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Osborne targets regular surplus to guard against next crisis

Chancellor George Osborne has vowed to run a regular budget surplus during times of growth as an insurance policy against future downturns. 

Speaking at the Conservative conference in Manchester today, Osborne said his focus was on paying off the national debt and securing “generous pensions” and healthcare provision.

UK Governments have only run surpluses in seven out of the last 50 years, including three years under the last Labour Government from 1998-99 to 2000-01.

Osborne said he could not rule out tax rises but aimed to reduce the deficit after 2015 using only spending cuts.

He said: “Surely the lesson of the last decade is that it’s not enough to clean up the mess after it’s happened? You’ve got to take action before it happens. It should be obvious to anyone that in the years running up to the crash this country should have been running a budget surplus.

“That’s what we mean when we say they didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining. Let us never make that mistake again. Never again should anyone doing my job be so foolish, so deluded, as to believe that they have abolished the age-old cycle of boom and bust.

“So I can tell you today that when we’ve dealt with Labour’s deficit, we will have a surplus in good times as insurance against difficult times ahead. Provided the recovery is sustained, our goal is to achieve surplus in the next parliament. That will bear down on our debts and prepare us for the next rainy day.”

Osborne also unveiled a new Help to Work scheme to force those claiming job seeker’s allowance to do community service in order to collect payments.

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