UK’s Darling to cut 15 bln stg off public spending – Times

LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) – British finance minister Alistair Darling will demand public sector spending cuts worth 15 billion pounds ($22 billion) in his budget on Wednesday, the Times newspaper reported on Monday.

Darling is expected to say that a further 10 billion pounds of savings must be found in addition to the five billion already announced by his department, the newspaper said without citing sources.

Only frontline services such as education will have budgets protected, the report said. Darling is likely to cut the rate of growth in annual public spending in his budget, it added.

Other possible budget measures include a scheme that would pay motorists up to 2,000 pounds to buy a new car, a 200 million pounds boost for renewable energy projects and a pledge to underwrite 50 billion pounds worth of new mortgage-backed assets, the Times said.

Darling is also considering a 2 billion pound package to boost jobs and a 500 million increase in spending on the environment, government sources told Reuters over the weekend.

The finance minister published a video clip on YouTube over the weekend to deliver an upbeat message before his budget.

Commentators have said the budget is destined to be one of the most gloomy in decades given the economic slump and soaring public debt in Britain.

“We have got to prepare for the future, to invest in Britain’s future to ensure that we can take advantage of the upturn, the recovery, when it comes, and it will come,” he said. “I am confident about that because I think we have underlying strengths that we can play to.”

A separate report in Monday’s Financial Times said Darling will concede for the first time that the British government will not recoup the full costs of its banking interventions.

The report said the bill could be as high as 60 billion pounds. (Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Jan Dahinten)

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