Hunger games: British Treasury threatens to seize funds if no cuts are made
Several government departments have failed to submit plans to
cut an additional 10 per cent from their budgets in an internal
effort to reduce wasteful expenditure, claiming the demanded cuts
are too steep, the Mail Online reported Friday.
Across Whitehall, government ministries are attempting to unload some of their expenditures by reclassifying into areas with rising budgets in a political battle that British media has dubbed ‘the Hunger Games,’ in reference to the dystopian film in which 24 young people are forced to participate in a battle to the death.
Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander is now warning the “rebel ministers” that he will remove “billions” out of their administration budgets unless they comply. That would leave the MPs unable to pay staff salaries, rental on office space and other costs.
The threat comes as departments were ordered to create plans for introducing spending cuts of 11.5 billion pounds (almost US$18 billion) by this week as the government prepares to implement a spending review for the year 2015-16 later this month.
In February, Moody’s, the rating agency, deprived Britain of its coveted AAA status over its failure to put its public finances in order.
Earlier in the week, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that some defense spending could be moved into the foreign aid budget to ease the financial burden on the military.
Cameron also signaled that food, health and education programmers could also be shifted into the Department for International Development.
The ministerial showdown has led to the creation of the so-called National Union of Ministers, which is arguing that their departments are being asked to sacrifice while other departments are exempt from the cuts.
One prominent member of the National Union of Ministers, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, has warned publicly of the consequences of deeper spending cuts.
However, when Hammond leaked plans by the Ministry of Defense to seize 200 million pounds ($311 million) from the Department of Health to cover the cost for private schooling for the children of servicemen, Cameron called on ministers to “keep their thoughts to themselves.”