chapter  4
The reduction of the UK budget deficit: a human rights perspective
Pages 14

In the UK general election of May 2010, no political party won an outright majority of seats in the House of Commons, and a coalition government was formed between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer being from the Conservative Party. The coalition government introduced a so-called ‘emergency’ budget in June 2010 that set out a strategy for rapid reduction of the UK budget deficit.1 Reductions in expenditure were to achieve 77% of the proposed fiscal consolidation, and rises in tax revenue 23%. It was proposed to maintain real expenditure on the National Health Service and international aid, implying an average real cut of 25% over four years for the other government departments. An increase in income tax rates for the well-off, introduced by the previous (Labour) government was to be retained: at the same time, income tax thresholds would be increased, reducing the tax contribution of lower paid workers.2 Value added tax would be increased. The Chancellor claimed that this strategy would lead to an increase in the rate of economic growth from 1.2% in 2010 to 2.9% in 2013. This drastic plan was described by the Chancellor in his budget speech as ‘unavoidable’ in order to earn ‘credibility in international markets’.