Except, that is, for George Osborne, who this week promised that 2014 will be a ‘year of hard truths’. Pointing to his ongoing efforts to close the structural budget deficit, the Chancellor has said that a further £25bn of cuts will be needed after the next election in 2015. Anyone who has looked at the numbers will be unsurprised by this glum prognosis. As the Institute for Government warned in its briefing ahead of the 2013 Spending Review, the scale of the fiscal challenge suggests it would not be surprising if not only 2015 but also 2020 is an ‘austerity’ election. Spending allocations will always, ultimately, be political decisions motivated by values, as David Cameron made clear when he said on Sunday that protecting pensioner incomes was “a choice based on values, based on my values”. Yet to be effective and sustainable, not just election-winning, decisions need to be based on evidence too. Taking good decisions in 2015 requires serious preparation now. Incoming ministers of any party will need a range of viable and stress-tested options on the table for when the Treasury comes looking for further cash in the post-election spending review. Yet as research for the Institute for […]

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