When to run the next spending review

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Olly Bartrum; Ben Paxton

May 2, 2024

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government recommends that the next government must hold an urgent spending review before a budget ‘cliff edge’.

With the UK facing levels of government spending uncertainty not seen in decades, this report warns that whoever wins the general election should launch a one-year spending round within the first few weeks of the new parliament and complete it ahead of a December 2024 spending ‘cliff edge’.

It shows how the next general election will be held closer to the point at which government departments’ budgets expire than at any time in over 40 years – potentially much closer if the general election is held in the autumn or winter. No government since at least 1998 has left it later than November to set spending plans for the following financial year.

For the next government to provide urgently-needed certainty, and to give itself flexibility, the IfG recommends that it conduct two spending reviews over its first year of the parliament: a one-year spending round to allocate budgets for 2025/26 followed by a comprehensive multi-year spending review.