consider axing programmes that do not improve health, fight crime or tackle regional inequalities:

A letter jointly signed by the prime minister and chancellor Sajid Javid tells ministers that budgets remain extremely tight, even after a decade of austerity in public services.

Cabinet ministers have been told to identify possible cuts of at least 5 per cent in their day-to-day current budgets and to name 10 projects that could be scrapped in this autumn’s comprehensive spending review led by the Treasury.

Ministers will have to go through every line of departmental budgets assessing value for money, while programmes that do not relate to the government’s priorities — funding the National Health Service, tackling crime or “levelling up” underperforming regions — should be considered for the chop.

So much for the end to Austerity.
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