'Still much more we can do' on Whitehall efficiency, says chancellor

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
8 July 2015

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his budget today that his fiscal plans will require around £37 billion of “further consolidation” over this Parliament.

Osborne said just under half of that figure would come from welfare savings and tackling tax avoidance, totalling £17 billion, with the rest coming from reductions to government departments following a spending review in the autumn.

However, he said no year would see cuts “as deep as those required in 2011-12 and 2012-13”.

“We should cut the deficit at the same pace we did in the last government,” he told the House of Commons.

“A huge amount has already been done to increase efficiency across Whitehall, with administrative budgets down by over 40 per cent in real terms, but there’s still much more we can do.”

Osborne announced a new “roads fund”, into which all the cash raised by vehicle excise licences would be paid, after telling MPs the UK’s road network quality was ranked behind those of Puerto Rico and Namibia.

“From the end of this decade, every single penny raised in vehicle excise duty in England will go into that fund to pay for the sustained investment our roads so badly need,” he said.

Osborne said the freeze on fuel duty would remain in place this year.

The chancellor also announced a new national living wage, which would rise incrementally from next year to £9 per hour by 2020.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) criticised the lack of support for the training of drivers in the budget.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “In his spring budget George Osborne recognised the shortage of HGV drivers and pledged action to help. This budget does nothing to help solve the crisis, despite strong representation from across the industry.

“By the end of 2016 we will be some 60,000 drivers short if action is not taken now.”

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