Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Region Faces Years of Pain as Cameron Warns of Action to Tackle Britain's Pounds 770bn Debt

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Region Faces Years of Pain as Cameron Warns of Action to Tackle Britain's Pounds 770bn Debt

Article excerpt

THE North East faces years of pain after David Cameron yesterday warned action to tackle Britain's pounds 770bn debt would change everyone's way of life.

The Prime Minister claimed the problem was worse than expected and the size of the public sector had "got way out of step" as he prepared voters for a tough emergency budget on June 22.

He promised cuts would unite the country, echoing comments made by his Liberal Democrat deputy Nick Clegg at the weekend that the Government's plans would not mark a return to Thatcherism. The coalition Government has already announced pounds 6.2bn of cuts this year, but added that a crackdown on public sector pay and jobs and benefits could be on the way.

Restrictions on child tax credits for more well-off families, a hike in VAT and rise in capital gains tax could also be unveiled.

Labour MPs warned the region faces being hit hard with around one in three workers employed by the state. Shadow chancellor Alistair Darling said Mr Cameron and the Tories were using excuses to cover cuts they had always wanted to make. He said: "There's absolutely nothing now that people didn't know when I made my Budget statement in March. To somehow claim that he's opened the books and found things worse than he thought, that's nonsense.

"This is a classic case of the new Government blaming the last government in order to pave the way for things the Tories had always wanted to do, this time getting the Liberals to front it up for them."

Sir Alan Beith, Lib Dem MP for Berwick, said: "I welcome the recognition by David Cameron and Nick Clegg that the North East has particular problems, and any decision on cuts must take into account the time that will be needed to expand the private sector so that we are less dependent on public sector jobs."

The Prime Minister accused Labour of "reckless" spending and allowing a "public sector boom and private sector bust" with those employed by the state shielded from job losses and pay cuts thanks to a pounds 120bn splurge by Labour since 2007. …

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