LONDON – The British government on Wednesday announced historic spending cuts, aimed at reducing the country’s deficit, that will cost the public sector half a million jobs.
The measures announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will span four years and include an average cut of 19 percent in central government departments’ budgets, an $11 billion reduction in welfare spending and an increase in the pension-eligibility age to 66. The government acknowledged that 490,000 public-sector jobs would be lost over the four years as result of the cuts.
Only the budgets for schools, the National Health Service and overseas aid were spared. Education spending is actually set to increase slightly by nearly $5 billion, despite the government scrapping a multi-billion-dollar school-buildings program. The Defense Ministry must find savings of about 8 percent, compared with the 19 percent average, but is facing a loss of 42,000 jobs over the next five years.
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