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UK unveils billions in spending cuts, tax on sugary drinks

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne


Britain's Treasury chief unveiled a budget yesterday that included billions in cuts and an eye-catching levy on sugary drinks, underscoring his claim that this was a plan for the next generation.

George Osborne warned of "a dangerous cocktail of risks" as he delivered a spending plan in which Britain acts "now, so we don't pay later." He offered £ 3.5 billion ($4.9 billion) in cuts by 2020 to achieve his target of balancing the books in the face of weaker global economic growth and repeatedly insisted that he was focused on the future.

He announced changes in the school system and pledged taxes on sugar-laden sodas to cut obesity in the young, a cause championed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

"In this budget, we choose the long term," he said. "We choose

to put the next generation first."

But he was forced to acknowledge that debt would rise as a proportion of gross domestic product, missing his own target also. Growth forecasts were cut in the face of a slowdown in the broader global economy.

As a result, Osborne argued that it was a moment for caution over state finances.