Austerity is alive and well, and giving public services a kicking

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Rishi Sunak rejects comparisons between himself and George Osborne. But the view from local government is very different

There are plenty of ways to measure austerity. Before, during and after the budget this week, voters will hear Rishi Sunak herald the end of tight spending as the government builds a bridge from the pandemic to a glorious recovery.

What economists do when they want to kick the tyres on such claims is look at the Treasury’s books. They want to see whether public spending is contracting or expanding. And if there is a squeeze, we can be said to be living in a period of austerity.

Even in affluent Surrey, Tory councillors have had to cut children’s centres from 58 to 21 to balance the books

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