PM: It’s our duty to cut

By staff

David Cameron invoked patriotic language as he sought to justify the coalition government’s agenda for massive reductions in public spending.

The prime minister said ministers had a “duty” to reduce expenditure because of the legacy the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had been left by Labour.

Writing in the Sunday Times, he likened the approach to “the methodical turn-around of a failing business”.

“When a company is failing – when spending is rising, sales are falling and debt is mounting – you need someone to come in with energy, ideas and vision and take a series of logical steps,” he argued.

The coalition’s emergency Budget anticipated government departments’ annual budgets will be slashed by 25%, with only international aid and the NHS protected.

This weekend’s row over the future of the UK Film Council, which is earmarked for closure in a decision angrily opposed by senior arts figures, looks set to be repeated again and again elsewhere, Mr Cameron anticipates.

“Even with reform, the truth is there will be some things that we genuinely value that will have to go because of the legacy we have been left,” he wrote.

“I don’t like that any more than anyone else, but this is the reality of the situation we’re in and it’s the duty of this government to face up to it.”

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith is set to make another major step in his reform of the benefits system this week, as the coalition seeks to tackle the £5.2 billion annual cost of fraud and error.

“Many see it as a fact of British life that we have no hope of defeating,” the prime minister added.

“I passionately disagree. Simply shrugging our shoulders at benefit fraud is a luxury we can no longer afford – which is why Iain Duncan Smith is working on the radical steps we can take to deal with it.”