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Since taking power the Conservatives have led a concerted attack on the welfare state

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Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

PA

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

George Osborne announced a further £25bn of cutbacks in welfare support and unprotected Government department spending.

Since taking power in 2010, the Tories have led a concerted attack on public services and the welfare state.

The Tories, in coalition, have exploited the economic and social crisis of 2008, and the resulting deficit, to drive forward an austerity agenda.

Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat coalition minister, said: "The Tories are ideologically obsessed by cuts because they see it as a way of destroying public service and the welfare state, which they detest." Tory cutbacks are having a disproportionately more negative impact in the north. Recently, DUP, Alliance and UUP politicians have blamed cuts to public services on non-implementation of welfare cuts.

They and sections of the media ignore the scale of reduction in our block grant since 2010 – slashed by £3.6bn cumulatively in the financial period 2010-15.

Current and capital departmental expenditure respectively is now £730m and £345m less than 2010 in real terms.

It is wrong to blame the escalating budget crisis hitting Executive departments and public services on the £87m fine demanded because Sinn Fein and others oppose welfare cuts.

Welfare cuts and Osborne's new £25bn cutbacks will be in addition to the existing austerity programme.

Nick Clegg (in contrast to Cable) said welfare cuts were an economic reality in the north. That is to say, the working poor and most vulnerable here are financially liable for the deficit caused by the banking crisis.

Sixteen years from the Good Friday Agreement, the poorest areas remain so. An entirely new model is needed to rebalance the economy. We are a society emerging from conflict, with a legacy of structural underinvestment and an all-island economic reality.

Those who have chosen to roll over and accept the Tory-imposed fiscal and economic status quo are avoiding the real strategic, economic and political decisions and opportunities which need to be grasped in the north.

Belfast Telegraph