May v Corbyn: Neither manifesto is being honest with the public, says the IFS

Anna Schaverien
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The IFS said both major parties' manifestos didn't add up
The IFS said both major parties' manifestos didn't add up (Source: Getty)

Both the Conservatives and Labour are failing to tell the truth in their election manifestos, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).

After going through each manifesto with a fine tooth comb, the IFS’ researchers have scrutinised plans proposed by the Tories and Labour alike.

IFS director, Paul Johnson, 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.

Going head to head on policy areas, which party leaders comes out on top?

Read more: General Election 2017: It is now time to resume our democratic process

May v Corbyn on the economy

Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to spend £250bn over the next 10 years on infrastructure would actually be a help to the economy in the short term, according to the IFS. But the trade off is that national debt will remain high.

On the other hand, the UK will be £6bn a year worse off by 2023 if Theresa May’s plans for immigration are followed through, as tax revenues will fall.

Carl Emmerson, deputy director at the IFS, said: “The Conservatives’ continued focus on reducing immigration would, if effective, cause considerable economic damage and create additional problems for the public finances.”

May v Corbyn on welfare and pensions

The Conservatives’ plans to cut welfare benefits will save us £11bn a year by 2021 and the IFS reckoned May’s double lock pension promise will cost exactly the same as the triple lock, and the benefits will be the same.

But Corbyn’s pledge to keep the triple lock and keep the state pension age below 66 will be “immensely expensive”. Corbyn’s promise to reverse some welfare cuts would stop the poor from struggling to get by was also unconvincing.

Robert Joyce, associate director at the IFS, said: “On the Labour side, overall there would still be a significant takeaway from measures implemented under a Labour government from lower income households on average.”

May v Corbyn on tax

Labour’s maths is faulty again, said the IFS, as their policy to raise £49bn from businesses and the “rich” has made some optimistic assumptions. In reality, Labour will come up £9bn short.

Whereas May’s tax policies will mean an extra £208 a year for higher earners and those on the highest income will get £175 back.

But Mr Emmerson said: “Compared to a typical budget, their [Conservative] manifesto is extremely light on tax and spending proposals.”

May v Corbyn on public service spending

Both May and Corbyn’s proposed spending on the NHS were branded “tight”, but the Conservative plans “may well be undeliverable”.

Labour’s vow to abolish student loans will cost more than £9bn a year to do. However, Rowena Crawford, associate director at the IFS, said: “Obviously it reduces the cost of going to university. Perhaps counter-intuitively though, it’s the higher-earning graduates who gain more than lower-earning graduates.”

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