IFS: Neither the Conservative nor Labour spending plans are 'properly credible'

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Prime minister Boris Johnson presents the Conservative party's general election manifesto on Sunday. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on Thursday criticised the spending plans of both the Conservatives and Labour, saying that neither party had released a “properly credible” manifesto.

Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS, said that the Conservative party manifesto offered “essentially nothing new”, but noted that it would lead to a 14% reduction in public service spending excluding health by 2024, compared with the 2010–11 fiscal year.

He said that, while the party had promised not to introduce further spending cuts, it also had not made any major pledges to increase spending compared with the 2017 election manifesto.

“No more austerity perhaps – but an awful lot of it [already] baked in,” Johnson said.

Johnson noted that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party had decided to raise the amount it has pledged to spend in 2017, from £50bn to £80bn. He also called “extraordinary” the party’s pledge to pay women who were affected by the change in the pension age £58bn.

This, Johnson remarked was a much larger sum than Labour had pledged to a “much bigger” group of “much poorer” benefit recipients.

“Neither is a properly credible prospectus,” he said.

“Should they win this time it is highly likely that the Conservatives would end up spending more than their manifesto implies and thus taxing or borrowing more,” he added.

He noted that Labour would not be able to deliver on its proposed spending increases, saying the “public sector doesn’t have the capacity to ramp up that much, that fast”.