The Conservatives have published a 36-page dossier claiming that a Jeremy Corbyn government would spend £1.2trn over the next five years if it wins power. Labour have described the dossier as a “work of fiction”.
Here we analyse the claims - and the reality.
Claim: Half of the £1.2trn of Labour’s spending plans consists of £600bn in commitments from the party’s 2017 general election manifesto.
Reality: According to Labour’s own figures, their 2017 prospectus would have cost the taxpayer £48.6bn a year, or £243bn over five years - far lower than £600bn.
The Tory dossier says Labour's calculations do not include uncosted capital spending, such as renationalisation of rail, energy, water and postal services, which they claim comes to an additional £196bn.
It also says there are other “uncosted” commitments for day-to-day spending, such as increasing free childcare for two-year-olds, and recreating government offices for the regions. But Labour have said that not everything from their 2017 manifesto will be carried over to the one for this year.
Claim: In addition to the £600bn from the 2017 manifesto, Labour are planning a further £385.7bn on day-to-day spending for things like hospitals, schools and social care.
Reality: These costings are broken down into detailed, department-by-department analysis by the Conservatives, and includes things like £500m on an emergency winter fund for the NHS, £272.5m for additional GPs, £32bn for free personal care and £16bn on public health, £38bn on public sector pay rises, £16bn on universal credit and £67bn for the funding the early retirement for WASPI women.
The Tories claim these figures are based on either Labour’s own costings or independent analysis.
But Labour say that not all of their party policies announced since 2017 will be implemented by a Corbyn government - for example, the Labour leader has already suggested he will not go ahead with abolishing private schools, which the Tory dossier says would cost £35bn.
Claim: Labour are planning to spend a further £201.1bn on capital projects, such as infrastructure and investment in school and hospital buildings.
Reality: This is based on pledges made by Labour politicians since 2017, so it should also carry the caveat that not all policies will be put into effect by a Labour government.
In addition, the Tory dossier calculates that Labour would spend £124bn over the next five years on renationalising the big six energy companies.
However, the dossier has already included the cost of renationalisation under 2017 manifesto costs, so some double counting has taken place here.
Conclusion: a Labour government would increase quite considerably spending on public services, and many of the policy pledges listed in the dossier would cost billions of pounds over five years, so it is not, completely, a “work of fiction”.
But the overall amount of £1.2trn is clearly an over-estimation of what a Corbyn government would spend, given there is some double counting on the cost of nationalisation, and that not all policies would be carried forward by a Labour Chancellor.
Neither Labour nor the Tories have published their 2019 manifestos yet, so we can’t know for sure what either party would spend if elected on 12 December.