Like the Lib Dems and Greens (and unlike the biggest two parties), UKIP have released a manifesto that includes a list of what each policy costs (see pages 74-75). They have even had an independent body check that those costs sound reasonable, and put a lot of emphasis on their manifesto being “fully costed”. Kudos to them, you might say, but unfortunately their sums don’t add up.
For 2019-20 they have identified £32 billion of savings – largely from slashing overseas aid, ending EU contributions, cancelling HS2 and reducing Scottish spending. And £32 billion is then used for tax cuts (such as scrapping inheritance tax) and some spending increases. In this sense – and assuming all of these costs are indeed correct – the sums do balance. But…
It’s not enough for these sums to add up to zero. Their manifesto says they are “the one party that can stick to the Treasury’s deficit elimination plan” and that “UKIP MPs in the next parliament will make sure the Treasury sticks to this latest [Budget 2015] plan, with no backsliding.”
Sticking to this plan would require £40 billion of spending cuts and/or tax rises for 2018-19. The UKIP manifesto savings by 2018-19 (where they’d reach overall budget surplus) do give £3 billion leftover for deficit reduction after giveaways. But that leaves a £37 billion hole to reach their deficit target. And if the public voted against leaving the EU in their referendum as polls suggest they would (though they have also suggested they would leave the EU and then hold a referendum!) that hole grows to £46 billion.
Their manifesto gives no indication of how this hole might be filled or even any acknowledgement that it exists. The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour have all failed to specify exactly where all their cuts would fall, but they have at least – to varying degrees – given some sense of where the axe would fall. What’s more, the UKIP manifesto seems to rule out most of the possibilities.
Their other policies suggest they couldn’t cut the NHS or defence, and their money from scrapping HS2 and most international aid has already been promised away. They pledge to protect old age benefits, childcare, elderly day care, home care, Meals on Wheels, increase police numbers and maintain prison places. They welcome the pensions triple lock, and commit to “maintaining a strong and supportive safety net for those who fall on hard times”. They suggest various small savings and the merging of several departments, but then say that these savings would pay for the very expensive repairs of the Palace of Westminster.
To give a sense of the scale of the £37 billion hole, it is equivalent to almost the entire schools budget, or abolishing both tax credits and child benefit, or the combined budget of the Home Office, Justice, DWP, Communities, DECC, Defra, DCMS and the Foreign Office.
They say their plans add up “Without adding a penny to our burgeoning national debt, without cutting vital services and without raising taxes”. This is plainly untrue. That £37 billion gap – or over £100 billion across the whole five years – must mean further huge cuts, tax increases or abandoning their deficit target. Far from having the most robust manifesto in terms of its sums, UKIP’s has by far the biggest black hole.
Originally published at http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-do-ukips-sums-add-up-absolutely-not-45511.html