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Monday, 5 January 2015

Tory 'dodgy dossier' is 'riddled with untruths & errors'

Responding to the Conservative Party's Document Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, said: "This dodgy Tory dossier is riddled with untruths and errors on every page. It isn’t an impartial exercise but a political smear based on false assumptions made by Tory advisers, including dozens of claims which are not even Labour’s policies.

“Labour has made no unfunded spending or tax commitments. In contrast the Tories have made over £7 billion a year of unfunded tax promises. George Osborne failed to explain today how they would be paid for. Will it be another VAT rise, even deeper cuts to public services or both? As the IFS said Labour has the most cautious approach of all the parties and has promised no net giveaways.

“If the Tories wanted an honest debate they would stop blocking our proposal to allow the OBR to independently audit the manifestos of the main parties. And they would have allowed the Treasury to involve Labour in the production of proper costings, as I suggested in my letter to the Permanent Secretary yesterday. It’s now clear the Tories want to carry on spreading smears about Labour while avoiding independent scrutiny of their own plans.

“George Osborne claimed his plan is working. But there is nothing competent about Tory policies that leave working people worse off and lead to over £200 billion more borrowing than planned. Labour will cut the deficit every year and balance the books in a tough but fair way - not risk taking Britain back to public spending as a share of national income last seen in the 1930s.”

Five examples of what Labour call 'dodgy Tory claims':

1. They say it’s Labour’s policy to ban food waste from landfill, based on an out of date 2013 quote. This is not Labour’s policy - it was not agreed at Labour’s National Policy Forum in July 2014 and is not in the NPF document.

2. They say Labour will reverse over £5 billion of cuts they have made in 2015/16 - but we have been explicit that we won’t: “We won’t be able to reverse all the spending cuts and tax rises that the Tories have pushed through. We will have to govern with less money, which means the next Labour government will have to make cuts too…. The government’s day-to-day spending totals for 2015/16 will be our starting point. There will be no more borrowing for day-to-day spending. Any changes to the current spending plans for that year will be fully-funded and set out in advance in our manifesto.” Ed Balls, speech to Fabian Society Annual Conference, 24 January 2014

3. They say it will cost £3.7 billion to give the Green Investment Bank borrowing powers - but it is their policy to give it borrowing powers. In his 2011 Budget speech, George Osborne said that “from 2015-16, and subject to our overall debt target being met, we will allow the Green Investment Bank to borrow and invest in a better future”.

4. They say Labour's plan to provide 48-hour GP access is unfunded - but they have previously said there is no problem with GP access. In any case, we have set out how this guarantee would be funded by scrapping competition requirements which are costing billions in legal and tendering fees, and by funding 8,000 additional GPs from our Time to Care Fund. Even the Government’s own costing admits that our plans would save money, but does not take that into account: “This costing does not include potential savings to other parts of the system which might arise as a result of hypothetical changes in patient behaviour impacting where and when people access health and social care services.”

5. The dossier is full of wild assertions. They say that a commitment to “take steps to promote cycling by making it safer and more accessible” amounts to a £63 million spending commitment to cancel the abolition of Cycling England Towns and Cities initiatives - this is just nonsense.