So, it appears fairly certain now that the Coalition Government is going to announce – sometime next year – Spending Review 2013.
But, and this is critical, Danny Alexander (Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury) seems to have said this will only be a 2 year Spending Review covering the years 2014-15 and 15-16 (interview in the Guardian).
Multi year Spending Reviews were an innovation introduced by Gordon Brown at the start of the previous Labour government. But the “cycles” of Spending Reviews have been odd, to say the least.
Here’s a list of how they’ve worked out in practice – the figures in brackets are the number of years the Reviews allegedly covered and the second number is what they actually covered (because sometimes they were ‘superseded’ by the next SR).
|Spending Review||Announced||Covering||Planned vs actual years|
|CSR 1998||July||1999-2000 to 2001-2002||
|SR 2000||July||2001-02 to 2003-04||
|SR 2002||July||2003-04 to 2005-06||
|SR 2004||July||2005-06 to 2007-08||
|CSR 2007||October||2008-09 to 2010-11||
|SR 2010||October||2011-12 to 2014-15||
|SR 2013?||July or Oct?||2014-15 to 2015-16?||
What this little table shows is that Government’s of different complexions have been more than happy to ‘juggle’ the timing of public spending plans – both their announcements and their duration – to suit political or other imperatives.
(This is something I find hard to explain to overseas audiences, who can’t believe we have such a “flexible”, and not a law based, system).
SR2013 will be “interesting to put it mildly. The challenges for the Coalition, given how badly their economic and financial plans have worked out in practice is huge. And politically, SR2013 will – whether they like it or not – be seen as part of the platforms of the two parties as the General Election looms.
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