Treasury orders cabinet ministers to brace themselves for 40% cuts

Treasury orders cabinet ministers to brace themselves for 40% cuts

Shock demand comes as ministers step up emergency cost-cutting across public sector
David Cameron
Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, left, with David Cameron last month. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP
Cabinet ministers have been ordered by the Treasury to plan for unprecedented cuts of 40% in their departmental budgets as the coalition widens the scope of its four-year austerity drive.

The eye-watering demand from the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, was sent this weekend to cabinet colleagues ahead of a week in which ministers will step up emergency cost-cutting across the public sector.

The only departments not included in the Treasury trawl will be health and international development, which have been "ringfenced" for the current parliament. Education and defence will also escape lightly. Alexander has told the education secretary, Michael Gove, and the defence secretary, Liam Fox, to plan for two scenarios – cuts to budgets of 10% at best and 20% at worst over four years. All other departments – including the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Transport – have been ordered to produce plans showing the impact of cuts of 25%, and at worst 40%.
It is estimated that a 25% cut in the Home Office budget could mean a reduction in the number of police officers of almost 20,000.

In addition, all departments have been asked to show how they would slash day-to-day administration costs, excluding salaries, by 33% at the lower end and 50% at the higher end. A Treasury source said: "We are determined to tackle the record budget deficit in order to keep interest rates lower for longer, protect jobs and maintain the quality of essential public services. These planning assumptions are not final settlements, and do not commit the Treasury or departments to final settlements."

In the budget last month the chancellor, George Osborne, said that, with the exception of health and international development, departments faced average cuts of 25%. But it was expected the pain would be spread fairly evenly.

Alexander and Osborne briefed the full cabinet at a meeting last Tuesday. They stressed that asking ministers to look at the impact of 40% cuts did not mean they would be hit by such harsh settlements when final details were announced in the comprehensive spending review (CSR) on 20 October. Sources were at pains to point out that Labour had been planning cuts of 20% and that as a result the coalition's settlement would mean more for education, defence and health.

The announcement of a 40% outer limit could be seen as tactical – to prepare the public for the worst in the hope that when final details are announced they will come as less of a shock.

In a sign of how determined ministers are to act fast, the government is expected this week to halt the rebuilding of around 700 schools in order to save a further £1bn a year. And in a move that will cause bitterness among the Whitehall mandarins drawing up the cuts, ministers intend to announce plans soon to slash payoff terms for hundreds of thousands of civil servants, many of whom fear redundancy as a result of the austerity measures. Last week it emerged that at least 600,000 public service jobs could be lost.

The Observer understands that the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, wants to pass legislation to change the long-standing Civil Service Compensation Scheme, which he sees as too generous. In some cases civil servants can leave with a payoff of six times their salary, though insiders say these are rare exceptions. An attempt by the previous government to change the compensation scheme failed following a successful union challenge in the high court.

Sources told the Observer that an announcement – which could lead to union threats of strike action – had been pencilled in for last Thursday and is now expected this week or next. Representatives of the main civil service unions have been called to a meeting at the Cabinet Office tomorrow.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, reacted angrily when told that moves were imminent. "This would be an outrageous abuse by the government, simply because it failed to get the result it wanted in the high court. We are determined to resist any attempt by the government to ride roughshod over our members' rights."

Ministers were also warned last night that the number of people classed as homeless in Britain could more than double because of "unfair" benefit cuts. The National Housing Federation, the body representing England's 1,200 not-for-profit housing associations, predicts that impending cuts to housing benefit will put a further 200,000 people at grave risk of homelessness and lead to a concentration of social problems in the most deprived areas of the country. Currently 140,000 people are classified as homeless in Britain.

The new government has unveiled plans to cut housing benefit by 10% for people claiming jobseeker's allowance for 12 months or more from April 2013. The cuts would hit Britain's 200,000 single, childless claimants hardest. Someone in London with a weekly rent of £350 would see their benefit cut by £35. The NHF said tenants would be forced to make up the shortfall from their £65.45 weekly allowance, leaving just £30.45 for food, clothing and energy.

"Cutting housing benefit could have a catastrophic impact on the lives of thousands of people who – despite their best efforts – have failed to find work after 12 months," said the federation's chief executive, David Orr. "These changes mean that up to 200,000 people could end up homeless. Quite frankly, the proposals are disturbing and unfair."

Critics also say plans to cap payments to private tenants and to reduce the level at which housing benefit is paid from 50% of local rent levels to 30% could force hundreds of thousands of families out of their homes.

FT 金融時報:緊縮預算案將重塑英國

2010年06月30日 15:37       


當時,英國經濟不僅開放,而且充滿活力和競爭力。倫敦既是一個全球金融服務業中心,也是新興國家新富階層的一個第二故鄉。托尼 貝理雅(Tony Blair)的中左翼政府利用豐厚的稅收收入來修補和翻新英國的公共部門。    


當然,問題也是存在的。伊拉克戰爭毀掉了貝理雅的聲譽,並最終害得他丟掉首相一職。不過,全球金融危機打碎了“輕鬆創造繁榮”的夢想。當戈登布朗(Gordon Brown)政府在今年5月的大選中被擊敗時,一位財政大臣感慨地給自己的繼任者留了張便條:“余錢已無”。    

人們目前仍在爭論誰該對掏空國庫負責:是前任政府的揮霍,還是銀行家的貪婪無度二者都要負一定的責任。不管怎樣,保守黨-自由民主黨聯合政府財政大臣喬治 奧斯本(George Osborne)上周已匯總出了預算額。所有人都知道,預算案的消息會很殘酷。但即使在聽完奧斯本詳細說明將如何大幅減支加稅後,也很少有人明白這會多痛苦,以及它對英國如何看待自身和世界如何看待英國意味着什麼。    


人們問得最多的一個問題是,奧斯本這一厲行節約的賭博是否會獲得回報。市場是否會因英國政府承諾消除赤字而對之進行獎賞 或者,如此狂熱地奉行財政緊縮,是否會把英國經濟重新推入衰退    

兩種結果皆有可能。戴維 卡梅倫(David Cameron)的保守黨和尼克 克萊格(Nick Clegg)的自由民主黨組成的聯合政府,已做出如下兩點考慮:它不能冒主權債務危機從歐元區蔓延至英國之險;它必須提前應對。它希望,現在就採取行動會令經濟形勢在下次選舉前有所好轉。    


無論如何,嚴厲緊縮都會讓英國國民感到頭暈目眩。除了減薪和凍結福利,英國政府還提出把白廳的多數預算削減25%。即使是以熱衷精簡大政府而聞名(或聲名狼藉)的瑪格麗特 撒切爾(Margaret Thatcher),也從不敢如此大幅地削減預算。    



2010-07-03 09:43


另一篇文章是英國<金融時報>的專欄作家馬丁.沃夫所寫的「日本慘況,值得中國警惕」。他提到20年前,日本是最成功的國家,但沒有人知道20年後日本會是這樣。馬丁.沃夫舉了經濟歷史學家安格斯.麥迪森(Angus Maddison)的統計,過去20年,日本平均GDP(國內生產毛額)成長只有1.1%,比起中國10.5%的成長,簡直是天差地別。日本的GDP在1950年時只有美國的5分之1,但是到了泡沫經濟最巔峰的91年,日本的GDP追到美國的85%,但是到了06年只剩下72%。









非歐盟經濟移民 明年新限額諮詢

非歐盟經濟移民 明年新限額諮詢
2010-07-04 05:51:00 
(本 報記者董婷婷報道)內政部邊境管理局(UKBA)及移民諮詢委員會(MAC),目前分別就明年4月1日起即將實施的,常設非歐盟經濟移民人數限制政策細則 進行諮詢。

今年7月19日至明年3月31日期間,臨時配額只限制Tier 1一般類(General)國外申請人。但MAC在諮詢文件建議政府,明年4月起,將在英國國內外申請、續簽、轉簽Tier 1一般簽證的申請人,及其配偶全部列入配額限制內。 劉志偉律師指出,根據以往經驗,政府往往全盤接受MAC的建議。因此,MAC以上建議很可能得以實施,令新進入英國的非歐盟經濟移民進一步減少。

UKBA諮詢內容包括:為Tier 1及Tier 2簽證申請人設置年度人數上限後,發放簽證是否應遵循「先到先得,額滿即止」的原則;是否再度提高Tier 1及Tier 2的達標標準;是否增設加分項;是否應將Tier 1投資者(Investor)及企業家(Entrepreneur)、Tier 2公司內部調職(ICT),以及申請人配偶都歸入限額內等。該諮詢9月17日結束。


有華人律師提醒廣大華人,認真查閱兩份諮詢文件,在今年9月諮詢期結束前,按規定提交書面意見,盡可能為自己爭取權益。 劉志偉律師則鼓勵華人團體團結印巴族裔,以及英國移民法從業員協會(Immigration Law Practitioners' Association,ILPA)等專業機構,對政府未來移民政策施加影響。
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