'No additional tax rises' under Labour but Reeves refuses to say which public services would be cut

ITV News' Joel Hills grills the shadow chancellor on her key economic policies after she delivered her first speech of the election campaign

Rachel Reeves says a Labour government will not impose any new tax increases beyond those she has already told us about.

At the weekend, the shadow chancellor pledged that Labour would not hike national insurance or increase income tax if it wins the election.

Today, speaking at Rolls Royce in Derby in her first major speech of the campaign, she went further.

“There won't be any additional tax rises In our manifesto,” Reeves told ITV News. “We've already set out the first steps that a Labour government will take and how they will be funded. And people can be very confident about it.”

Labour has already said some taxes will rise if it forms the next government.

Charging VAT on private school fees; the reintroduction of the lifetime allowance on pension savings; higher taxes on non-dom, private equity bonuses and the profits of energy companies are expected to raise something in the region of £8 billion a year.

Watch ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills's full interview with Rachel Reeves

Labour is now telling voters that’s as far as their plan to raise taxes goes.

But that pledge is built on an expectation that a Labour government will deliver higher levels economic growth, something that is far from guaranteed.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has been quick to suggest this is a pledge that may not survive very long.

“Given the history of post election Budgets, it would not be a surprise were this Autumn's Budget - whoever is chancellor - to contain tax raising measures that were not detailed in the winning parties manifesto,” said Carl Emerson, Deputy Director of the IFS.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also likely to be sceptical.

Two weeks ago, the IMF said it assumes that whichever party forms the next government will struggle to keep a lid on spending and that taxes will have to rise to better fund public services and to raise investment.

The tax rises Labour has announced are designed to provide extra teachers for schools and to reduce NHS waiting times.

They will not be directed at “unprotected” public services - those which don’t have their budgets guaranteed or ringfenced by government.

The IFS predicts that unprotected departments - which include local authorities, HMRC and the criminal justice system - face between £10 and 20 billion pounds of cuts in the next four years (even before accounting for the recent Tory pledge to raise defence spending, which Labour is not promising to match).

Councils are already going bust and prisoners are already being released early because prisons are full. I asked Rachel Reeves if we should expect these things to continue under a Labour government.

She wouldn’t engage with the idea that councils could get less in grants or that spending on prisons will be further reduced - although she didn’t rule either out.

“There’s not going to be a return to austerity under a Labour government,” she insisted, although it’s not really clear what she means by this.

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Factor in existing plans to cuts to public investment spending beyond April next year - which Labour seems to be signed-up to - and the IFS reckons there are a total of roughly £30 - £40 billion of spending cuts in the pipeline over the next four years.

Labour is not suggesting the IFS has miscalculated but neither is it giving any indication about which areas will face cuts.

It’s not impossible to make spending cuts, of course, but there would be consequences. And it would very hard for the next government to deliver spending cuts on this scale and continue to offer all of the services it currently offers.

The sense you get is that Labour knows that something will have to give but the party is determined not to spell out exactly what will before the election.

The next government will deliver a Budget alongside a spending review before Christmas.

“Overall spending would be rising,” says the IFS “but it would feel like a return to austerity for many public services.

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