Is austerity over?

Flip Chart Fairy Tales

Is austerity really over? That depends what you mean by austerity, of course. Certainly the aggressive deficit reduction targets that George Osborne set and kept missing have been abandoned. As the Resolution Foundation’s Adam Corlett pointed out before the election, going by the OBR’s most recent forecasts, it is now unlikely that the deficit will be eliminated before the middle of the next decade.

This means that the cuts to public service spending will not be as severe as they were in the first half of this decade. As this next chart, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows, real terms public service spending is forecast to increase slightly during the next few years. However (and its surprising how often this gets missed in discussions about public spending) the population is forecast to rise so spending per person is still likely to fall.

Departmental expenditure limits since 2007–08

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