LONDON Dec 2 British Finance Minister George
Osborne said on Sunday all Britons should be prepared to make
sacrifices to help shrink the country's debts, as he prepared to
defend his faltering austerity plan in the coming days.
Osborne is due to present his "Autumn statement" on
Wednesday - the half-yearly budget update in which he may face
the tough choice of either announcing more spending cuts or
delaying his debt target.
He is expected to defend his stringent economic policies as
the only credible way of solving the government's biggest
political problem - its failure to deliver a strong recovery.
Writing in The Sun on Sunday newspaper, the chancellor of
the Exchequer said all sectors of society needed to accept cuts
or higher taxes.
"Everyone must make a contribution to dealing with our
debts, from the richest in our society to those living a life on
benefits," he wrote.
"We are hunting down those who evade tax wherever they try
to hide. ... But we understand that fairness isn't just about
taxing the rich. It's also about ending the something for
nothing benefits culture."
British media reported on Sunday that Osborne was poised to
announce plans to cap the pension benefits of high earners
alongside reining in the welfare budget. The Treasury declined
to comment on the reports.
Other measures likely to be announced in the statement
include moves to boost Britain's fledgling shale gas industry,
Slow growth over the past two years means it will take at
least two years longer than originally planned for Osborne to
meet one of his debt-reduction goals, removing Britain's
underlying budget deficit.
But in his article, the chancellor expressed his firm
commitment to his economic policies.
"Britain is on the right track and turning back now would be
a disaster," he wrote, citing low interest rates and the
creation of 1 million private-sector jobs as examples of the
success of the government's strategy.
The failure of Prime Minister David Cameron's government to
nurse the economy back to strong growth after the financial
crisis has fueled attacks from Labour, which polls show would
regain power if an election were held now.