Balls: We will examine every penny of spending

By Charles Maggs

A Labour government would introduce a spending review to assess how every penny of public money is spent, according to the shadow chancellor.

Speaking to the Guardian, Ed Balls said an incoming Labour administration would take a "root and branch approach" to spending, where they would look at where money should be spent starting from a blank sheet for every department.

"The public want to know that we are going to be ruthless and disciplined in how we go about public spending," he said.

"For a Labour government in 2015, it is quite right, and the public I think would expect this, to have a proper zero-based spending review where we say we have to justify every penny and make sure we are spending in the right way."

The review would be completed after the next general election in 2015, which may leave many questions unanswered about Labour manifesto going into 2015.

He was critical of the coalition's approach to budget cuts, saying they too need to have a "zero based budget review".

"They just came in and said 'let's go as fast as we can, and cut anything that is easy to cut out'," Balls said.

He would not comment on whether Labour would match coalition spending plans for 2015/16 to be set out in next year's spending review.

Although Labour have had consistently large poll leads of late and with the economy faltering, they are yet to regain their reputation for economic competence among many voters following the financial crisis.