2 weeks ago

Conservatives repeat misleading £2,400 cost of Labour figure

During his Conservative manifesto launch speech, Boris Johnson said Labour’s plans mean “higher taxes for everybody in this country, £2,400 extra.” The claim also appears in the Conservative manifesto.

This figure was first calculated by the Conservatives before the publication of Labour’s manifesto, so we called the calculation “largely meaningless”, as the Conservatives couldn’t know, at the time, exactly what Labour’s policies were.

Now that Labour’s manifesto has been published, we know it proposes £83 billion of increased spending by 2023/24. Labour has since announced compensation for the WASPI women at a cost of up to £58 billion in total (so an additional £11.5 billion per year).

If you divide that £83 billion figure by the number of income tax payers in the UK, it gives you a figure of roughly £2,600, or adding in the funding for WASPI women, the figure would be £3,000. But those figures are meaningless. They don’t mean that every income tax payer will have to pay this to fund the pledges.

That’s because Labour does not plan to fund its spending pledges through higher income tax for everybody (and even if it did, the cost would fall disproportionately on higher earners).

Labour doesn’t plan to raise income tax for those earning under £80,000 a year, and says that this increased spending will mainly be funded through taxes including corporation tax, a financial transactions tax, and higher income tax for those earning over £80,000 a year. 

The IFS says that “it is unlikely that one could raise the sums suggested by Labour from the tax policies they set out.” 

So Labour’s calculations have their problems, but it’s wrong to suggest that every income tax payer in the UK will fund every penny of Labour’s additional spending, and in equal amount.

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2 weeks ago

Please do-nut publish misleading charts

A leaflet from Catherine West, the Labour party candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green, includes the following doughnut chart as evidence that “only a vote for Labour can guarantee Johnson won’t enter 10 Downing Street again.”

It claims to show the result of the 2017 general election in the constituency. It’s correct that Ms West won 65.4% of the vote as the Labour candidate. But the rest of the doughnut chart being blue suggests that the Conservatives took the remaining 34.6% of the vote.

That’s misleading. The Liberal Democrats took 16.1% of the vote, the Conservatives took 14.8% and the Greens took 1.9%.

 

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2 weeks ago

Digesting the Conservative manifesto

Good afternoon. The big story yesterday was the launch of the Conservative manifesto, which we wrote about here

In particular we looked at how the pledge to recruit 20,000 more police officers won’t restore the number lost since 2010, and how the pledge to recruit 50,000 “more nurses” hasn’t actually factored in the cost of eventually paying their salaries.

We’ve also examined comparisons between the day-to-day spending pledges of the three main UK parties. While the Conservatives have only pledged £3 billion a year of extra day-to-day spending in their manifesto, that doesn’t include pledges to increase spending on things like the NHS and schools made before the election. 

Today, among other things, we’re looking at other claims made yesterday on the Andrew Marr show from Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price on the support for Welsh independence, and Angela Rayner on how many women are in poverty because of the changes to state pension age.

We’ve also written about why Labour had to correct its broadband costings in its manifesto.

And from the Mail, please watch this amazing video of Michael Crick exposing a ruse from a Conservative party candidate.

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2 weeks, 1 day ago

How comparable are the costings in the party manifestos?

Following the launch of the Conservative manifesto, journalists pointed out the big difference between the levels of increased current (day-to-day) spending promised by the three main parties.

It’s important to note that the manifestos (in general) do not include spending that will increase in the future but has already been announced. The costings for the Conservative manifesto only include new spending announcements made since the election was called.

For example, the Conservative manifesto spending list doesn’t include its already-announced pledges to:

  • Increase school funding in England, worth £4.3 billion per year by 2022/23 (the Conservatives wrongly give a higher figure by ignoring inflation and adding up multiple years.) 
  • Increase spending on the NHS averaging £20.5 billion per year (again the Conservatives use a higher figure which ignores inflation).
  • Recruit more police officers at a cost of £1 billion from 2019 to 2020. 

So while the Conservatives plan to increase annual current spending by £3 billion compared to what’s already been announced, overall they plan to spend a lot more than £3 billion extra per year than we spend today. 

It’s not clear to what extent the other parties would continue all of the previous spending commitments made by the government.

Since the Labour party manifesto was launched, they have also announced a major spending commitment on women’s pensions which was not mentioned in the manifesto.

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2 weeks, 2 days ago

BBC Question Time leaders special: Jeremy Corbyn fact checked

In the BBC Question Time leaders special, Jeremy Corbyn said of the options that would be included in Labour’s planned second referendum: “This will be a trade deal with Europe or remaining in the EU, that will be the choice that we put before the British people within six months. Any other option will require years of negotiations, either with the EU or the USA and put our public services at risk.”

This is not Labour’s position. Labour’s proposal is not to negotiate a trade deal with the EU before the referendum (which they have promised within six months of being elected). They propose to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, and the non-binding political declaration on the future trade relationship between the EU and the UK, but this is not the same as negotiating a trade deal.

The EU has said that it will not begin negotiations on a trade deal (and other aspects of the future relationship) until a withdrawal agreement is ratified.

It’s possible that Mr. Corbyn simply misspoke when he said “trade deal”, but his subsequent comments that “any other option will require years of negotiations” add to the confusion. 

If Leave were to win the referendum on Labour’s renegotiated withdrawal agreement, the UK would still have to finalise its new relationship - we don’t have enough details on what Labour’s Leave deal would mean to know how difficult that would be, and therefore how long it would take to negotiate and ratify a new agreement.  

If the UK wanted to join an established organisation like the European Economic Area (the arrangement that allows Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein barrier-free access to the Single Market), that could be easier to agree than a comprehensive free trade deal - but other EEA members would need to agree the UK should join. Labour has not so far said this is what it wants, talking instead of a “strong economic relationship” based on “close alignment.” 

If Labour wanted to negotiate a bespoke trade deal with the EU, that would likely take longer. There is no realistic prospect of Mr. Corbyn’s trade deal being in place immediately after a second referendum result.

Mr. Corbyn also said, when talking about Labour’s tax policies, “95% of the population will pay no more whatsoever in tax. The top 5% will pay a bit more.”

This is wrong: Labour does propose some tax changes that would result in some of the 95% paying more. As we wrote in our fact check of Labour’s manifesto: “It’s correct that the Labour manifesto plans no increases in VAT, income tax or National Insurance for people earning less than £80,000.

It’s also correct that people earning less than £80,000 account for around 95% of taxpayers (somewhere between 95% and 96% according to 2016/17 figures from HMRC).

But that doesn’t mean Labour plans no tax rises whatsoever for these people, because there’s more to tax than just VAT, income tax and National Insurance.”  For example, as an audience member pointed out, Labour’s manifesto commits to scrapping marriage allowance.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies manifesto analysis said: “If you want to transform the scale and scope of the state then you need to be clear that the tax increases required to do that will need to be widely shared rather than pretending that everything can be paid for by companies and the rich.”

You can read more on this issue in our fact check of the manifesto.

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