External publications

Public spending in hard times

Date: 01 June 2009
Publisher: ESRC Public Services Programme
ISBN: 978-0-9562858-0-5

Attempts to brake or reverse the growth of public spending in the UK are not new: Adam Smith discussed the problem over 200 years ago. So what can we learn from earlier periods of restraint or cutback in public spending?

This paper briefly reviews two key historical cases, the 'Geddes Axe' era of 1920s and the 1975-1985 era which included the 1976 IMF loan and subsequent attempts to restrain public spending under both Labour and Conservative governments. It also analyzes public spending in relation to the economic cycle over the last 60 years.