In the March Budget – and, indeed in the Conservative manifesto - we were promised budget balance by 2018-19. That magic moment has now been shifted back a year. In part, that reflects a gentler than planned path for spending cuts, including welfare spending cuts. The gentler path does not however represent a let up in the overall scale of cuts – other than for defence. Spending in unprotected departments (those other than health, overseas aid, schools and, now, defence) will still have fallen by about a third in real terms over the ten years to April 2020.
The Budget was certainly not short on measures. The scorecard shows net tax increases of £6.5 billion a year by 2020 (although whether these are all fully realised remains to be seen) but benefit cuts were at the centre of the budget strategy.