TELFORD, England (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson, facing a Dec. 12 election, promised 23.5 billion pounds of “sensible” tax cuts and extra day-to-day spending which he sought to contrast with the opposition Labour Party’s much more radical plans.
The most expensive tax cut planned by Johnson’s Conservative Party was a raising of the threshold for paying social security contributions - which was announced by Johnson last week - while much of the extra spending was on the health service.
“We won’t gamble with taxpayers’ money or this country’s economic future. That is why we have set out clear rules that will keep borrowing and debt under control,” finance minister Sajid Javid said in a document accompanying the launch.
Labour was proposing “reckless plans and ideological experiments” which would hit investment in Britain, he said.
Under the Conservatives’ plans, day-to-day spending would rise by 2.9 billion pounds a year by the 2023/24 financial year, dwarfed by Labour’s 83 billion-pound planned rise as it promises to reverse a decade of tight spending controls on many services.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent think tank, said the spending proposals represented a move towards more funding for public services as a whole, but many areas would not feel much relief.
“Outside of schools and hospitals, there is not going to be much to go around,” he told BBC television. “A lot of the austerity...that we have seen over the last decade in things like justice, in things like local government, are pretty much baked in, if you take this manifesto at face value.”
The Conservatives said the impact of their tax and spending plans on the government’s day-to-day current budget would be close to zero in the period between 2020 and 2024.
The election manifesto also reiterated a proposal to increase investment - which is separate from day-to-day spending - by around 20 billion pounds a year.
Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton