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2014 year of 'hard truths' for British economy: Osborne

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. ©Reuters/Toby Melville Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. ©Reuters/Toby Melville
British finance minister George Osborne will warn that 2014 is to be the year of "hard truths" and public spending cuts when he sets out his plans for the year ahead on Monday, AFP reports.
He will tell an audience in central England that there is "still a long way to go" in reducing the public deficit, despite three years of austerity, according to extracts released by his office. "When I took this job, Britain was borrowing more than £400 million every single day to pay for government spending," he was to say. "But as a result of the painful cuts we've made, the deficit is down by a third, " he will add. "That's the good news. "We're borrowing around £100 billion ($163 billion, 120 billion euros) a year -- and paying half that money a year in interest just to service our debts. "We've got to make more cuts. That's why 2014 is the year of hard truths...the year when Britain faces a choice," he will caution. "There is still a long way to go -- and there are big, underlying problems we have to fix in our economy." British government borrowing in 2012/13 was equivalent to 5.2 percent of GDP, down from 7.6 percent in 2011/12, according to official statistics. He will identify the five components of his long-term economic plan as: reducing the deficit, improving education, capping welfare and reducing immigration, cutting income taxes and freezing fuel duty and providing more support for small business. Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday promised any income tax cuts would target lower income earners, and told pensioners they would continue to receive guaranteed rises in their state payouts until at least 2020 if the Conservatives win the next general election. The prime minister vowed that a Tory government would continue the "triple lock" system, meaning pensions would rise in line with the higher rate -- inflation or wages -- or 2.5 percent. "A Conservative government will offer pensioners a more secure future by pledging today that we will carry on using the triple lock after the next election to protect the basic state pension," Cameron wrote in the Sunday Times. "We can only afford to do this because we are taking difficult decisions to cut the deficit and get spending under control as part of our long-term economic plan." Cameron has already suggested that the state pension would be the only benefit exempt from a new cap on overall welfare spending. The opposition Labour party has also said it was committed to the triple lock if it wins power in 2015.
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