By politics.co.uk staff
The government's plans to protect health and aid budgets have been attacked as unjustified by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
The business body fears the move will damage the economic recovery by causing more drastic cuts to capital investment in other areas.
Its Budget submission points out that in Canada, where decisive departmental spending cuts quickly reduced a large structural deficit in the 1990s, health and aid budgets were cut like all others.
"As politically unpalatable as it may be, the decision to ring-fence spending on health and overseas aid is unrealistic and unsustainable in the current circumstances," the BCC's director general David Frost said.
"Ring-fencing health will mean deeper and more drastic cuts to important investment elsewhere, without the benefit of clear justification."
Mr Frost instead called on chancellor George Osborne to focus instead on programme spending and waste.
The BCC also wants an immediate two-year pay freeze on public sector pay and a complete abolition of the April 2011 rise in national insurance contributions.