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Parties 'overambitious' with spending cut plans

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Britain’s political parties have been “overambitious” with their spending cut plans, according to a think tank that warned clearing the country’s deficit would need sweeping public service cuts.

As no main party has planned significant welfare payment cuts, Robert Chote, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said public service budgets would have to suffer the harshest restrictions in 30 years to address the record £163bn deficit.

His comments followed the publication of an IFS report that says the public is being denied an “informed choice” on the parties ahead of the general election, as none had set out their long term financial plans.

Mr Chote placed the blame “primarily” on Labour, because the governing party refused to carry out a review of government spending before 6 May.

Conservative plans to cut public spending this year were also criticised by the director because they would make little difference to the country’s overall public finances in the long term, but could damage the “fragile” economic recovery.

Mr Chote suggested the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat claims to cut spending were all “overambitious”. No matter which party won the general election, the next government would need more tax increases than admitted so far, he warned.

“Over the four years starting next year, Labour and the Liberal Democrats would need to deliver the deepest sustained cuts to spending on public services since the late 1970s,” he said.

“While, starting this year, the Conservatives would need to deliver cuts to spending on public services that have not been delivered over any five-year period since the Second World War.”

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