Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has accepted that the public is "anxious" over spending cuts, as new research suggests some areas of England will be hit harder than others.
"I wish we could flick a switch and rebalance the economy overnight," he told John Humphrys, arguing that cutting spending would go hand in hand with diversifying the economy and reducing reliance on public sector jobs.
The public had "forgotten", he said, that the spending plan would be spread over four years, and the immediate effects would not be as drastic as some imagine.
"I don't think we should aggravate that anxiety and fear by pretending that there's a Sword of Damocles that will come down straight away," he said.
The cuts, he argued, would be governed by economic facts, but he accepted that it was unlikely to be a smooth ride.
"This recovery is likely to be choppy and uneven," he said.
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