Tories seize on IFS report

THE TORIES yesterday seized on a report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies that criticised Labour’s stewardship of the public finances.

The independent economic think-tank noted that the public sector moved from a deficit to a surplus in the early years of the 1997 Labour government, when the party followed tax and spending plans laid out by former chancellor Ken Clarke.

But it said Labour soon upped spending on public services and that the vast majority of other developed countries reduced their borrowing more than the UK in the years preceding the financial crisis. “The UK was in a worse position relative to most comparable countries,” the report said.

Philip Hammond, shadow chief secretary, said the report proved Labour was economically incompetent. He added: “Brown left Britain with one of the biggest structural budget deficits in the developed world.”