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General Election 2019: IFS Manifesto Analysis - Public Service Spending

28th November 2019

Current government policy is that day-to-day public service spending should increase by £34 billion, or almost 10%, between 2019-20 and 2023-24. That in itself is a big change. Manifesto promises are in addition to that. Labour propose to increase current public service spending by an additional £73 billion by 2023-24 taking it to almost one-third above today's level. The Liberal Democrats propose an additional £33 billion and the Conservatives just £3 billion.

Labour and Liberal Democrats propose significantly more spending than the Conservatives on health and schools, but it is in other areas that the differences are starker. They both propose very big increases in spending on free childcare provision - Labour would double current spending levels on universal free childcare and the Liberal Democrats virtually quintuple them thereby creating a whole new leg of the universal welfare state.

Labour has maintained its commitment to abolish university tuition fees, a policy that would benefit high earnings graduates the most, low earning graduates very little and non-graduates not at all. It would also create pressure to reimpose caps on student numbers.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have also pledged more money for local government and for social care. Labour's proposal to make personal care free for all would be expensive - around £7 billion a year - but would still not insure people against the potential catastrophic costs associated with need for long term nursing care. The Conservatives have failed to come up with any kind of plan or any kind of money for social care. Their promise that nobody would need to sell their their house to pay for social care would appear to be little more than an uncosted aspiration.

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