Yesterday’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review – a double-header delight for ‘fiscal event’ addicts like me – demonstrated just how strange the era we are living through has become. The fact is that the social security system has not been one of the main sources of coalition and Conservative government efforts to reduce the budget deficit, yet austerity is understood in precisely these terms within the public consciousness. However, benefit expenditure now will be making a significant contribution to austerity over the next five years – yet Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has now somehow managed to present his latest set of spending plans as a relaxation of the assault on benefits, thereby demonstrating his statesmanlike qualities.
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Image: Gareth Milner