A Conservative government would start cutting back on state spending immediately after taking office if it were to win this year’s general election, shadow chancellor George Osborne said.

For the first time, Mr Osborne said the Conservative Party would be ready to make in-year reductions in Labour’s £707bn spending plans for 2010-11, set out in last month’s pre-Budget report.

He named spending on advertising and consultants, tax credits for people earning more than £50,000 and child trust funds for better-off families as items that would be cut during the coming financial year.

An emergency budget as early as June could wipe out the departmental budgets outlined in Labour’s final budget just weeks earlier.

The Conservatives criticised chancellor Alistair Darling for announcing a 2 per cent real-terms increase in state spending in the pre-Budget report, rather than finding savings to start reducing Britain’s record £178bn annual deficit.

But they previously stopped short of confirming they would make early reductions to existing 2010-11 budgets if the election happened after the start of the financial year in April.

Mr Osborne made his announcement yesterday in an appearance at the London School of Economics alongside Swedish finance minister Anders Borg, the driving force behind a swift programme of cuts in the Scandinavian country’s budget in the early 1990s, when departments were required to find year-on-year savings of 11 to 12 per cent to bring down a massive state deficit.