Labour will plan for growth, not hope for growth: Starmer

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024

LONDON: Labour will “pull the lever called ‘growth’”, Sir Keir Starmer said as he insisted he will not have to raise taxes on working people if his party wins the election.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have been criticised by Paul Johnson, director of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), for their unwillingness to consider tax increases. On Sunday, Mr Johnson said: “I wish they would just stop saying what they’re not going to do, because they tie themselves in knots.

“The more that they say ‘We’re not going to increase council tax, we’re not going to increase income tax, national insurance contributions’ and so on, the more they tie themselves into either not being able to raise the money they need or raising it in ways which are actually more damaging.”

The IFS has repeatedly called for both main parties to “level” with the public about trade-offs between taxation, spending and borrowing, arguing that current plans will see real-terms spending cuts for some departments unless more money is found through higher taxes or borrowing. But speaking to journalists during a campaign visit to Nuneaton, Warwickshire, on Monday, Sir Keir said growth is the answer. He said: “What Paul Johnson has said is you can’t hope for growth – he’s right about that. You can’t hope for growth, you have to plan for growth.

“The single biggest problem of the last 14 years is we haven’t had significant growth. If we’d had growth in the last 14 years at the same rate as the last Labour government, we’d have tens of billions of pounds to spend on our public services.

“I ran a public service, I care about public services. We are not going back to austerity, but we will pull the lever called growth’.” He added that Labour would reform public services to get more value for taxpayers’ money and repeated his pledge that a Labour government would not raise income tax, national insurance or VAT. Sir Keir made his comments on a visit to promote Labour’s new childcare policy, which would see the party create 3,300 new nurseries by repurposing empty school classrooms.