Delivering the Hugo Young Lecture in London, Mr Clegg said delay on the deficit would mean greater burdens on tax payers now and in the future.
In his speech - in which he argued that progressive politics is undergoing a “period of reinvention” - he said it would not be progressive to pay off the deficit more slowly or to saddle the next generation with debt.
Mr Clegg added that the “new progressive” approach to improving equality and increasing life chances is to break down the barriers to social mobility.
Inequalities become injustices when they are fixed; passed on, generation to generation. That’s when societies become closed, stratified and divided. For old progressives, reducing snapshot income inequality is the ultimate goal. For new progressives, reducing the barriers to mobility is. This difference in approach is at the heart of many of the arguments that have taken place about the fairness of the decisions taken in the spending review.
The Deputy PM added that the ambition to improve social mobility was also at the heart of Government’s planned reforms to higher education funding. Under the reforms, many lowest income graduates will repay less than they do under the current system and universities charging the highest fees will be placed under stringent access requirements to ensure they “open their doors to the many, not just the few”.