After six years of the economy in the “safe hands” of a Conservative-led government, the national debt has risen to its highest level since the 1960s, when the UK was paying off its debts from two world wars.
Since 2010, the years of austerity under David Cameron caused the public debt to swell to £1.6 trillion, equal to 83.3% of total GDP. The last time the debt was at this level, the UK was in the midst of paying of debts accumulated in fighting two world wars, and the debt was rapidly falling year on year.
Former chancellor George Osborne argued that difficult cuts to public services were needed to bring the budget deficit down and get the national debt under control by 2020 – fixing the so-called fiscal “roof”. The Conservatives offering “safe hands” with the economy was the central tenet of their two election victories.
Despite these cuts, which have left services including the NHS in crisis, the year to September saw the deficit rise to £10.6bn, a figure £1.3bn higher than the year before.
Further cuts are slated to hit Universal Credit over coming years, but new Chancellor Philip Hammond has already indicated that the government would drop Osborne’s targets completely, causing many to ask whether the cuts were anything more than ideological.