Peter Hoskin

The Treasury’s cutting difficulty

The Treasury's cutting difficulty
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Among the most eyecatching, and potentially important, stories of the day is this one in the Telegraph. It suggests that various departments have "failed" to outline a "worst case scenario" of 40 percent cuts that was demanded by the Treasury. And it even names and shames Caroline Spelman's Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs as one of the offenders. Mrs Spelman, we're told, has now "been forced to use the time before her holiday to work up the projections with her officials and permanent secretary." Nothing like a last minute job, then.

To be fair to Whitehall civil servants, there is a general sense that they have set about identifying cuts with some flair – although, obviously, the process won't go entirely smoothly. Whether it's official resistance or just general culture shock in this case, I'm not sure. But, either way, it doesn't make the Treasury's life any easier. As I've said before, the cuts that are being identified probably overestimate the savings that can actually be made. Without those 40 percent scenarios, then the government may struggle to hit 25 percent.