Nick Clegg has warned there is no one “lever” that the Government can pull to generate economic growth.
The Deputy Prime Minister said ministers could not simply “churn out initiative after initiative” in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy.
He said it was essential to stick to the Government’s plans to tackle the deficit if it was to build a base for sustainable growth.
In a speech on Friday in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, he said he would not apologise for the delay in publishing the Government’s promised growth strategy until the Budget, saying it was being treated with “the utmost seriousness”.
The coalition, he said, had inherited a “failed economic model” from Labour and the country needed to “wean ourselves off debt-financed growth”.
“It is very tempting in a time of economic difficulty for governments to churn out initiative after initiative, in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy or – all too often – to try and give the appearance of doing so,” he said.
“And politicians can fall prey to the myth that somewhere there is a lever they can pull to generate growth, and that they should simply pull as many as possible in the hope of finding it.
“We have learned – the hard way – that an economy built on debt is built on sand. Right now, we are going through the sometimes painful process of unwinding a toxic legacy of personal, business and public debt. We should not fall into the trap of seeing deficit reduction and economic growth as separable. Our deficit reduction plan is a vital element in our growth plan.
“By keeping the UK out of the danger zone, and holding down the cost of borrowing, our approach is creating a stable macroeconomic platform for growth.”
Mr Clegg said that he also believed there was a “moral dimension” to tackling the deficit to ensure that future generations were not saddled with the debts of their parents. “This strikes me as little short of intergenerational theft. It is the equivalent of loading up our credit card with debt and then expecting our kids to pay it off,” he said.