Britain Shrinks Government With Big Spending Cuts About 500,000 public sector jobs could go By Nick McMaster, Newser Staff Posted Oct 20, 2010 4:13 PM CDT 53 comments Comments Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, right, with Chief Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, in London, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool) (Newser) – We already knew they were scrapping the harrier jet, but Britain's new spending cuts go much, much further than that: the government announced reductions of an average of 19% across all departments, the Christian Science Monitor reports. They add up to about $128 billion in cuts. Big hits were made to social welfare programs—with the exception of the National Health Service—and the retirement age was raised from 65 to 66. About 500,000 public-sector jobs may be cut, notes AP. In all, the nation is embarking on a grand experiment on social policy in which it uses austerity—and $45 billion in tax hikes over five years—to combat its mounting debts of $1.4 trillion. In doing so, the coalition government is tossing aside criticism from some economists that cutting back during a recession will slow the recovery and possibly start a "double-dip" slump.