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Parties trade barbs as IFS say none provide budget details

The economy remains one of people's principle concerns in the upcoming election and an independent think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said voters are not being well served by the parties.

The IFS said published spending plans had left people "somewhat in the dark."

The analysis came as Labour accused the Conservatives of planning the biggest cuts since the war and the Tories saying Labour, in alliance with the SNP, would leave everyone worse off.

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports.

PM: Our budget plan is a continuation of current policy

David Cameron Credit: TOBY MELVILLE/WPA Rota/Press Association Images

On a campaign visit to Cornwall, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Our plan is a continuation of what we have done over the last five years, when we have turned the country around, got the deficit down, put the country back to work and are seeing a successful economy.

– David Cameron

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SNP: We will borrow more as it is 'what the public want'

SNP: We will need more borrowing as 'it's what public want' Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Campaigning in Edinburgh, Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney has responded to the IFS analysis of the parties' spending proposals and criticised George Osborne for using the figures during campaigning.

I accept the analysis of the IFS that the SNP's proposal will result in more borrowing than is proposed by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties on the proposition that we've put forward of increasing public spending by half a percent in real terms.

I accept that because that's what the public are calling out for. They're fed up with austerity and they want a clear voice to say austerity has got to come to an end and the investment in our public services and our public infrastructure has got to recommence.

Laws: IFS shows only Lib Dems trusted to build economy

Laws: IFS shows only Lib Dems trusted to rebuild economy Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

David Laws has said that the Institute for Fiscal Studies figures show the Liberal Democrats are the only party, "trusted to build a stronger economy."

The IFS could not be clearer - when it comes to the economy the Liberal Democrats are the most transparent and are the party that will end austerity the earliest.

By contrast, the IFS lift the lid on Tory plans to cut public spending to the bone and accuse them of burying details of their the plans to shrink the state.

They also shine a light on the sheer scale of Labour’s deficit denial, which includes yet unspecified levels of borrowing, despite starving the NHS of the cash it needs.

It's now official. Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to build a stronger economy and fairer society, and create opportunity for all.

– David Laws, Liberal Democrat spokesperson

IFS 'wrong' that Labour will only get budget balanced

Ed Balls. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, has defended his party's budget plans after the Institute for Fiscal Studies said voters were 'in the dark' over the plans of four major parties.

The IFS’ numbers wrongly assume that Labour will get the current budget only into balance. Our manifesto pledge is to get the current budget not only into balance but into surplus as soon as possible in the next Parliament. How big that surplus will be, and how quickly we can achieve that in the next Parliament, will depend on what happens to wages and the economy.

The Tories might be able to make the cuts but the last five years show they will fail to cut the deficit as they claim. They have borrowed £200 billion more than they planned because their

– Ed Balls

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IFS: Electorate 'in the dark' over size and scale of cuts

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the electorate had been left "somewhat in the dark" over the size and scale of cuts planned by the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP.

The think-tank made a detailed study of the party manifestos ahead of the general election on 7th May.

There are genuinely big differences between the main parties' fiscal plans.

The electorate has a real choice, although it can at best see only the broad outlines of that choice.

Conservative plans involve a significantly larger reduction in borrowing and debt than Labour plans.

But they are predicated on substantial and almost entirely unspecified spending cuts and tax increases.

While Labour has been considerably less clear about its overall fiscal ambition, its stated position appears to be consistent with little in the way of further spending cuts after this year.

– Carl Emmerson, IFS deputy director

Government borrowing down £11.1bn on last year

The government borrowed £7.4 billion in March 2015, a drop of £0.4bn compared to the previous year according to Office for National Statistics figures.

Over the year borrowing was down £11.1 billion.

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