Nick Clegg on the spending review

Here is Nick Clegg’s email to party members about today’s spending review. What’s notable about the content is the strong continuation of the ‘love everything the coalition is doing in public’ line – rather than talking up what is being done differently because Liberal Democrats disagreed with Conservatives.

Notable also is the continuation of Nick’s strong emphasis on the importance of early years education. It is an issue that he has consistently spoken passionately about being one of his priorities even though, as recent events have shown, the party more widely has often preferred to place a great emphasis on other parts of the education system.

The spending review has inevitably been a tough process. We have made the decision to take the hard road – but it is the right road to a more prosperous, fairer Britain. The unavoidable moment of truth came just as we entered government: Labour’s deficit had to be tackled. I did not go into government to make cuts. But nor can I be in government and allow us to keep spending more than £100 million a day on servicing our debt – enough to build a primary school every single hour, or triple the number of doctors working in our hospitals.

The spending review is a thoroughly Coalition product. Liberal Democrat ministers have been involved every step of the way. Our values and priorities are written through the review, like the message in a stick of rock. We have had to make some very difficult choices. But the review is one that promotes fairness, underpins growth, reduces carbon emissions and localises power.

The Coalition Government is investing £7 bn in a ‘fairness premium’ to help disadvantaged children; putting more than £1 billion into a regional growth fund; launching a Green Investment Bank with at least £2 billion for low-carbon technology and new jobs; and giving local government real financial freedoms. This Government will be spending more than £700bn on public services – the same as in 2006.

For too long Labour enjoyed the years of plenty and whether they are part of the new generation or old, they put their head in the sand when it came to acknowledging the deficit. They spent beyond our country’s means and squandered the public purse. They quite simply endangered the prosperity of our country and it is now taking two political parties to put Britain on the road to recovery.

Along with Danny Alexander, Vince Cable and the rest of the Liberal Democrat ministerial team I have been working day in day out over recent months to ensure that the Comprehensive Spending Review meets key Liberal Democrat tests.

Liberal Democrat ministers have fought to ensure that the burden of the challenge ahead is shared fairly. On child benefit, capital gains and tax evasion and avoidance – this government is making the well off pay their share. And for those services that matter most to the vulnerable in our society, such as health and social care and early years education, spending is being protected.

We are not taking the decisions today because they are easy or because we want to see a smaller state, we are taking them because they are right. We have a hard road to recovery ahead, but we are determined to ensure it is a road that leads to fairness too.

For Liberal Democrats, the two key questions today will be whether the overall level of spending is right given the current economic outlook and whether the strategic messaging choice is the best one.

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  • “The spending review is a thoroughly Coalition product. ”

    Yes, Nick and that’s why I am wondering if I have spent 16 years building a Lib Dem presence in my area to have it shattered by your decisions about the Coalition.

  • As far as the strategic message goes, the Ministerial end of the parliamentary team can hardly do other than they are doing – accept collective responsibility and put forward the coalition line with “one voice, one message”.

    However, what matters is what is happening behind the scenes. Are they highlighting the important aspects of decisions that are Lib Dem influenced to allow the more “independent” parliamentarians (such as Simon Hughes) to speak out about the things we as a party like and the things we dislike?

    The way it is written in the press, the “quadrilateral team” of Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Alexander are acting in semi-isolation from their parties (and from the rest of the Cabinet). If true at all (let alone to the extent the press want us to believe), this would be a great worry. Whilst those inside the negotiations clearly need to “hold the line”, there needs to be a mechanism to get information out and influence in.

  • “love everything the coalition is doing in public’ line – rather than talking up what is being done differently because Liberal Democrats disagreed with Conservatives.”

    Hasn’t anyone told Nick there are elections and an AV vote to win in a few short months?
    Because the public will be ticking a box that says Liberal Democrat or Conservative not Coalition Party.
    Nor willl the AV vote be won on love of the coalition.

  • richard heathcote 20th Oct '10 - 11:48am

    It is hard to see a difference between the coalition and the conservative party to be quite honest. The lib-dem message is being lost.

  • Sorry Nick that will not wash m8 ,you decided nothing David and George decided what to do, and you have followed like a sheep,you have sold your Liberal values for a bit of power not one proper cabinet job or one policy fully implemented .You were going on and on about no cuts during the election . One meeting with the torie,s and you then decided to cut ,you are a mug m8
    andy edinburgh

  • @Mark Pack
    Did I detect just a hint odf an exasperated sign in your commentary on the ‘love everything the coalition is doing in public’ line from Nick 🙂

    Have you totally discounted the possibility that in the case of Nick this ‘love in’ is actually genuine. If you have discounted this I would be intruigued to hear your reasoning.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 20th Oct '10 - 1:09pm

    “Andy: ‘no cuts’, really? The Lib Dem manifesto contained a promise of an autumn spending review with cuts. There’s a debate about the size and speed talked about compared with now, but I don’t see how you can claim they were talking about ‘no cuts’?”

    It’s instructive to look again at what we were actually told by the Lib Dems during the election campaign:

    The manifesto identifies £15 billion of cuts, itemised in the document with £5 billion to then go on the party’s spending commitments and £10 billion to cutting the deficit.
    However, “There is more to be done” to tackle the deficit. That will include public sector pension reform, a rapid defence review and savings on the vast government IT projects. If this saving can be achieved there is no need to an increase in taxation beyond the £2 billion levy on banks.

    No mention at all of across-the-board cuts of 25% in departmental spending, strangely enough.

  • Richard Heathcote “It is hard to see a difference between the coalition and the conservative party to be quite honest. The lib-dem message is being lost.”

    Meanwhile, Conservative Party members think Cameron has capitulated to his inner Lib Dem.

    I guess that means the Coalition has it about right.

  • “£100 million a day on servicing our debt – enough to build a primary school every single hour:

    wow. I’ve never been one to underestimate the importance of tackling the deficit, but that’s a really useful stat. Googling, I see it’s been used around quite a few Lib Dem sites recently.

  • danny is trying to explain (on bbc) why the bottom 10 per cent are bearing the brunt of the cuts. He cannot justify it. The public dont know what the cuts mean but they will. The tories have set up the lib dem leaders, who sound and look like tories – to sink without a trace at the next election, after,of course,they have dismantled society for the poor

  • robert preston is asking danny where the poor will live. He has no answer

  • Treasury documents show (as one might expect – odd to give impression it could be otherwise) that poorest 10% did worse and richest 10% least worst.

    Not necesssarily a deal-breaker, after all benefits huge proportion of poorest 10%’s income, and Nick has promised he will improve their income from working. But I think best to be honest about these cuts.

  • @all you deficit deceivers, here is your beloved Nick speaking,if he didn,t back Labour on the cuts why was he saying “he changed his views”he got offered a car and a red box and sold his sole .
    @Anthony Aloysius St
    @Mark Pack

    [In an Observer interview on 6 June, Clegg described his conversation with King on 15 May. “He couldn’t have been more emphatic. He said, ‘If you don’t do this, then because of the deterioration of market conditions it will be even more painful to do it later.'”

    But Clegg has now admitted that he had changed his views on the timing of cuts before the general election had even taken place.

    The revelations are made in a BBC2 documentary Five Days that changed Britain, broadcast tonight, which outlines the dramatic five days following the inconclusive result of the 6 May general election and the frenzied negotiations over the formation of a new government.

    Asked by BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, if he had changed his mind about cuts this year during the five days of negotiations, Clegg said: “I changed my mind earlier than that … firstly remember between March and the actual general election … a financial earthquake occurred in on our European doorstep.”

    Pressed on why he failed to convey this to the electorate prior to them casting their votes, Clegg said: “… to be fair we were all … reacting to very, very fast-moving economic events.”]

    I don,t care what you said in your manifesto as it dosn,t mean nothing ,just like scraping tuition fees ,stopping kids getting locked up, which i admit my party done and it was wrong .I thought the lib dems would have been fair but i was wrong
    andy edinburgh

  • Can someone clarify something for me on Working Tax Credit (Child element)

    The way I understand it, at the moment you have to work 16 hrs a week or more to get it.

    They have just announced in the Spending review that this will change to parents who work 24hrs a week or more.

    At a time when the government is now going to be making 500,000 people unemployed.

    The Treasury is advising That departments reduce peoples hrs rather than cutting jobs.

    Doesn’t 1 policy contradict the other?

    The way I see it, they are going to encourage employers to reduce working hrs, (which will inevitability also affect part time workers/ single Parents) But also possibly remove there eligibility for working tax credits.

    How this Liberal Democrat Party can claim this spending review is progressive is beyond me

  • @Matt..You are right and the IFS agrees with you,they have said this is regressive and will hit the poorest in society.

  • Well Liberal Democrats have lost the last tiny bit of hope and respect that i had for them.
    I was clinging that last bit of hope on simon Hughes, whom I thought was the only one left with an ounce of Morals,
    I thought he would speak out against these cuts being disproportionate and that they where going to be hitting the poorest people from the (lowest 10%) in society, harder than the other (80% who are better off) but less than the top 10 %.

    This is not progressive and I really expected better from Liberals and from Mr Hughes in general.

    What a sad day for democracy, a sad day for Liberals, but an even worse day for the United Kingdom.

    Doesn’t it make you proud to be British!

  • Ruth Bright 20th Oct '10 - 8:30pm

    The Deputy PM’s passion about early years education might be slightly more touching if childcare tax credit hadn’t been cut today.

  • Dress this up however you want, spin it however much you need to, but the facts remain undisputable…

    Nick Clegg is a liar, he has broken alomost every primose the party made in its manifesto as well as turned his back on the core liberal policy of protecting the vulnerable in society.

  • Ruth Bright 20th Oct '10 - 8:44pm

    Stev – I am not really sure that Clegg has broken every primrose but I believe he did once vandalise some cacti.

  • I thought a large part of Clegg’s reasoning for being in coalition with the Tory’s was to ‘temper’ their worst traits and excesses?
    Judging by his behaviour this afternoon in that he was unable to even look up and face those on the opposition benches as Osborne went through his cuts list which hurts the poorest the most, and that when Osborne sat down he patted his back, just says everything.
    Alexander’s responses to Andrew Neil in exchanges over the charts that point that the poorest being the worst affected were weak drivel.
    Well done Dems.

  • Grammar Police 21st Oct '10 - 9:09am

    @ Ruth Bright “childcare tax credit hadn’t been cut today.”

    Child care costs that can be reclaimed through tax credits will be reduced from 80% to 70%, but at the same time there will be an increase in the child element of the Child Tax Credit by a further £30 in 2011-12 and £50 in 2012-13 over and above inflation.

    I don’t think anyone likes what needs to be done to restore public spending to what we were spending in 2006, but 1) public spending will still be be £43bn higher in 2015 than 2010; 2) the third largest item of public expenditure in 2015 is going to be debt interest repayments at £63bn a year, larger than the entire education budget at £58bn. Do we honestly want to be spending more Government money on debt repayments, and borrowing more making that worse?

  • @grammar police+

    “Child care costs that can be reclaimed through tax credits will be reduced from 80% to 70%”

    But that doesn’t get away from the fact that the government has moved the post for eligibility from people who work 16hrs a week to people now have to work 24hrs a week.

    At a time when Government is telling employers to Reduce peoples hrs, rather than making redundancies, this makes no sense whatsoever.
    Inevitability, there will be people who now work 24hrs and get tax credits, will find that they have their hrs reduced to 20hrs a week, And will no longer be entitled to Tax Credits.

    This will probably Hit single mum’s more.

    This is not progressive

  • I am also shocked at the lack of responses on here from Liberals with regards to the spending review.

    Are we to assume that either

    A) Liberals are fully supporting yesterdays spending reviews and cuts
    B) The party is imploding Privately in the members forum, rather than exploding in the public forum


  • The more we go into the details the more appalling the welfare cuts are proving to be. This morning we hear that people on working family tax credits are getting a reduction. How can that be. That even goes against the illiberal view held my many lib dems that poverty is a lifestyle choice and that the scroungers should go and get a job.

    Then it becomes apparent that people on job seekers allowance and housing benefit will get their HB cut after 12 months if they cant find a job. Please dear “liberals” tell me. Where are they to go? What with the maximum benefits cap that will hit people with high housing costs because they live in areas of high employment, forcing them to areas of low employment; and then the incredible reduction in capital funding of social housing, and the lower grant rate, and the removal of continuing security of tenure ……………………………….when are we going to be building the shanty towns.

    An honest question to any sincere lib dems who support this CSR – Have you lost your minds??????????????

  • I just heard on the BBC News that the Government have said

    Incapacity Benefit will no longer be paid to people who have assets of over 16k.

    Are they really saying that if someone is a home owner or has a Mortgage with Equity in it, If they become I’ll or Disabled, they will be forced to sell there House and not be entitled to benefit?

    But if you are a home owner or Mortgage Payer and become unemployed you will still be entitled to benefit?

    My god I hope BBC NEWS are reporting this wrong, If not

    How would this be legal? There are Laws against Discrimination and this would clearly be a discrimination towards Disabled People.

    The Government would surly be facing massive legal bills from Disabled or sick people if this policy was to go ahead and people where forced to sell their homes.

    I am getting really annoyed and finding it very difficult to contain myself and my language on this board lol.

    What are you Lib Dems doing? I hope you are pulling your fingers out of your *********** and opposing this.

    You need to pull out of this Coalition NOW if these policies are true.

    Start standing up the Vulnerable who your party promises to protect. Please

  • See the pat on the back Clegg gave Osbourne? After attacking yet again the most vulnerable?


    Under the changes to Employment Support Allowance, people with assets of more than £16,000, or a weekly household income of more than £90 will no longer be eligible to receive it.

    Welfare groups have warned that the income of partners will also be taken into account when calculating weekly household income and they say this will particularly disadvantage low income couples.

    Government sources say that although such claimants will lose their right to Employment Support Allowance, they may still be able to receive other payments such as council tax benefit, housing benefit and disability living allowance.

    A)People on Incapacity Benefit are going to be Migrated over to ESA

    B) Entitlement is being changed from SAVINGS to ASSETS.

    Therefore anyone with a house who has any equity in it, will not be entitled to ESA and would be forced to sell their House.

    The Government say that although they will not be entitled to ESA they may still be able to claim, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and DLA.

    Who are they Kidding here???
    They are reducing Council tax benefits by 10%, stopping peoples ESA, Making people Homeless, Capping Housing Benefits (Even though there is a shortage of social housing) and forcing people to rent Privately, And taking away peoples DLA.

    This is a clear ASSAULT of the most Vulnerable people in society.

    Would some Liberal Democrats PLEASE speak up and tell us what you propose to do about this??? You have RESPONSIBILITIES!

  • Fine but as a LibDem Cllr, in the past week I’ve done three Q&A sessions, one with the elderly and two with sixth forms. The elderly one went fine – they mostly like the coalition and the benefits that matter to them the most are mostly protected. But the two with sixth forms revealed a significant loss of support (and a fair degree of hostility) from a contituency that until recently has been one of our strongest. The EMA issue coming on top of Tuition Fees, potential council cuts in youth centres, libraries etc, and transport fare increases, is generating a lot of concern.

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