Osborne’s aim to eliminate the deficit by 2019 rely on getting through cuts of more than £30bn in the first few years of the next government. Osborne insists that this won’t require cuts any more severe than those enacted under the coalition government, but making that maths work relies on recouping an additional £5bn from tackling tax evasion, and then saving a further £12bn from the welfare budget.
The Guardian article goes on to say that "finding £12bn from already squeezed welfare budgets will be extremely difficult".
The cartoon shows George Osborne as a barber wielding a cut-throat razor and a pair of scissors. He tells the customer, who has very little hair left to cut and whose head is covered in sticking plasters, "Just another close shave and a little off the back and sides." Above the customer's head hangs a giant sword marked 'Welfare Cuts'.
The customer clearly represents the long-suffering British people (hence the Union Jack cape). Usually, the barber asks the customer how he would like his hair cut, but in this case, Osborne gives him no choice. The sword is the Sword of Damocles, and the red case on the right is the budget box, which is traditionally held up for a photoshoot outside 11 Downing Street, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces his annual budget plans.
1. If you give someone a close shave, you give them a shave in which the hair is cut very short. However, there's a play on words because a close shave is also a situation where something unpleasant or dangerous nearly happens. • I had a close shave when a tree fell just where I had been standing.
2. 'A little off the back and sides' is another hairdresser cliché. You can find more expressions commonly used at the hairdresser's here, here, and here.