Osborne Targets Welfare for Further Cuts After ElectionIBTimes UK

Chancellor George Osborne has said Britain faces a further £25bn of public spending cuts by 2018.

That means across the four years from 2014 there will be £60bn slashed from government spending, with the welfare budget in for the biggest trim.

In a West Midlands speech, Osborne said he will ask parliament to vote on the new austerity numbers as well as a "charter for budget responsibility" which will oblige future governments to use surpluses to pay down debt rather than spend.

"If 2014 is a year of hard truths for our country, then it starts with this one: Britain should never return to the levels of spending of the last government," Osborne said at component manufacturer Sertec Group's new Head Office in Coleshill, Birmingham, as it unveiled 400 new jobs over four years.

"These votes will force parliament to make a choice and confront the truth."

Osborne is pushing the message that despite the emerging UK recovery, which is expected to accelerate in 2014, further austerity is needed to erase the structural deficit in public finances.

He had originally planned to complete his austerity programme within one parliament, which would end in May 2015, but a sharper-than-anticipated downturn triggered by the eurozone crisis weighed on output and tax receipts leaving him forced to borrow more.

This, argued Osborne, meant spending cuts had to be deeper than he first planned and over a longer timeframe.

Billions of pounds have already been stripped away from Whitehall departments, with some facing cuts of as much as 25%.

A significant chunk of the cuts have fallen on the welfare budget. Osborne has frozen benefit rises at 1% annually, a real terms cut when price inflation is taken into account.

He has also reformed housing benefit to with the introduction of the Spare Room Subsidy, dubbed the Bedroom Tax by opponents, which reduces the amount households receive in welfare support if they have spare rooms.

"George Osborne is desperate to stop talking about the cost-of-living crisis on his watch," said Ed Balls, Labour's shadow chancellor.

"But that won't stop working people from doing so as they are on average £1600 a year worse off under the Tories and prices are still rising faster than wages.

"Nor will the chancellor admit the reason why he is being forced to make more cuts is because his failure on growth and living standards has led to his failure to balance the books by 2015."