Since being elected in May 2010, the coalition government in the United Kingdom has announced spending cuts that by 2014/15, it is estimated, will save the state £81 billion per annum. It announced the cuts in two exercises – an ‘emergency Budget’ in June 2010 and a Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010. In this paper we focus on one aspect of the cuts – those related to social security and tax credit spending. The paper examines the scale and nature of the cuts by focusing on the indexation and capping of benefits, making benefits more selective and the fate of contributory benefits in the cuts. The paper argues that the package of cuts to benefits and tax credits represents themes – constraining expenditure by restricting increases in, and the eligibility criteria for, benefits – that are familiar in social security policy. The consequence will be the long-term erosion of the scope and value of social security benefits and tax credits.