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Budget lays bare full cost to public services of economic crisis

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b1754 (Published 28 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1754
  1. Nicholas Timmins
  1. 1Financial Times

    A severe and long public sector recession is in prospect in the wake of the private sector recession, as the UK government moves to pay back the mountain of debt accumulating as tax revenues fall and as it keeps up spending to combat the downturn.

    Borrowing is expected to total £348bn (€390bn; $510bn) over the next two years, three and a half times the annual cost of the NHS in England. It will have to be serviced and paid back. The return of growth will help, but a large part of the bill will have to be met by a mixture of tax rises and spending cuts.

    Cuts will be harsh. Alistair Darling, the chancellor, set out an overall freeze in public spending for the three years from April 2011, with a cash cut of a half in capital expenditure, down from £44bn this year to £22bn a year by 2013-4. Current expenditure will rise by just 0.7% in …

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