End of austerity?

Chancellor Sajid Javid delivers his Spending Budget

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Spending Review 2019: has Sajid Javid announced the end of austerity?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

For the first time in four years, the chancellor announced his Spending Review - and Sajid Javid used the opportunity to declare the end of austerity.

He said that the government is "turning the page on austerity", and beginning a new decade of renewal.

However, critics argue his Spending Review does not come close to reversing "austerity's bitter legacy".

The Claim

During the Spending Review on Wednesday, Javid announced "the end of austerity" after nine years.

The chancellor promised more cash for schools, hospitals, the police, prisons and the homeless - increasing public spending by 4.1 per cent in real terms.

He said: "We are turning the page on austerity and beginning a new decade of renewal. A new economic era needs a new economic plan, and today we lay the foundations with the fastest increase in day to day spending in 15 years."

He said that the country has been "living within its means", and while the decisions were tough, Javid argues that they have paid off.

The chancellor said: "And so I can announce today that no department will be cut next year.

"Every single government department has had its budget for day-to-day spending increased at least in line with inflation.

"That’s what I mean by the end of austerity, Mr Speaker. Britain’s hard work paying off. A country living within its means, able to spend more on the things that matter."

The Counterclaim

However, the Guardian's Polly Toynbee says that Javid's giveaways do not "come close to reversing austerity’s bitter legacy".

According to the Institute For Fiscal Studies, the chancellor would need to spend £60 billion to restore services to 2010 levels.

Toynbee says that there has "never been such a regressive decade", with the young less well off than their parents were at their age.

Councils have lost £16 billion over a decade, about 600,000 public service jobs have gone, and 40 per cent has been cut from social care. She adds that child poverty - at nearly 40 per cent - is the highest recorded since the war.

She argues: "Everyone can see the frayed social fabric all around them: in unkempt parks, neglected playgrounds, shuttered services, long waiting times.

"And all that heedless, needless cutting was for nothing: breaking the fiscal rules proves this was about pure ideology, not economics."

The Facts

Spending Reviews - or Comprehensive Spending Reviews - were introduced in 1998 under Labour when Gordon Brown was chancellor. The reviews, which takes a long-term view of the government's spending plans, tend to happen every two or three years.

However, the last one was under George Osborne, who combined it with his Autumn Statement, in 2015. "What happened?" the BBC asks. "In a word, Brexit," they answer.

But they are seemingly back, and new chancellor Sajid Javid deliver his first Spending Review on Wednesday, focusing on the 2020/2021 financial year.

He announced a new £2 billion fund that will be made available next year to help British companies prepare for Brexit. He also said that the Treasury will work with the Bank of England to help the economy prepare for the post-Brexit environment.

Javid said there will be an extra £750 million for the Home Office to fund the first year of the government's plan to recruit 20,000 new police officers.

The number of officers in England and Wales fell by over 20,000 between March 2010 and March 2018. According to Full Fact, the number of current officers - around 122,000 - is the lowest recorded level since the early 1980s.

His predecessor Philip Hammond previously pledged that funding for the NHS would increase by £20bn a year by 2023. Javid announced a £6.2 billion increase in health funding for 2020/2021. He also pledged a £2 billion fund for upgrades to 20 hospitals this year.

The chancellor said that school spending will increase over three years by £7.1 billion. Every secondary school will be allocated a minimum of £5,000 for every pupil next year - while primary schools will receive at least £3,750 per pupil (increasing to £4,000 the following year).

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Spending Round 2019: Chancellor Sajid Javid's speech

Mr Speaker,

Let me start by saying a few words around the circumstances around today's statement.

We are in uncharted waters.

I understand the strong feelings around the House on these important questions.

[Political content redacted]

But Mr Speaker, we cannot allow that uncertainty to distract us from delivering on the people's priorities

So today, we give certainty where we can.

I announce our spending plans for Britain's first year outside the European Union.

[Political content redacted]

We are turning the page on austerity and beginning a new decade of renewal.

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