EXCL Tories ‘rather blasé’ about impact of cuts, says IFS chief
The Tories have become “rather blasé” about the impact of public spending cuts, according to the head of a leading economic think tank.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the Conservatives were guilty of not even noticing the "really quite substantial" effects of nearly a decade of austerity.
"You can’t just keep on assuming that if you keep cutting stuff, everything will continue to be fine," the Institute for Fiscal Studies director told The House magazine.
"These decisions have consequences which I don’t think they have been very good at, not only predicting, but even seeing as they’re happening."
He added: “They did impose really big cuts and there was quite a lot of fat to be cut. I think it got rather blasé and the consequences are going to be really quite substantial. For them, they need to be much more alert to the potential negative consequences of the levels of funding in public services that they’re proposing.”
In the party’s manifesto, the Tories pledged to spend an additional £1.5bn on public services in 2020, rising to £2.8bn in 2021 and £2.9bn for the subsequent two years. Boris Johnson also committed to a “triple tax lock” by ruling out increases to income tax, national insurance contributions or VAT.
Responding to the 60-page document during the campaign, Mr Johnson warned: “It is also part of a fundamentally damaging narrative – that we can have the public services we want, with more money for health and pensions and schools – without paying for them. We can’t."
Speaking to The House for a feature on political campaigning, the economist called on all politicians to be “honest and transparent” with the public about the choices the country faces.
“The more that you pretend everything is fine or pretend that you’re making everyone better off all of the time or pretend that you can have Swedish levels of public services with American levels of tax, you’re going to destroy not just your own credibility but the credibility of the whole system. I genuinely think that’s incredibly important,” he said.
Mr Johnson also lamented an “astonishing lack of political leadership and courage” on all sides of the political debate over many years in failing to resolve the UK’s social care crisis.