Its compatriots in the austerity camp are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Greece, Hungary and Romania.
Britain’s version of austerity is more aligned to the poorest nations of the European Union, according to figures from Brussels which reveal the UK was the only rich EU country to cut welfare spending as a proportion of GDP between 2011 and 2014.
France, Germany and Italy increased spending on welfare, as did the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland and Austria. Even Portugal, Spain, Slovakia and Poland marginally increased the proportion of national income they spend on welfare.
France pushed spending from 32.7% to 34.3% and Germany raised the level from 28.6% to 29.1%, while Italy managed to commit 30% in 2014 compared with 28.5% in 2011.
But the UK cut the amount it spends on what Eurostat calls social protection (as a proportion of GDP) over the four years from 29.1% to 27.4%.