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UK deficit-buster: Choose your cuts
Britain’s next chancellor will oversee the start of the most sustained squeeze on public spending in at least 60 years. Without huge tax rises, government departments will have to cut around £37bn from their budgets by 2013-14. Yet all three main parties refuse to explain how at least £30bn of these savings will be found.
To illustrate the scale of the challenge, the Financial Times has simulated the next three-year spending review, highlighting the type of decisions the next chancellor will face if taxation stays on the same path.
In the game, you can chose to match the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat pledges to protect certain areas of spending. Alternatively you can opt to be a chancellor free of party constraints. To make the exercise simpler, we’ve excluded party proposals to cut spending, showing only the total amount of savings each party must find. It also assumes any proposed tax changes are adequately funded.
This graphic represents an admittedly rough guide to the next spending review. But it does reflect what is broadly being discussed, behind the scenes, in Westminster and Whitehall, and the unpalatability of the choices ahead. It is a debate that has, so far, been strangely absent from the election campaign.