IFS manifesto verdict: voters left with an incomplete picture

Piggy Bank

An IFS study of the manifestos of four parties suggests that voters do not have a complete picture of each parties’ economic plans.

The report examined the manifestos of Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.

One of the main points the report highlighted was that (p4):

“Unfortunately, the electorate is at best armed with only an incomplete picture of what they can expect from any of these four parties.”

The report suggests that whilst all four of the parties would reduce borrowing over the next five year they are unclear on the specifics of how they would do this. The IFS report has said that the differences between the Tories' plans and Labour and SNP plans are “substantial” (p2). Of this they say that “The Conservatives need to find much more substantial spending cuts; Labour and the SNP would reduce the deficit and debt significantly more slowly.”

Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow secretary, said this of the report:

“The IFS has confirmed that the Tories are committed to the most extreme spending plans of any political party, with bigger cuts than any other advanced economy in the next three years.”

Meanwhile the Conservatives have attacked Labour, highlighting that the IFS have stated that by the end of the next parliament debt would be about £90bn higher under a Labour-led government (p2).

The IFS study only looked at the four parties most likely to get the highest number of seats come May, so what about UKIP?

UKIP's Douglas Carswell has been tweeting about the report saying that only UKIP offer a "credible fiscal plan" with "detailed tax and spend plans". The party's manifesto is, as claimed by Nigel Farage, "fully costed" and was checked by an independent think tank. Channel 4's FactCheck has looked at these claims and has said that it is fair that UKIP have probably provided the most information on how to pay for certain things, however, they have highlighted that cutting in-migration and leaving the EU could potentially cost the country more in the long run.

Overall, whilst the four manifestos looked at by the IFS reveal where some of the spending will be funded from the IFS is clear that voters do not have a clear picture. UKIP's manifesto perhaps offers a glimpse into the future on how parties could do their manifestos, especially with criticism of other parties not providing all of the numbers.

Access the full IFS report here.


Democracy and reform: what are the parties promising?

Two weeks to go: general election predictions

Finland's election: the future of Britain?