Deeper welfare cuts are "a price that works" to restore the UK economy and create more jobs, George Osborne insisted in the latest salvo of a public spat between the coalition government parties over spending plans.
The Chancellor hit back after his Liberal Democrat deputy at the Treasury Danny Alexander claimed the Tories would "inflict unnecessary pain" on the country by shrinking the state.
Speaking to BBC News, Mr Osborne said:
We are going to have to make savings... we are going to have to cut certain welfare bills like benefits that go to working-age people. But the prize is economic stability, growth, jobs in the future, brighter future, I think that's a price that works for our country.
Danny Alexander has accused the Conservative Party of "pandering to Ukip" in a pre-election "panic" as the coalition colleagues continue to trade blows.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury claimed the Tories would "inflict unnecessary pain" on the country because they were "ideologically committed" to shrinking the state and had a policy of "austerity forever".
In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he wrote: "It is sad to see the Conservatives move away from the sensible, balanced approach of the coalition, to a more doctrinaire policy that would inflict unnecessary pain on the people of Britain."
David Cameron has accused the Liberal Democrats of being "all over the place" in their economic plan, in the latest coalition division following George Osborne's Autumn Statement last week.
The Chancellor said yesterday that his Liberal Democrat colleagues would cause "economic chaos" if they came to power and today the Prime Minister emailed his party hailing a "distinctively Conservative Autumn Statement."
"The Liberal Democrats are all over the place, unable to decide whether they want to stick to the plan or veer off it," Mr Cameron wrote. "And they - like Ukip - would be prepared to prop up a failing Labour Government.
"In contrast, the Conservatives offer a long-term economic plan that is working."
Nick Clegg has hit back at claims he missed the Autumn Statement to distance himself from George Osborne's policies, saying he put himself to "much greater use elsewhere".
Clegg reiterated that he had sat "dutifully" in the Commons during Autumn Statements "for close to half a decade" and stressed he does not regret missing it "at all".
"You can't really win can you?" the Deputy Prime Minister said.
"People say politicians like me spend too much time in the Westminster bubble and then when you leave the Westminster bubble you're criticised for doing so".
Nick Clegg has accused the Conservatives of "kidding themselves" on the economy.
The Deputy Prime Minister told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that he disagreed with his coalition partner's outlook on the economy, saying their plans were "impossible."
"I just think the Conservatives are kidding themselves and seeking to kid British voters if they are claiming that it is possible to balance the books, deliver unfunded tax cuts, shrink the state and support public services," Clegg said.
"It just doesn't add up," he said following George Osborne's scathing attack on the Lib Dems.
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Nick Clegg says the Government's £15 billionn funding for road improvements is a "big moment" for the UK that will help "rebalance" the economy.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the Deputy Prime Minister said:
The funding is there and I think it will really represent a big moment, that we're not just balancing the books, which of course is essential, but we're also rebalancing the economy as a whole so that all parts of the country can be connected with each other.
So we're not just rescuing the economy, which of course has been the central mission of this parliament, but also renewing it in the next parliament and beyond.
Nick Clegg has said his Leaders Live Q&A on Tuesday 16th December will bring political debate "to where young people are already active".
The Liberal Democrat leader said:
Leaders Live is a fantastic initiative from Bite the Ballot to get young people involved in the political debate. This project will take the leaders of the main political parties to where young people are already active – through exciting new ways of communicating.