Tax and spend? We won’t be doing that any more

Today’s report from the IPPR is a big deal in a couple of ways. 

First off, it’s a detailed look at the policies a Labour government could pursue – not just to change Britain for the better, but to change the way we as a country are governed. The IPPR have done the hard yards, and they should get the thanks of every Labour supporter in Britain. (The whole report weighs in at some length, but it’s really worth reading – download it here.)

In the past, Labour governments have sought to increase the money that comes in through tax, and then use the spending levers of Whitehall to do good to people. We won’t be doing that any more. 


Part of the reason we won’t is practical – we won’t have more money to spend if we win in May next year. We face that reality, not with gloom but with a fresh zeal to do good for the country in different ways. Big reforms, not big spending.

But it’s not just a case of fiscal prudence. Our way of doing things in the past didn’t work out how we wanted it to. We left office in 2010 with much not done – too unequal as a country, with opportunities too restricted. The next Labour government will work with people who want to change their lives for the better – we will do things with people, not to them. 

A Labour government will do things differently:

  • We’ll have a big devolution of power away from Whitehall to cities, and to local communities
  • We’ll get back to the notion of social security contribution – where people put something in, in order to get something out
  • We’ll make sure that if people are up for working hard, they’ll get on as a result

Some people have said this is wishful thinking or vague. Today’s IPPR report shows that they are wrong. 

Here are just some of the policies that have been signposted:

  • Giving local areas the power to get building homes again so people can live in the area they want to, where they grew up, where their families are
  • Giving people who put more into the system a better Job Seekers Allowance if they find themselves out of work – so if you’ve been paying in for 20 years, you get more support if you need it
  • Making sure that young people without the skills they need to work are in training, not on benefits

There’s more work to do in the run up to the National Policy Forum in July – starting with the upcoming report on growth from Andrew Adonis and Sir Richard Leese’s Local Government innovation Task Force report on devolving power and reforming our public services – but things are looking good for us to have the offer voters want to see, and just as importantly, the plan for government we need.

Jon Cruddas is the Chair of Labour’s Policy Review

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