Party manifestos ‘do not offer an honest set of choices’ for public finances

26 May 17

The Conservative and Labour manifestos fail to honestly address long-term challenges faced by the country's public finances, a think-tank has declared.

Speaking at a general election manifesto analysis briefing in London today, Institute for Fiscal Studies deputy director Carl Emmerson, said "neither sets out an honest set of choices".

He accused Labour of saying the UK could have "pretty much everything".

Emmerson said the Tories "simply offer the cuts already promised", adding that Theresa May's plan was a "steady as she goes prospectus".

The think-tank argues getting to budget balance by the mid-2020s, the Conservatives' aim would likely require more spending cuts or tax rises even beyond the end of the next parliament.

It stated there is a lot uncertainty in whether Labour would be able to raise the amount laid out in its manifesto, due to "mistakes" in costing and over optimistic expectations.

Labour propose raising and spending £48.6bn, which would provide free higher education, free childcare, more spending on health, infrastructure and pay.

The party would more realistically achieve £41bn - but this too is questionable, according to the IFS.

Emmerson said: "There is a choice we can make as a country to have a bigger state. That would not make us unusual in international terms.

"But that comes at a cost in higher taxes which would inevitably need to be borne by large numbers of us."

On the Conservatives' pledges Emmerson said they propose spending broadly in line with the March budget which offers "a relatively small state and consequently lower taxes" when compared to Labour's offer.

"With that (Tory) offer come unacknowledged risks to the quality of public services, and tough choices over spending," he added.

Emmerson outlined the key risks of Labour's plans firstly as the uncertainty offer whether they could raise the amounts needed to fund their proposals.

Secondly the economically damaging measures of increasing tax, alongside minimum wage increases and other labour market regulation.

The risks of the Conservative manifesto is that more austerity would inflict "serious damage" to the quality of public services and some of the cuts would be undeliverable.

Emmerson also criticised the Tory immigration promise to reduce it to the tens of thousands, calling it a threat to the economy and the tax base.

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