Election 2017: ‘I’m suffering’: woman who confronted May tells of disability cuts ordeal – as it happened

17 May

While it’s relatively easy to estimate how much a 1 per cent change in this rate or that rate of tax will bring in, once you move to talking about big shifts of 9 per cent on Corporation Tax, or an additional 5 per cent on earnings over £80,000 you enter much less certain territory. Behavioural change by those facing these tax rates becomes as important as the rates themselves – as does government action to try and respond to those changes. We’re then into a complex world of shifted incentives, changed behaviour, tax avoidance and tax enforcement. Those telling you that such tax rises would raise nothing are as wrong as those telling you with equal certainty what they will raise in pounds and pence.

Equally, costing manifestos suffers from another big problem – you can’t cost a fudge and politics is full of fudges. For example the manifesto uses the word “review” 37 times, ranging from “the entire business rates regime”, to state pension age, legal aid funding and the Mineworkers Pension Scheme. Good luck costing a review.

One “review” that has disappeared from the manifesto text since the leak of the draft last week is of the cuts to Universal Credit. In its place is an allocation of £2bn to reversing an unspecified amount of those cuts – and without a firm policy it’s hard to know if £2bn will cover it. That switch is welcome, but it is only enough to reverse less than half of overall cuts associated with reduced work allowances and the two-child limit on benefit entitlement in 2021-22. To further see the difficulty of costing parties plans compare the fact that Jeremy Corbyn said at his manifesto launch today that Labour would not freeze benefits, but the manifesto makes no reference to reversing the benefit freeze that is set to bite hard in the next few years. Should we cost the manifesto or what the party leader says?

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