But could it be the case that we have so far only seen the thin end of the wedge as regards public spending cuts?
XpertHR's August 2012 economic commentary article observes that recent weeks have seen a growing body of evidence emerge, to suggest that - far from winding down in good time for the 2015 general election (according to the timetable originally envisaged by Chancellor George Osborne when the Coalition Government was formed in 2010) - the age of austerity could have only just begun.
These include the following:
- David Cameron has stated that ongoing turmoil in the global economy and in the eurozone means that "I don't see a time when difficult spending choices are going to go away."
- Cameron's comments came in the wake of Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood's statement that "we are 25% through fiscal adjustment. Spending cuts could last seven, eight, 10 years." The Telegraph says this means that we "could see public spending squeezed until 2020."
- Some 90% of the spending cuts announced by the Coalition Government have yet to take effect, according to the IPPR.
- "Population ageing will put upward pressure on public spending," resulting in the need for further swingeing cuts to public spending. This is according to the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR) latest Fiscal Sustainability Report. The BBC reports that "the OBR says in 2017-18 public spending needs to be cut by another £17bn or the same amount raised in taxes to stop debt ballooning. The OBR says this change would bring total debt back to 40% of GDP by 2061. Without the move it says debt would reach 89% of annual income by 2061."
For further analysis, see: XpertHR economic commentary August 2012: Going nowhere.