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Spending Review Opinion – Liberal Reform

Commenting on today’s spending review, Alan Muhammed, co-chair of Liberal Reform, a Liberal Democrat internal party pressure group, said:

“The Liberal Democrats cannot achieve their aim of creating a stronger economy and a fairer society without putting the public finances back on a sustainable footing. Reducing the deficit is not an alternative to economic growth, it is a prerequisite to growth that is not built on foundations of ever increasing debt.

“We applaud the commitment of our party’s ministers to bringing the deficit under control while also protecting areas of spending that can make the biggest contribution to creating a liberal society. We are particularly pleased to see the schools budget protected in real terms, allowing schools minister David Laws to go on delivering the pupil premium and improving educational standards.

“We also welcome the reinvestment of some of efficiency savings made in day-to-day spending in capital infrastructure projects, which will total an extra £18bn over the next Parliament. Labour’s disproportionate cuts to capital spending, continued by the coalition, were a damaging mistake.

“The move away from automatic pay rises and towards rewarding performance is also welcome both for the savings it brings and the potential to improve the delivery of public services.

“There is one area where we would have liked to see the coalition be more ambitious, and that is social security spending for the wealthy. In these straitened times, universal handouts like winter fuel payments and free TV licenses are indefensible. It is time to focus welfare on those who truly need it.”