British govt's austerity cuts to hit poorest hardest: think tank

19:47, October 22, 2010      

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The austerity cuts revealed by British Chancellor George Osborne this week will hit the poorest hardest over the next four years, an independent think-tank said Thursday.

Osborne's cuts in total public spending, which will begin in April 2011 and continue for four years, would be the deepest since World War II, Carl Emmerson, acting director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), told a press briefing.

The cuts in public services would be the deepest since 1975, when the then Labor government was trying to comply with an International Monetary Fund austerity plan to stabilize the economy, according to him.

Emmerson said the coalition government was planning deeper cuts to total public spending than the former Labor administration had planned in its last budget in March 2010.

The cuts will total 81 billion pounds (124 billion U.S. dollars) in government spending by 2014-15, and will cost 490,000 jobs. They will entail a radical and massive restructuring of welfare benefits, with some people currently reliant on benefits for their income likely to see that income reduced or their benefits removed altogether.

Emmerson contradicted the government's own conclusion that the tax and benefit reforms yet to be implemented would be progressive, meaning that the cuts did not fall more heavily on poor people than on rich and better-off people.

The IFS research showed the cuts fell more heavily on poor people.

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