News | Published November 04 2019

Public spending to surpass 1970s levels after election

According to research conducted by the Resolution Foundation, public spending will increase to levels not seen since the 1970s regardless of who wins the upcoming election.

Although election manifestos have not yet been published, the research studied what the main parties have already promised and the underlying trends of the UK economy.

The research focused on projected Labour and Conservative spending and converted their existing pledges into predicted rises.

The research stated that if the Conservatives were to win the election and maintained current spending levels, public spending as a percentage of the economy would rise to 41.3 per cent by 2023-2024.

In the two decades leading to the financial crash of 2007-8, public spending stood at an average of 37.4 per cent of the economy. 

Between 1966 and 1984, when public spending increased dramatically, public spending accounted for 42 per cent of the economy. 

Under the Resolution Foundation’s modelling, public spending would exceed this level.

Under Labour, this percentage is predicted to be even higher, rising to 43.3 per cent by 2023-4.

This figure is based on the party re-committing to the £48.6 billion of spending it pledged in its 2017 manifesto, alongside new investments in capital infrastructure projects.

In order to meet these projected levels, Matt Whittaker, the deputy chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, warned that taxes will have to be raised. 

Labour has already specified they will aim to increase the amount the state receives through taxation by £49 billion.

Whittaker said: “After an unprecedented decade of austerity, both main parties are gearing up to turn the spending taps back on.

"Whichever party wins is going to face huge questions about how they are going to pay for Britain's growing state. The fact is that whatever promises are made over the course of this election campaign, taxes are going to have to rise over the coming decade."

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
November 04 2019

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