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Cable: Osborne's spending plans would be devastating

George Osborne's plans to cut public spending to reduce the deficit would be "devastating" for the UK, Business Secretary Vince Cable has claimed.

Business Secretary Vince Cable. Credit: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

Describing the Chancellor's plans announced in the Autumn Statement as "ideologically driven", Mr Cable said the police, armed forces and social care would be severely hit by the proposals.

The Business Secretary said he would "really worry" if the spending plans in the next parliament were realised.

Mr Cable told the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show that the Liberal Democrats had kept the Conservatives on a "tight leash" and they had been "well behaved" while in coalition, but were now promoting "extremes" ahead of next year's general election.

Responding to Tory accusations that the Liberal Democrat's plans would leave the country in chaos, Cable said: "We are committed to financial discipline, but we're not veering off to the extreme ideology that the Tories seem to want."

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Vince Cable accuses Royal Mail of 'scaremongering'

Business Secretary Vince Cable has accused the boss of Royal Mail of "scaremongering" in claiming the universal post service is under threat.

Chief executive Moya Greene has warned that the high cost of the service, which ensures a same-price delivery for letters anywhere in the UK, six days a week, is not sustainable in the face of competition in high-density, low-cost areas.

ITV News business editor Joel Hills reports:

Royal Mail is ‘wrong’ to scare public over universal service

Business Secretary Vince Cable has criticised Royal Mail bosses for “scaremongering” by indicating universal service may be under threat.

He said he felt it was "wrong" of chief executive Moya Greene to suggest it is.

He said a lot of people “depend” on the Royal Mail and the regular delivery it provides, particularly in remote areas, and he said they should not be made to feel insecure.

I think it’s wrong to scare the public.

The universal service obligation is absolutely clear, it’s protected in law by Parliament, it’s not going to change.

I think a bit of scaremongering is going on and it’s not healthy.

– Vince Cable, Business Secretary

Cable: Email is the biggest competition for Royal Mail

The privatisation of Royal Mail has gone “admirably” but the biggest competition to business was always going to be the ever-growing popularity of email, Vince Cable has said.

The Business Secretary told ITV News that the major objective of privatisation had been to allow Royal Mail to go out and compete and raise money on the open market for investment, which it had – raising £500 million to date.

But, he said, they were always going to have to compete with e-mail, which was replacing much of its traditional custom, on top of having to compete with other mail carriers.

Cable accuses Royal Mail bosses of 'scaremongering'

Business secretary Vince Cable has accused Royal Mail bosses of "scaremongering" by claiming the universal service is under threat.

He told ITV News the universal service obligation - which ensures people can send post anywhere in the UK for the same fixed price - is enshrined in law and will not be rescinded.

He said were it to be overturned, both Houses of Parliament would have to vote to do so - which, he added, is not going to happen.

It comes after Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene warned that increasing competition in high density, low cost areas was threatening the universal service by making delivering to rural and remote areas not economically viable.

Mr Cable said Royal Mail, now it is only 30 per cent owned by the taxpayer, was free to raise capital privately - and said it had already raised £500 million to invest and compete.

He said the government did not want to see companies "whinging" about having to operate in a competitive market.

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Cable: Royal Mail is 'scaremongering' and 'whinging'

Business Secretary Vince Cable has accused Royal Mail of "scaremongering" over warnings it may not be able to continue with its universal service.

Mr Cable told ITV News that chief executive Moya Greene's comments amounted to "special pleading" - and said the government did not want companies "whinging" about being in a competitive market.

ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills tweeted:

Royal Mail warns more competition 'undermines' service

Royal Mail bosses today issued a warning that giving people more choice between delivery services was threatening the future of the universal service, which guarantees that letters can be delivered anywhere in the country for the same price.

Royal Mail bosses have warned against allowing 'cherry picking' between competitors Credit: PA

Chief executive Moya Greene told a committee of MPs that the high cost of the universal service obligation – around £7.2 billion a year – was in part because of the difficulties of delivering to rural and remote parts of the country.

Delivering to high-density areas such as the inner city was much lower cost and helped to subsidise these deliveries – but by allowing these customers to “cherry pick”between Royal Mail and their competitors the system was unsustainable.

Lib Dems debate banning schools' faith selection

Business Secretary Vince Cable and Justice Minister Simon Hughes have urged Liberal Democrat activists to reject a proposal to ban new state schools from selecting children on the basis of their faith.

The measure was put forward by former MP Evan Harris as an amendment to the party's equalities policy paper.

Delegates during day three of the Liberal Democrats annual conference in Glasgow. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

It also calls for the immediate phasing out of state-funded faith schools over a period of five years and a repeal of the current legal requirement for all state-funded schools to hold acts of collective worship and for non-religious schools to hold acts of worship of a broadly Christian character.

Cable said Harris' proposal risked "really serious harm" and dismissed the idea that not having faith schools encouraged religious tolerance.

Cable to launch plans to give apprentices extra £1 an hour

Vince Cable will set out plans to give apprentices an extra £1 an hour and give up to one million workers new employment rights.

The Business Secretary will ask the Low Pay Commission to bring the £2.73 hourly rate for young people training for work into line with the pay with the £3.79 earned by 16 to 17-year-olds.

Cable to launch plans to give apprentices extra £1 an hour Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

He is also launching a review of employment laws that could see people on "worker" contracts, such as zero hour terms, be given the same rights as most employees. That could mean extending maternity and paternity leave as well as giving workers the right to take employers to an unfair dismissal tribunal. Mr Cable said:

Workers should not be finding out that they are not protected by law once they get to employment tribunal. Businesses should feel more confidence knowing what type of contracts to hire staff on. As the economy recovers, it is right to give a silent minority of workers, who currently have fewer employment rights, the security enjoyed by a majority of employees.

– Vince Cable
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