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'Further 10bn welfare budget cuts needed'

In his Budget statement on Wednesday, the Chancellor George Osborne alluded to the necessity of further cuts to the welfare budget in the next spending review if other government spending was to be protected.

He warned that, if not curbed, welfare spending would consume one third of public spending within three years.

Gemma Tetlow, programme director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies' work on pensions, saving and public finances, told the Today programme's James Naughtie that the Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded their forecast for growth in the UK last November.

This would have left the forecast for borrowing much higher for the government but the chancellor signed up to some fiscal restrictions.

She said that this means that the chancellor had to pencil in extra spending cuts in 2015 and 2016 to make the numbers add up and avoid raising taxes.

Gemma Tetlow went on to say that of the £200bn annual welfare spending costs, a large chunk of this goes to benefits in state pensions which the government have "strongly indicated" they are not going to cut which leaves 55% of the total welfare budget in which to find the savings from.

In terms of where he is going to find the savings of £10bn, there are three ways he could do it: Cut rate benefits are paid at, impose more stringent criteria for those in receipt of benefits or means test welfare applicants.

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