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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Government spending review: Your reaction
Education funding will increase to 58bn as part of chancellor Gordon Brown's spending plans for the next three years.

Mr Brown also announced rises in the budgets for defence, transport, overseas aid, farming and science.

Tony Blair said a 90bn increase in public spending was vital for a strong UK.

But Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said that the increase in spending would not mean improved public services unless it came with wholesale reform.

What's your reaction to the spending review? What should Mr Brown's priorities be?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Public spending increases will keep the economy going

Randy, UK
Most of the responses indicate a sad lack of economics education and awareness. If we are entering a recession, then more spending, not less is required. Public spending increases will keep the economy going, will keep people in gainful employment, will reduce benefit pay-outs and increase tax revenues.
Randy, UK

The Tories say this is throwing more money at public services without any radical reform. Forgive me, but I recall that these increases are linked to reform. The Tories keep banging on about reform but never actually spell out what they mean. It is no use them saying they will present their policies before the next election. If they are so sure that reforms are necessary they must know what needs to be done. The lack of any clear answers can mean one of two things. Either they are planning to privatise the services and are keeping quiet or they really haven't a clue. Until we know what they would do, to coin a phrase, it's all spin and no substance!
Peter Haymes, UK

I wonder if the complainers and the "this is the last chance for the government" merchants realise the implications of what they're saying? If this really IS the last chance for a government which has only been spending for three years (remember, they kept to the Tories spending plans for their first two years, as promised) then the short-termists win yet again. The Tories got 18 years last time and basically left our public services in a mess; neither they, or it seems anyone else, is likely to be given as long again because we're all too damn selfish and impatient. But then again the complete collapse of public services is probably what some people want.
Steve, UK

The public sector and the people who work in it are incapable of efficiency.

Stephen Wilson, UK
90% of the extra money will go straight down the toilet. The public sector and the people who work in it are incapable of efficiency. The whole culture is based on doing as little as possible as often as possible. Public sector senior management are commercially naive in the extreme. I have seen this breathtaking wastefulness first hand. All Gordon Brown has achieved is raising taxes so that the public sector can waste even more resources. Reform will never happen - there are too many people resisting it since efficiency is not in their interest.
Stephen Wilson, UK

When I was born, it was in a NHS hospital, free of charge. Later on, when I had health problems, even needing an operation, it was provided free of charge. Likewise my education, from infant school through to university, all taken care of by the state. When I was unemployed, during the Thatcher years, at least my rent was paid and I had some money for essentials, thanks to the state. Now I'm in a position to pay back and do I begrudge it? No, not a penny.
Sarah J, England

I am absolutely delighted with Brown's plans. This is what the Government has been working towards. Especially glad to see the increase in money for Overseas development, and education.
David, UK

This is the last chance saloon for the government. If this doesn't work, and we don't see big improvements in services, they can expect to be voted out at the next election. They have no more ideas as far as I can see. I am not confident that throwing cash at problems, with loads of dubious 'targets' will work, but they will get a couple of years grace from the voters, then if it has failed it's bye bye Tony.
Jon Cooper, UK

The alternatives to Gordon Brown's programme will not address the big issues

Robert Crosby, Nottingham
Many of the contributors here who moan and whinge about "tax and spend" have still to grasp just what dire straits the Tories left our public services in and what is required to improve them. The alternatives to Gordon Brown's programme (a Tory government or a coalition involving the "all things to all people" Liberal Democrats) will not address the big issues and don't bear thinking about!
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK

Here we go - tax and spend, just at the time when a recession is looming and the stock markets have been at their lowest for several years. But still, as long as MPs have their generous pensions and large pay rises, why should they bother worrying about the rest of us?
Hugh, UK

The increase in funding to schools is definitely a step in the right direction, but if the public matched the increased funding with their own commitment to support the education system, many of the issues could be addressed and solved in a very short space of time. Get involved with your school, help whatever way you can. Its not just money schools need. its support and involvement from the communities they are doing their utmost to serve.
Colin R, UK

I think this is the moment the Tories have been waiting for. If, as Andrew Marr points out, the electorate do not see significant improvements in all aspects of the public sector over the next few years then we will be forced to consider a sea change to the way in which we fund our essential services. I for one think Browns heroic spending plans are doomed to failure.
Charlie, UK

They should admit that they are just tinkering at the edges

Mark, UK
50,000 or 150,000 per school is not going to make a lot of difference. An average secondary school has a budget of about 4million. This announcement amounts to 3.75%. What is needed are major funding changes, 15% - 25% maybe. Until the government can find a way to do this, they should admit that they are just tinkering at the edges.
Mark, UK

I don't understand why he is spending so much money which will require further tax increases when it is quite clearly a gamble. Perhaps he needs to see Gamblers Anonymous to work out why he is continually gambling and not spending the money wisely?
David, England

Almost daily we're bombarded with more announcements and incentives. Think about it, though - where will the cash go? Of course, it'll be spent on the task of monitoring progress that all the increases are conditional upon (an expensive business, after all). Little or none will translate into improvements in NHS, education, and whatever other headline acts have been graced by the Chancellor's generosity at this particular point in time.
Paul Rowlands, UK

Tax me more, and I'll stop spending; it's that simple. If there are more like me, don't expect the economy to grow, Mr Brown.
Dave Milne, Scotland

I'm concerned about 16-19 year-olds still in education receiving a pay-off of up to 1,500 a year. This is approximately 50% of the living costs for undergraduates, yet they don't get such financial incentives direct from the government!
Sal, Scotland

Excellent news for our armed forces

Craig Watson, HM Forces overseas
Today's review is excellent news for our armed forces. Despite the pressures of ever increasing commitments and decreasing budgets, our service personnel have performed with distinction all over the world, saving the lives of thousands of people in many situations. This extra money will allow them to continue serving their country to the very best of their ability and to be a real force for stability in the world.
Craig Watson, HM Forces overseas

I am a cadet and think that there's not a lot of money going in to the army. The cadets get our money from the Territorial Army's budget. Gordon Brown said the children of Great Britain today make 20% of now but 100% of the future so I think the army cadet force should get some of the money set in the budget for youth organisations because we are a youth organisation.
Staurt Chaloner (cadet), England

Through his prudence and cleverness Gordon Brown has amassed a tidy sum. I'm not hopeful this extra spending money will achieve the results we all want. The more of our money the government returns to us, the more reform and accountability measures are demanded. Our education and health systems are groaning and already close to paralysis induced by Whitehall mandated paperwork. I believe it will prove impossible to attract the missing workers so desperately needed.
Paul Padley, UK

This is not a real commitment

Nigel, Ex-pat in Australia
This is only a review, not a real commitment. It's a bit like having a wish list for Christmas - you might get the presents you want, or you may end up with another pair of horrible socks. Gordon Brown's wish list will be influenced by economic circumstances, opinion polls and the proximity to a general election.
Nigel, Ex-pat in Australia

I am disappointed to see 5.5 billion of national taxes being used to prop up London house prices. This is using our money to line the pockets of London and south east property owners. This money should be raised at a local level, and distributed accordingly. This may be of little interest to most Londoners, but in most other places our key workers can live near their work. Perhaps the government can try telling residents in parts of Salford and Newcastle that house prices are too high.
Tony Bastin, Leeds, England

I welcome the chancellor's announcements and the straightforward and honest way in which it is presented. This is in sharp contrast with the Conservatives who refuse to say what their policy is on the public services. The Conservatives were never in the position to invest much in public services because of their economic mismanagement.
Marc, Sweden, formerly UK

Today's announcement has done nothing to stop my daily effort to get another job outside of academia Much of this is welcome; however my biggest disappointment is that universities and FE colleges get missed out. Without a lot of cash to upgrade libraries and facilities, new students get a poor deal. Then again, without substantial improvements in pay for staff at all levels, there will be no-one left to do the teaching anyway.
Matthew Salter, UK

We refuse to invest in the future

Simon, UK
Moan, moan, moan - we've got very low unemployment, very low interest rates, falling crime rates, and most of middle England (of which I'm probably part) is sitting on gold mines in the form of our homes! Yet we refuse to invest in the future. Investing in education is vital for the UK. What most of the people posting seem to want is a bit more luxury for themselves at everyone else's expense!
Simon, UK

Fine, if it's real. But the last time this government promised money for schools, it finally emerged that it had all been promised before, was included in existing budgets and amounted to nothing but a load of spin. If this is real I welcome it but only if...
Kathy, UK

More money for the police will not reduce the number of criminals. More money for hospitals does not mean we will be a healthier nation. Solving problems requires changing attitudes and it is no use throwing more funds at public services if the fundamental problems in society are not addressed.
S Smith, UK

Parents should pay more towards the cost of education, not the rest of us. Maybe it's time middle England had a revolt against our Labour government's lies.
Jo, UK

So Jo, UK thinks it unfair that that non-parents should pay for education. I take it that she didn't go to school herself then?
Mal Lansell, England

Jo, UK - parents give up a lot to bring up children. I don't know what has made you so bitter, but what you must remember is that these children will be funding your pensions etc when you are old!
Martin, UK

The plans put little value on older people

Lynn Ward, England
The spending plans put precious little value on older people. I have heard officials talk about how much of their own money the elderly should be allowed to keep. There seems to be an assumption that the elderly and disabled should be grateful for being 'allowed' an income of 25% above income support. Contrast this with the proposals to pay children to remain at school - words almost fail me!
Lynn Ward, England

It is interesting that we are following a policy on the NHS shunned by every other industrialised country. Public sector inflation is already surging and let's see how many Labour MPs have outside interests in companies that supply the NHS. I fear more wasted resources and you can just sense the government itching to raise more revenue at every available opportunity.

How dare they spend 4.9 billion of our money on overseas aid when there is so much wrong in this country? Crime figures through the roof, kids sharing text books, waiting lists etc etc. I give to charity when I can afford to - this government cannot afford it.
Chris, UK

Gordon Brown has today revealed just what the government thinks of public services. It demands better results without the funding necessary to achieve them. Instead of rewarding public service workers with a decent pay structure, it will impose targets which must be met to receive increased funding otherwise they will be taken over. This government has just signed its death note.
Paul Jonas, UK

There can never be too much money spent public services

Matt, Brit living in USA
At last - the much needed cash injection to make living in the UK a much more appealing place. There can never be too much money spent on education, health, the police, armed forces and other essential public services. Who knows - if it's spent properly, I might even decide to return in a few years.
Matt, Brit living in USA

This government has taken more of our money than ever before and for what? Bigger class sizes, longer waiting lists and massive defence cuts. Oh but MPs and civil servants are getting nicer pensions. Where has it gone Gordon? Are you doing an Enron?
Simon, UK

There needs to be far greater accountability

Ian Scott, UK
We all have to pay tax - there is no real choice for the majority. The public authorities that we pay for are still not adequately efficient or professional. There needs to be far greater accountability - the Local Government Ombudsman is weak and ineffective and the individual member of the public has little recourse against them.
Ian Scott, UK

Once again it looks like the old political chestnuts are to get more money. However further education colleges are cash strapped to the extent that most are in the red yet we are still having our incomes cut. Whilst the Government's aim is to increase the number of students, why continue to reduce funding both to the education establishments and to the students?
Andy Gardiner, UK

Brown has taxed us far more than any Tory government has ever done. Maybe better management of the monies they do collect would be a good start.

Scrap PPP for the tube

Ken, England
As well as crime, they can go one better than Network Rail and scrap PPP for the tube. Better to buy those companies out of their contracts now than take a chance on tube disasters in the next 30 years.
Ken, England

Government spending plans were based on a buoyant stock market, high growth economy and full employment. If they can pull it round, deliver services and come half way to their promises I will eat my best bowler.
Richard Hough, UK

With all the public concern on the NHS and education I hope the government doesn't take even more money away from our hard-pressed forces after such an amazing job in the last 12 months. They are already going into dangerous situations with badly designed and poorly maintained kit simply because the money isn't there. Lives will be lost if budgets are cut even more
Bob, England

You can pay a lot more without getting better services

Ben, England
The government says we need to pay much more to get better public services. Maybe. What is certainly true, however, is that you can pay a lot more without getting better services. Over the last five years, government spending has risen by 7% a year in cash terms, with taxes going up even faster. But in real terms the actual provision of public services, as measured by official statisticians, has only risen by 2% a year, with the rest going into higher public sector wages and big increases in benefits.
Ben, England

Scrap the Innovation Unit. Do we need to fund the salaries of public servants who get paid to dream up new ways of charging for public services?
Alex, UK

Crime is a big factor - so employ more admin staff at police stations and relieve the police of the paperwork, so that they can get out and do their job. Transport is too expensive, tubes and BR prices do not make economic sense for people not to drive - address this and you won't need congestion charges. Instead of using interest rates to control the economy, if Labour are keen to join the euro - drop interest rates and let industry compete, allowing the pound to fall and put up stamp duty dramatically to control the overheated, unsustainable housing price boom.
Don, England

Most people seem to want good public services but don't want to pay the tax. You cannot have it both ways! We have the transport system, education and crime we deserve. The government should not be afraid to nationalise where it is needed, even if it offends the "middle classes", and similarly it should not be afraid to increase police presence on our streets...
Phil, UK

I have the joy of giving 40% of my hard earned wages to the government and what do I get back? Nothing. The NHS is a black hole which they need to reform to get it to work, transport in London is in dire need of investment in new roads, tubes and rail. Crime is far too high.
George, London, England

Begin by spending money on things that are important to the nation

Stephen G, Newcastle, UK
I just wish that Mr Blair would do what he promised and make this a people's parliament. The chancellor should begin by spending money on things that are important to the nation and not just a few out of touch individuals.
Stephen G, Newcastle, UK

As a middle class higher rate taxpayer I'd like to see something that benefits me for a change. I am sick and tired of subsidising the indolent lifestyles of work shy scroungers and benefit cheats. It is about time that the people who pay the bulk of this country's taxes actually saw something for their money.
Tom, UK

Tom, UK: The only middle class taxpayers who get anything out of this government work in Westminster.
Frank, England

This government has already had five years to raise the quality of public services and has notably failed in almost every case despite raising taxes every year. I think most of the electorate, like myself, are fed up with promises. It's time for a change.
Edwin, Britain

Stop taxing us

Phil, UK
Since whatever he spends it on seems to be a waste I think he should stop taxing us in the first place.
Phil, UK

I saw on the BBC South Today news last night that hospitals are fitting plasma TVs next to patients' beds. I do not know how much a plasma screen costs but surely taxpayers' money that goes into the NHS should be spent on getting ill people into hospitals, treating them, and then getting them out ASAP. Not providing state of the art, expensive entertainment systems.
Neil, England

The government should give us our money back and stop taxing us, seeing as the money they take from us just falls into a black hole and is never seen again. As far as I can see it isn't being effectively spent anywhere.
Gary, Wales

I currently pay the government and local council over 900 every month. I'm now being asked to pay more for my trash to be removed and in the not to distant future maybe more tax to help this government solve the ever so complex problems of education, health and transport. On top of this I'm now looking at living on the breadline after retirement. I'm not looking for anything from this government. I just want them out.
Craig, UK

Chancellor's spending review: Did he get it right?



2996 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Spending review: What are your priorities?



Fighting crime

Public transport


5770 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

The government's plans for future spending are published on 15 July

Key stories

At the sharp end



See also:

10 Jul 02 | England
10 Jul 02 | Education
10 Jul 02 | Politics
07 Jul 02 | Business
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