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Balls promises zero-based spending review

Labour has promised a root and branch zero-based budget review if the Party was to return to Downing Street after the next election.

In an interview with the Guardian, shadow chancellor Ed Balls outlined the review, in a move to convince voters Labour would be more responsible with spending if re-elected. The review would be expected to report within a year after the election and look at the purpose and value of all public spending.

Balls said there would be three qualifications to the review; certain commitments on tax and spending, examining whether cuts would lead to higher costs in the future and a desire to reach cross-party consensus in specific areas such as social care and children in care.

He said: “The public want to know that we are going to be ruthless and disciplined in how we go about public spending. For a Labour government in 2015, it is quite right, and the public I think would expect this, to have a proper zero-based spending review where we say we have to justify every penny and make sure we are spending in the right way.

“We will need to make decisions in our manifesto on our big strategy on taxation and spending, as well as our fiscal rules.

“With zero-based budgeting you can test spending not on the basis of whether it is easy to slash, but whether it meets your priorities. We should try, in a way the coalition has failed, to face up to some of the big strategic questions in public spending.

“It allows you to look radically at public spending and test it against our objectives and priorities. It is something that governments have not done enough in the past. That does not mean that everything is up for grabs.”

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