Tough Decisions

If I were given £1 for every time someone said to me "I agree we have to cut spending, but not this budget" I would be a rich man.

I believe that most people accept the need to deal with Britain's deficit.  The hard part comes when decisions have to be made about which budgets to cut.  And I fear there is a tendency always to respond: "cut something else".

If everyone said this, we wouldn't save a penny.  It's no good singling out, say, the overseas aid budget to be raided as the answer.

I strongly disagree that the poorest people in the world should be penalised, and I think we have a moral obligation to help combat starvation, disease and poverty through thick and thin.

But even if we were to cut the aid budget, that would produce a tiny fraction of the savings needed.

Equally, it's a dead end just criticising the County Council for every decision they're taking, as though they could conjure up more funds or easily cut something else.

I understand why those who work in the public sector are concerned when faced with a two year pay freeze and increases in pension contributions.

But people are living longer and pensions have to be paid for.  Is it fair that the taxpayer should pick up the whole bill when three quarters of the workforce are in the private sector?

We need to remember that people working for companies have already felt the effects of the downturn through pay freezes and job losses, and their pensions have already been altered.

That's I was so disappointed when I visited a local primary school last week to hear that the majority of teachers were preparing to strike over changes to their pensions.  Such action is inevitably unfair to children.

We can't funk the difficult decisions.  We owe it to the country and to future generations to deal with the deficit.

To those who claim there's an alternative, I say that you can see it by jumping on the train to Gatwick and flying to Lisbon, Dublin or Athens.

Their economies are in real crisis, with deeper cuts in public spending and public sector job losses forced on governments as debt mounts, investors take fright and loans can't be repaid.

In the end Britain has to live within its means.  We can't go on spending £4 for every £3 we are receiving.  And we can't keep saying: "yes, cut public spending, but not in my back yard."

Christopher N Howarth