The age of austerity is not just a passing phase and Britain should get used to having a ‘permanently’ smaller state, David Cameron said last night. The Prime Minister used one of his most significant speeches of the year to say that low public spending and a ‘leaner, more efficient state’ would have to be maintained permanently in order for the UK to succeed. He said the country would have to rediscover its traditional ‘buccaneering’ spirit for private enterprise in order to generate wealth instead of relying on the state. His remarks are a significant shift for a leader who said in 2010 that he ‘didn’t come into politics to make cuts’, insisting: ‘We’re tackling the deficit because we have to – not out of some ideological zeal.’
In his annual address to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall, Mr Cameron said only a smaller state and a ‘bigger and more prosperous private sector’ could heal the economy. He called for a ‘fundamental culture change in our country’ to champion ‘that typically British, entrepreneurial, buccaneering spirit, and that rewards people with the ambition to make things, sell things and create jobs for others up and down the country’.In an attempt to counter Labour’s pledge to freeze energy bills, Mr Cameron insisted the single biggest threat to the cost of living is the budget deficit and debts getting ‘out of control again’ under a government led by Ed Miliband.
‘There are some people who seem to think that the way you reduce the cost of living in this country is for the state to spend more and more taxpayers’ money,’ Mr Cameron said. ‘It’s as if somehow you measure the compassion of the government by the amount of other people’s money it can spend. At a time when family budgets are tight, it is really worth remembering that this spending comes out of the pockets of the same taxpayers whose living standards we want to see improve.’ In a reference to the leader of the Church of England, who has protested about some of the Government’s welfare cuts, Mr Cameron added:
‘I hope the Archbishop of Canterbury will forgive me for saying – it’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul, but rather robbing Peter to pay Peter.’ He said that if interest and mortgage rates started to soar because the deficit was allowed to rise again, an ‘increase in cost of living will far outweigh the impact of any increase in government spending or indeed reduction in taxation’. ‘This Government is not prepared to let that happen. Already we have cut the deficit by a third and we are sticking to the task. But that doesn’t just mean making difficult decisions on public spending.‘It also means something more profound.
It means building a leaner, more efficient state. We need to do more with less. Not just now, but permanently.’ Mr Cameron said there was growing evidence that public services could be maintained or improved as budgets are reduced. ‘There are 40 per cent fewer people working in the Department for Education – but over 3,000 more free schools and academies, with more children doing tougher subjects than ever before,’ he added. ‘There are 23,000 fewer administrative roles in the NHS – but 5,000 more doctors, with shorter waiting times.’ He claimed the reductions were proof that a leaner state could deliver better results. -Dailymail