The very language of cuts has been markedly austere and depressing. It is now well established that the reductions the government will make to overall spending are actually tiny. Carving it back to around 40% of GDP by 2017 will take it to roughly the average amount the government spent under Tony Blair – hardly a radical plan.

The coming budget is the chance for George Osborne to reframe this discussion. If he can find further reductions he can create the conditions that will allow more growth in the economy – through tax cuts and more space for private enterprise. A thriving economy means more jobs, more prosperity, more opportunities for people, better education and better healthcare. Spring is a good time to send a more optimistic message for Britain’s future.

Last year, the Institute of Economic Affairs published a spending plan that included an additional £215 billion of cuts: Sharper Axes, Lower Taxes: Big Steps to a Smaller State. However, this plan involves wholesale reform of the structure of areas such as health and education. Clearly, this is not change that the Chancellor could finalise in this budget.

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Ruth Porter 154x154

Communications Director

Ruth Porter is Communications Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs. She has worked in public policy and communications for nearly a decade. During this time she has represented UK businesses working in areas including software, energy and electronics. She studied politics and philosophy at the University of Warwick before moving to New Zealand, where she worked for the independent think tank, Maxim Institute. Ruth worked on the research team looking at a wide range of issues from social policy to tax reform. She co-authored a series of reports on education that won the Innovative Projects category of the Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Awards and edited the book Pursuing social justice in New Zealand, which was launched by New Zealand's Governor-General. She has written for various publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Sunday Times, she also writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph website and is a frequent commentator in the British media on programmes such as Newsnight and Sky’s Boulton & Co.