One question being constantly put to the Coalition government is what’s plan B? The Spending Review plans are massively ambitious not just in reducing public spending but also in setting out plans for most of public spending up to 2014-15. What happens if things change, or this doesn’t work?
Spending Review 2010 is a four year plan, one year longer than anything Labour attempted, and two years longer than most of Labour’s plans lasted.
Rumours suggest that the answer will be Spending Review 2012. They suggest that the government will revert to New Labour’s two-year cycle, giving them the opportunity to adjust plans in two years time depending on how things are going.
If this was done, it would also mean they could hold another Review in July 2014, meaning they could set out new plans before the planned General Election in May. The Coalition hopes that SR 2014 could be a ‘good news’ Review.
This is, I must stress, just a rumor and I haven’t yet been able to definitively confirm it but it certainly makes sense from their perspective. It would explain why they won’t answer the question – they’d following New Labour’s lead in being totally secretive about when and if they will conduct Spending Reviews. Plus ca change.
The political ramifications of this scheme, if it does happen, are interesting. It would mean the Coalition – if it lasts that long – would in effect be composing a joint manifesto in SR 2014. Alternatively, there’s always the possibility that by then they won’t be able to reach agreement. Either way it would be a major landmark.