'Austerity not over', warns Institute for Fiscal Studies ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond's Spring Statement
The latest public borrowing data shows that on a 12-month rolling sum basis, the current budget – which excludes capital investment – actually went into surplus in November 2017. Achieving balance on this deficit measure was George Osborne’s original 2010 target.
However, the IFS stressed on Friday that this improvement did not mean the pain of the cuts already pencilled in for benefits or public spending could – or were likely to be – cancelled simply due to the recent improvement.
“On current policy, ‘austerity’ is far from over,” said Carl Emmerson, deputy director of the IFS.
“Higher inflation means that this April, the freeze in the nominal value of many working-age social security benefits will bite much harder than before.
“The continued rollout of cuts to tax credits and of universal credit will also hit many low-income families. Meanwhile, cuts in many areas of public service spending are set to continue.
“Delivering a [overall] budget surplus by the mid-2020s, which the Government is currently committed to, will remain far from easY.