By Jonathan Davies
The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that the government will have to implement "colossal" spending cuts to achieve the plans set out by the Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement.
In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor said the UK would be running a surplus by 2019-20. And the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said that public spending would fall from £5,650 per head in 2009-10 to £3,880 in 2019-20.
The IFS said £35bn had already been cut, with £55bn worth of spending cuts still needed.
The IFS figures suggest that if spending cuts continued at their current rate, £21bn would need to recouped through welfare cuts or tax rises. But the government is committed to £7bn worth of tax cuts.
IFS director Paul Johnson said:"One thing is for sure - if we move in anything like this direction, whilst continuing to protect health and pensions, the role and shape of the state will have changed beyond recognition."
The IFS added to various forecasters in predicting huge spending cuts. Reacting to the suggestions, George Osborne told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I would have thought the BBC had learnt from the last four years that its totally hyperbolic coverage of spending cuts has not been matched by what's actually happened in our country."
"I had all that when you were interviewing me four years ago and has the world fallen in? No it hasn't."
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