Frances Ball 29 Nov 2019 12:16pm

Neither main party has credible spending plans, says IFS

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says that the Conservatives will spend more than their manifesto pledges, while Labour will be unable to deliver the scale of spending it promises

In a withering analysis of both major parties’ manifestos, leading economists at the IFS say that taxes will rise regardless of who comes to power after 12 December.

In a recent presentation, IFS senior research economist Stuart Adam pointed out that it was "clearly not true" that Labour’s tax promises will affect only the richest people.

"Labour’s tax policies are certainly progressive, but don’t just hit the top 5%," Adam said.

Paul Johnson, IFS director, added that Labour’s promise to hand 10% of shares in big companies to workers could well mean that those firms simply choose to cut wages.

The Conservatives, Johnson said, had given "a promise that they might come to regret" that certain taxes would not rise.

Public spending outside health would still, under Conservative pledges, be 14% lower in 2023-24 than it was in 2010. "No more austerity perhaps," said Johnson, "but an awful lot of it baked in."

If the economy falters, the IFS said, both parties’ spending plans could fail. The think tank also pointed out that if the Conservatives were to take the UK out of the EU without a deal, the impact on the economy would likely raise borrowing costs.

Johnson said that the difference between the two parties could not be overstated. Where Labour offers radical policy that would see spending rise to "peacetime highs", Johnson said, the Conservative manifesto is "remarkably free of real change."

"Neither is a properly credible prospectus," he said. Both parties have included uncosted, but expensive, policies in their manifestos.