It is not obvious that the 2015 Spending Review will allow the Government to, in the Chancellor’s words, ‘deliver more with less’, but it is certainly clear that it intends to manage with less. This report considers the changes that the Government must make if it is to keep its policy promises, while also keeping to its commitment to reduce the deficit.
The reductions will take government spending relative to the size of the economy to levels that, in recent times, are below average but not unprecedented. However, the sustained period of cuts – a decade – will be without precedent.
The Prime Minister has spoken of the difficult decisions for unprotected areas of spending. In the last Parliament, ministers were able to reduce spending on programmes inherited from the previous Labour Government that they no longer saw as a priority. In 2015, many of the current secretaries of state were in office before the election and, as a result, have more ownership of their department's programmes. While there are exceptions, this continuity is likely to mean that prioritising will be harder in 2015 than in 2010.