Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instructed his Cabinet colleagues to prepare for potential cuts to departmental budgets as part of an “efficiency” review into government spending.
The order comes ahead of the Spending Review, with fears growing that the Conservatives are planning for a return to devastating austerity in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the wider economy.
A Downing Street statement says the PM has “highlighted that departments are being asked to take part in a savings and efficiency review ahead of the Spending Review later this year.”
The statement added: “The purpose is to learn the lessons from the last year in how we can run services more efficiently and ensure that we focus our high levels of spending on our key priorities.”
“This is a standard part of the Spending Review process,” the statement reads.
It follows the Tory Chancellor’s decision to impose a public sector pay freeze, Universal Credit cuts, and tax hikes on millions of workers at the Budget in March.
Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: “It’s now beyond doubt that Boris Johnson is paving the way to impose another decade of devastating Tory austerity cuts against Scotland’s will.
“Scotland’s recovery is far too important to be left in Westminster’s hands. By voting SNP on 6th May we can put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, so we can build a strong, fair and green recovery and a more equal society.
“We all know what happened after the last economic crash. Instead of building a fairer society, the Tories imposed a decade of cuts and Brexit, pushing millions of people into poverty and causing long-term harm to Scotland’s economy.
“The Tories have already begun imposing cuts, yet again, with a public sector pay freeze, tax hikes and Universal Credit cuts at the UK Budget – hitting millions of people, and squeezing Scotland’s budget.
“Now hard-right Tory Cabinet hawks are looking to go further by cutting back our public services ‘as soon as possible’ and cementing inequality for decades to come.”