A future Labour government will not undo the hugely unpopular cuts imposed by the current coalition, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury is expected to say.
Speaking on Friday, Chris Leslie is to outline Labour’s “radical” policy plans, but will warn that the party is preparing to make some unpopular decisions and will not “be able to undo the cuts that the have been felt in recent years.”
Leslie is also expected to highlight the party’s commitment to multi-year government spending reviews, alongside greater departmental oversight, arguing that shadow chancellor Ed Balls is to “end to the one-year spending reviews recently introduced by George Osborne" in favour of long term planning.
Leslie will also highlight coalition shortcomings in regards to the closing of 14 prisons leading to a shortfall, and the resurrection of the £1.5 billion scheme to upgrade the A14.
"Ed Balls and I have concluded that a Labour Treasury will put an end to the one-year spending reviews recently introduced by George Osborne. We will instead set out Spending Review plans on a multi-year basis. And we would go further and expect departments in turn to provide public bodies and organisations under their stewardship with the same longer-term certainties, so they can make better decisions and plan for the savings they will need to make.
"As we have seen across local government and various agencies, keeping public services in the dark makes it harder to plan the fundamental reforms that ought to be addressed. There are too many instances of short-term budget decisions that cost more in the long run."
On the issue of making difficult decision should Labour come to power next year, Leslie will say: "Labour's Policy Review process will culminate at our National Policy Forum in July. Ed Balls, Jon Cruddas and I have been clear that our conclusions and agenda will be radical but suited to our times.
"So it will not be about spending commitments, but solutions that are funded, achievable and which can be delivered in office. All government departments in the next Labour government will have to face fundamental questions as never before.
"I'm not heading into this expecting popularity. Quite the opposite. We won't be able to undo the cuts that the have been felt in recent years. And I know that this will be disappointing for many people. A more limited pot of money will have to be spent on a smaller number of priorities. Lower priorities will get less.
"We are not arguing with the Government about the scale of the challenge. But we do differ significantly on the best way to confront it. George Osborne has had his five years to eradicate the deficit. I am determined that we finish that task on which he has failed.
"As last week's elections showed, the public want the realistic prospect of change, not just more of the same. And they want Labour to focus relentlessly on how it would deliver those changes. These are serious times and they demand a hard-headed approach from political parties seeking the chance to govern.
"By taking the long-term perspective and reviewing every item of government expenditure from the ground up I am confident we can get the job done."