IFS challenges Osborne to spell out £12bn welfare cuts plan

Chancellor George Osborne has been urged to specify exactly how he plans to cut £12 billion from welfare spending by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Responding to this week’s budget, Paul Johnson, director of the independent forecaster, said only £2bn of these £12bn cuts have been outlined so far, yet all the cuts are supposed to be in place by 2017-18.

Mr Johnson added that it was important to know ahead of the general election what “radical changes” were planned and warned that the poor had lost most from the coalition’s benefit changes of the past five years

Admitting that the lack of detail was “frustrating”, Mr Johnson said: “You’re going to have to do things like further big cuts in child benefit, or really substantial cuts to housing benefit or significant cuts to disability benefits.

“He’s announced about £2bn and we know nothing about where the further £10bn are coming from. He will have to implement some significant cuts in some significant benefits.”

The IFS said that Labour and the Liberal Democrats would not cut spending as sharply, were they to win power, but government borrowing and debt would be reduced fastest under the Conservatives.

Earlier in the day, a senior Conservative minister said the party would not spell out all its welfare cuts until after the general election.

David Gauke, the Treasury secretary, was pressed repeatedly on theBBC’s Daily Politics to explain if the Tories would detail their planned welfare cuts beyond the £3bn previously specified.

He replied: “We will set it out nearer the time which will be after the election.”

He said such cuts were normally agreed as part of a wider spending review.

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