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30.05.17

Consequences of policy promises not clear to voters, IFS experts find

Both the Conservatives and Labour are failing to clearly explain to voters what consequences their public spending policies will have on the country, an analysis has today warned.

It comes from financial experts at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, who say that both parties have not done enough to be transparent with the public to spell out what their policy proposals really mean for the country.

In its analysis, the IFS also stated that the parties offer two distinct choices for spending and tax, but that work is needed to explain the consequences of these policies to the public.

With regards to tax, the Conservatives are proposing to raise the income tax personal allowance to £12,500 to save 24 million basic rate tax payers money from their pay check, although this only amounts to them being £33 better off a year.

Labour, on the other hand, has proposed ambitious changes for tax. Jeremy Corbyn’s party has said it will raise £49bn a year from raising corporation tax and income tax for higher earners. Despite this, his proposals would still mean the UK’s headline rate would be the lowest in the G7.

The IFS also described Tory plans for NHS spending as “very tight indeed, and may well be undeliverable”. The party is looking to increase spending by £8bn in real terms over five years, whilst Labour has promised to spend more (2.0% growth per year), something that, again, the IFS research has argued looks difficult to accomplish.

Last week, the IFS also slammed Conservative plans for education spending, which it claimed would take school funding back to its 2010 level.

Before that, its experts had warned that Labour’s policies to invest heavily in schools would be difficult to finance and deliver.

And it also argued that Tory plans to cap public sector pay at 1% was sure to seriously exacerbate already difficult recruitment issues.

Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said: “In one sense the two main parties have rarely offered the British such a clear and substantial choice.

“One is promising relatively low levels of spending, tax and borrowing, while the other is promising a much bigger state. But neither is being really honest with the public.”

Johnson added that it was likely that the Conservatives would either have to resort to tax or borrowing increases to bail out public services under increasing pressure, or would risk presiding over a decline in the quality of some of those services, including the NHS.

“Labour’s commitment to a much bigger public sector would require higher taxes that affect many of us,” he also stated. “A bigger state than the one we have been used to is perfectly feasible as many countries have demonstrated, but Labour should not pretend that such a step-change could be funded entirely by a small minority at the very top.

“In particular, the large increase in company taxation that they propose would undoubtedly affect a far broader group than that.”

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