Cuts – you’ll have to ‘watch this space’ quite a bit longer…

A lot of media analysts and city commentators have been loosely talking about the forthcoming Budget ‘spelling out the cuts’ that were so obviously absent from the election campaign. It won’t.

David Cameron has just confirmed in an interview on the Andrew Marr show that the Budget will only spell out the spending envelope for the whole of government for the next three years (April 2011 to March 2014). It will not contain any details of Departmental Expenditure Limits (DELs) – that will have to wait until the Spending Review in the Autumn.

The Budget will spell out the cuts for this financial year (April 2010-March 2011) but by the time it appears at the end of June most of those will probably have been announced anyway. The £6bn target for the financial year now agreed by the Government will be more like £7bn plus in impact because we’re already well into the financial year. Some cuts that have to be ‘cascaded’ from Whitehall to other tiers of government and services may take even longer to implement, and so will have to be sharper, if the £6bn target is to be reached.

It will be interesting to see how the City, and public, reacts when they realise it will be October or November before we have any real clue of where the axe is going to fall. City analysts in particular criticised the previous Governments’ deficit reduction strategy for lacking credibility because it didn’t spell out how cuts would be made – the forthcoming Budget will be just as devoid of the detail they want.

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