Treasury chief secretary begins Whitehall cuts talks

21 May 15

New Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands has begun to work with Whitehall departments to agree in-year spending reductions ahead of the post-election Budget on July 8.

In a speech to the CBI last night, George Osborne said work was underway to make in-year savings to reflect any forecast underspending across government.

The chancellor reiterated that the government would ‘complete the task of getting the public finances into surplus – so we bear down on our excessive national debt, and fix the roof when the sun is shining’.

He added: ‘The deficit is less than half what it was, but at just under 5% it is still one of the highest in the developed world.

‘We’ve all learnt there’s no shortcut to dealing with it – so we have to roll up our sleeves and get on with the hard work of identifying the savings, making the reforms and treating public money for what it is – the money that you, the public, has worked hard to earn, and which you’re entitled to expect us to spend well on your behalf.’

The forthcoming Budget would set out a balanced approach to reaching a spending surplus by 2018/19, he said, making savings while maintaining investment in the NHS.
‘We will save money on our welfare bill – ensuring work pays while protecting the most vulnerable.

‘To provide the best start our new chief secretary, Greg Hands, is today asking government departments to identify further savings that can be made in this financial year.

‘We’ve achieved underspends in previous years; we can do so again this year. When it comes to saving money, we all know that the more you can do early, the smoother the ride.’

As well as setting out the recent developments on the government’s Northern Powerhouse plans, Osborne also announced a merger of the Shareholder Executive and UK Financial Investments to improve coordination for the sale of assets including shares in Lloyds Banking Group and completion of the sale of the government’s stake in Eurostar.

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