Chancellor unleashes drastic cuts in spending review

GEORGE Osborne today ushered in an era of austerity as he announced half a million public sector jobs would go and �7billion of savings to the welfare system.

The Chancellor unveiled drastic measures designed to force people off sickness benefit after a year, cut council budgets by 7.1 per cent in the next four years and raise the state pension age to 66 by 2020.

The coalition government also confirmed plans to replace benefits by a single universal credit, abolish child credits for high earners and splash �900million to implement a �5billion benefit waste clampdown.

The �83billion savings will also see police spending fall by four per cent, Home Office budgets by six per cent a year and the Ministry of Justice cut legal aid.

Mr Osborne said the austerity budget would ensure the “financial catastrophe” of the previous government “never ever happens again”, restore order to public finances and pull the country back from the brink of bankruptcy.

It was unclear today exactly where the axe would fall in Barking and Dagenham but public sector union Unison expected a major surge in membership applications.

Barking and Dagenham Council slammed the review saying officers’ “worst fears” had been confirmed today.

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Labour leader Cllr Liam Smith said: “We will do our utmost to protect local services to the people of the borough, especially the vulnerable, but we cannot pretend that cuts on this scale will not hurt.”