Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that there could be further spending cuts as the government struggles to find an extra £16 billion in savings in the final year of parliament, on top of the billions of cuts already planned to try and deal with the growing budget deficit.
On the first day of the Tory party conference Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out plans for a 'mansion tax' but insisted the rich would play their part in paying back the deficit, promising "further action" to ensure the rich "pay their fair share."
Cameron said the Government would have to find further "spending reductions". He told the Andrew Marr show:
We have to find these spending reductions and if we want to avoid cuts in things like hospitals and schools - services that we all rely on - we have to look at things like the welfare budget.
ITV News's political correspondent Libby Wiener reports from the Conservative party conference in Birmingham.
A aide said the government was paving the way for the next phase of austerity rather than signalling bigger than planned measures, but economists say longer or deeper cuts look likely after a return to recession cast doubt over its deficit targets.
The next election in 2015 will be fought on the economy and how best to get the deficit, which peaked at 11 percent of the nation's annual economic output, under control.
Cameron's Conservative-led coalition planned to all but erase the deficit by 2015 but has been forced to project two more years of cuts.
Underlying borrowing between April and August was a fifth higher than last year, suggesting that either bigger cuts or a further extension of austerity could be on the cards when the government updates its economic forecasts on December 5.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Cameron said the deficit was down:
We inherited a budget deficit at around 11 percent, it is down to 8 percent.
Referring to this year, he added: "It is too early to say where they will end up."
Official figures in March predicted a fall to below 6 percent this year, a target which now looks uncertain.
Finance minister George Osborne told the Mail on Sunday:
The economy is healing. But it's a longer and harder road that we have to travel down. There will have to be further cuts.