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UK finance minister outlines welfare cuts

BIRMINGHAM, England--British Finance Minister George Osborne said Monday the government would cut the welfare bill by 10 billion pounds over the next year as it seeks to tame a massive deficit.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne told his center-right Conservative Party's annual conference that it was unfair that people in work should earn less than those without jobs.

He also ruled out a so-called “mansion tax” on big houses, a move favored by the Liberal Democrats, the junior partners in the coalition government, though he insisted the wealthy would continue to bear the greatest burden.

“The great bulk of savings must come from cutting government spending, not raising taxes,” Osborne told delegates in the central English city of Birmingham.

“We have to find greater savings in the welfare bill, 10 billion pounds (US$16.1 billion) of welfare savings by the first full year of the next parliament.”

Osborne indicated that young unemployed people were likely to see reduced housing benefit, while there would be other cuts across the board in Britain's welfare system.

The reductions are in addition to the 18 billion pounds in welfare cuts that are already planned by 2015 by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition.

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