June 25 - British finance minister George Osborne has unveilled a new round of spending cuts, but has promised to pump some of the savings straight back into the economy to counter charges of excessive austerity. (ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION)
(ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION) In a speech to parliament interrupted by periodic jibes from opposition Labour party lawmakers, Osborne spelled out 11.5 billion pounds ($17.8 billion) in cuts for the 2015/16 fiscal year. Local government budgets were among those hardest hit, while 3 billion pounds was earmarked for spending on affordable housing projects. Spending on international aid, health and education was protected. The debate over the cuts, which will take effect just weeks before a general election, sketches out the economic battle lines for a campaign in which the health of the economy will be decisive. Earlier on Wednesday, Labour party leader Ed Miliband had criticised the need for further cuts, highlighting Osborne's 2010 pledge to eliminate the budget deficit by 2015. The latest official forecasts show that by 2017/18 Britain will still be spending 2.3 percent of its gross economic product (GDP) more than it recoups in tax.