George Osborne has said he will reduce government spending by billions of pounds over the next four years – but has insisted it is "not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things".
The chancellor, who is preparing to announce more cuts to public spending in this week's Budget, said he wants to reduce total government spending by 0.5% by 2020 because the world's economy was in a worse state than at any time since the financial crisis.
"I need to find additional savings equivalent to 50 pence in every £100 the government spends by the end of the decade because we have got to live within our means to stay secure, and that’s the way we make Britain fit for the future," he told The Andrew Marr Show.
Depending on which measure of public expenditure is used, this could equate to spending cuts of between four and ten billion pounds by 2020.
"All around the world every western country and indeed in big emerging countries like China, Brazil, Russia, people are looking at economic prospects and thinking they are not as rosy as they were just a few months ago," Osborne insisted.
The Conservative chancellor, who will announce his third Budget in twelve months on Wednesday, said he would rather "act now rather than pay later" for a failure to reduce government spending. The chancellor is determined to run a budget deficit by the end of the decade but Britain's weak economic growth mean he will have to cut services and potentially increase taxes to achieve this.
Last week the government suggested it would change the way the Personal Independence Payment is distributed to disabled people, potentially removing hundreds of millions of pounds of welfare payments. But Osborne insisted the scheme was not being properly managed: "We are increasing spending on disabled people."
He also defended the government's controversial tax deal with Google, insisting that it was better to raise some tax from the company than none at all.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who also appeared on The Andrew Marr Show, promised a Labour government would be fiscally responsible and said his party represented "the wealth creators". But he later complained that Osborne had not appeared alongside him to discuss issues of the day on the Marr show sofa – and his staff suggested Osborne was too scared to appear alongside him.
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Jim Waterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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