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Paul Johnson hosts BBC Radio 4 series ‘The Austerity Audit’


IFS Director Paul Johnson is the host of a new BBC radio series which looks at austerity and its impact on the UK.

You can listen to the series here.

It’s ten years since George Osborne revealed the biggest cuts to government spending since the Second World War.

Now, in this post-Covid world, the government faces a new, far bigger challenge as it tries to shore up a plunging economy. In this four-part series, Paul Johnson examines a decade of austerity to ask why it happened, did it need to happen, what were the effects and what next? He talks to some of the leading players in the drama, such as Alistair Darling; former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Nick Macpherson; former minister David Gauke; and Polly Mackenzie, former policy adviser to Nick Clegg, as well as some of those directly affected.

The first programme looks at the origins of a decade of austerity, its roots in the 2008 banking crisis and the key spending reviews of 2010 and 2015 which delivered huge cuts to many government departments.

The second programme looks at the impact on austerity on the Justice Department and local government.

The third on the welfare system and education and the final programme looks at how austerity has hit the NHS and what economic options the current Chancellor Rishi Sunak faces dealing with a government deficit estimated to be £300bn.

Helping Paul Johnson is financial blogger Iona Bain, who asks how austerity has affected her generation of millennials and how the Covid crisis is going to affect the fortunes of those in currently in their 20s and 30s.