Politicians plus maths equals the wrong answer

Politicans shouldn't throw around numbers they aren't sure about

Updated:

All the political hectoring in the run up to the election has taken something of a mathematical turn but we shouldn't believe all the figures we read.

The Conservatives have said you'll pay £3,028 more in tax, which aside from being quite a large sum, is also a very specific amount (presumably to illustrate the rigour by which the Tories have calculated it).

Labour swiftly knocked it on the head saying it was a 'totally made-up' numbers.

The well-respected Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has stepped in to try and clear up who is telling porkies about tax or whether someone is inflating the figures.

And the answer is that neither party is right and neither is wrong. The £3,028 figure can be reached if you add up all the planned Labour tax rises over the years until 2020 – so the Tories aren't wrong.

However, the IFS criticised this simplistic method of calculating tax as 'at best unhelpful'.

The IFS has also helpfully cleared up a few other mathematical misdemeanours being perpetrated by the Tories; namely the reason why Labour needs to raise tax.

The Conservatives say Labour's support of the Charter for Budget Responsibility would mean it would need to save £30 billion a year. The Charter for Budget Responsibility was voted on in parliament in January and commits to tightening the nation's purse strings.

But according to the IFS, a commitment to the charter would mean £6 billion of savings would need to be made, not £30 billion. Quite a difference.

Confusing numbers
Using figures to bamboozle individuals is nothing new, and is a clever way to make people think they, in David Cameron's words, are about to have their pockets picked.

What we have to remember is that Cameron has already picked the pockets of thousands of people who have just pennies left with cuts to benefits and he is about to take a further £12 billion from them, although this huge sum is as yet unidentified and will remain so until after the election.

Whatever the colour of the government come May, I think it is fair to say that further cuts are needed and will be felt across the country. Let's leave the lies, damned lies, and Tory statistics until 12 months time when we can see what the real damage is.