Chancellor George Osborne’s latest spending review implemented welfare caps, wholesale cuts across government departments and big infrastructure spending including the “largest programme of investment in roads for 50 years and in railways since the Victorian age”.
Total government spending for 2015-16 will be £745bn, £120bn lower than if it had continue to rise at the average rate of the last three decades, Osborne said. The spending round delivers a total of £11.5bn in departmental budget reductions.
These include cuts of almost 6% at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. However the department’s capital spending was put up by 9%, while more money was pumped into apprenticeships and UK exports and £2bn was set aside for Local Enterprise Partnerships.
British Association for Print and Communication chairman Sidney Bobb said: “Osborne is making several cuts including at the business department, which isn’t helpful when you consider more people need to be doing business and trading.
“Most of the cuts are almost immediate while most of the spending is in the future. He’s not putting any money in today but in 2015 which, coincidence has it, is the year for the election.
“This is a political not an economic announcement; there is no jam today; there is no jam tomorrow, and there will be jam only when the election comes around.”
BPIF chief executive Kathy Woodward said: “The spending review was pretty much as billed, but one of the things we were particularly pleased about was the government recognised it has to keep investing in the business sector and supporting it.
“Osborne has made hard decisions: there are significant job losses in the public sector, and departmental cuts do have a negative effect on some government purchasing. So it’s important we continue to market the effectiveness of print so it’s not one of the casualties.
“Meanwhile some of the infrastructure projects, while they may not be popular with people when railway lines go through their back garden, will stimulate aspects of the economy.”
Commitment to keep investing in innovation, science and technology was a very positive sign, she said.
Woodward added: “The figures on borrowing are disappointing, but overall it’s almost as good as we could expect. It’s very important everybody within the industry keeps emphasising the need for easier financing, continued skills support and stimulus to business innovation.”