Schools budget could face cuts as the coalition row over spending escalates
Pressure intensifies on Lib Dems to accept reductions to welfare budget in a crucial spending round after 2015 election.
The schools budget may be offered up for further cuts as the Tories intensify pressure on the Liberal Democrats to accept reductions to the £166bn welfare budget in a crucial spending round for the immediate post general election period that is due to be announced this summer.
As a group of cabinet members, known inside Whitehall as the National Union of Ministers, agitate to prevent further cuts to their departments there is growing speculation that the schools budget could be identified for cuts if it turns out welfare has to be protected.
David Cameron and George Osborne are bracing themselves for a bruising few months as ministers from both sides of the coalition embark on what one Whitehall source described as "lots of shroud waving" ahead of the forthcoming spending review.
Theresa May, the home secretary, is the leading figure in the militant group of cabinet figures agitating against further cuts as the chancellor seeks to find a further £10bn of cuts for 2015-16. Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, was the first member of the groups to break cover publicly when he said over the weekend there was a "body of opinion" in the cabinet that the welfare budget needs to be reviewed again.
Vince Cable, the business secretary, described himself on ITV News on Monday night as a member of the militants' shop steward committee when he said it was wrong to protect certain departmental budgets, such as health and international development, while offering no guarantee to others. But Cable highlighted differences between Tory and Lib Dem ministers of the militant group when he challenged Hammond's call to make further cuts to welfare and even called for tax increases to tackle the fiscal deficit.
Read more ... (The Guardian - 04 March)