Clutch the pearls, fellow libertarians. The British Nanny State is in for a tumble.
The British government unveiled the country’s steepest public spending cuts in decades on Wednesday, sharply reducing welfare benefits, raising the retirement age earlier than planned and eliminating almost half a million public sector jobs over the next four years as the country seeks to free itself of crushing debt from the global financial crisis.
“Today is the day when Britain steps back from the brink,” George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as Britain’s top finance minister is known, told Parliament as he laid out an ambitious and potentially risky plan to reduce debt.
“It is a hard road but it leads to a better future,” he said, but “to back down now would be the road to economic ruin.”
He said that 490,000 public sector jobs would be lost over the four-year savings program and the size of government departments in London would be cut by one third. Public spending would be cut by a total 83 billion pounds, or around $130 billion, by 2015.
Not even Her Highness is safe.
Mr. Osborne promised savings of an annual 7.1 per cent in the budgets of local councils and said there would be a freeze followed by a 14 per cent cut in tax funds allocated to maintaining the royal household of Queen Elizabeth II.
Cuts are also in store for police and national defense, though education, health care, and intelligence will get a boost.