British government to make further cuts in welfare budget

08:25, September 10, 2010      

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The British coalition government on Thursday announced it would cut a further 4-billion-pound (6 billion U.S. dollars) slice off its welfare budget, in addition to cuts of 11 billion pounds (16.5 billion dollars) announced after it came to power in May.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in an interview with the BBC that Britain's welfare bill, which stands at about 200 billion pounds (about 330 billion dollars), was "completely out of control."

Osborne said: "We are going to reform the out-of-work system so that there is a very strong incentive for people who can work to work."

He added: "People who think it is a lifestyle choice to sit on out-of-work benefits, that lifestyle choice is going to come to an end."

However, Osborne was careful to say he would protect key benefits for elderly people.

Britain's welfare budget includes such things as money for the unemployed, money toward rent, money for those unable to work for health reasons, pensions for old people, winter fuel payments for old people, and money toward the upkeep of each child.

Some of the benefits, like pensions, have roots that go back nearly 100 years, while others are products of wealthier times several decades after the Second World War.

The exact make-up of the cuts is still being discussed in government departments, and will become clear when the autumn spending review is revealed on Oct. 20.

The government has set as its main task the reduction of government spending from a current record deficit of 153 billion pounds (about 240 billion dollars) a year.

The coming autumn spending review will be the most important since the Second World War, and many government departments have been told to prepare plans for cuts of between 25 and 40 percent in their budgets over the next four years.

Only health and overseas aid have been exempted from the cuts, while defense has been ordered to prepare for lesser cuts of between 10 and 20 percent.

Source: Xinhua


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