George Osborne today announced a benefits squeeze and a raid on the pensions of the wealthy as the economy continues to falter.
In a bleak Autumn Statement, the Chancellor said that weakening economic growth meant the era austerity would be extended for another year to 2018, well into the next parliament.
He sought to sweeten the pill, scrapping a planned 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty which had been due to come in January.
However, he was also forced to admit that the independent Office for Budget Responsibility now believed he would miss his target for debt to start falling as a proportion of GDP from 2015/16 - the year of the next general election.
Labour seized on the forecast, claiming it revealed the ''true scale of this Government's economic failure''.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls claimed the UK was ''falling behind in the global race'' as a result of Mr Osborne's management of the economy.