LEADING Tory MP, Liam Fox, has called for Osborne to announce a freeze on all public spending, which would cut spending by 2.5% a year, as against the coalition’s current plan which is for a 1% annual cut.
Fox calculated that his scheme would cut £345 billion from public spending, which he urged should be used to cut taxes, including the abolition of capital gains tax.
In his speech in central London Fox said: ‘I believe that we should aim to freeze public spending for at least three years and probably more.’ Fox also demanded an end to the ‘ring-fencing’ of budgets for the NHS, schools and international development.
A TUC spokesman responded: ‘When the policies aren’t working cranking them up to a higher level is absolute madness. It’s the usual stuff you always hear from that crop.’
Rehana Azam, health spokeswoman for the GMB, told News Line: ‘It’s all very well saying let’s have more of a squeeze on the public sector – why not focus on tax avoidance. And it’s not just public sector workers that suffer from this, the vast majority of the population suffers.
‘You’ve only got to look at the bedroom tax, which in years to come will be seen as this government’s poll tax. Really vulnerable people in our society are already suffering from this government and its policy to cut public sector services.
‘Next month millionaires are going to get a £100,000 cheque and at the same time women who take maternity leave are going to be £150 worse off. And then you’ve got somebody like Mr Liam Fox to come out and say “I’ve got a solution to the crisis. You haven’t cut enough you must cut even further”.
‘We’ve got to get away from this rhetoric that we are all in this together. Clearly we’re not.’
Unison Head of Health Christina McAnea said: ‘Patients, nurses, doctors and health staff will be appaled to hear government ministers calling for cuts in NHS spending. The NHS is under severe financial strain and the public are not fooled by claims that spending on health is in reality ring-fenced.
‘The ring-fence is an illusion when in reality jobs are going, Trusts are being told they must make £20bn in so-called efficiency savings, when the costs of treatment and drugs keep on rising and when we have a growing elderly population that needs more medical treatment.
‘Instead of doggedly pursuing policies that are failing the country, the government should be investing in jobs and infrastructure to get this country out of the financial mire.’
A BMA spokesperson said: ‘We reject the idea that health is somehow immune from spending cuts.
‘The NHS is under pressure to find cost savings of £20 billion by 2015. Staff are being axed and treatments are being rationed. Cost inflation in healthcare is massive.
‘The health service has to meet the costs of new technologies and treatments, and meet the challenges of an ageing population.’