Ed Balls didn’t have a good day yesterday with his poor Autumn Statement performance, but he’s had a slightly better day today, with an analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that confirms families will be ‘substantially’ worse off in 2015/16 than they were in 2009/10. Balls wants to keep talking about the cost of living: now he’s got the IFS’ analysis on his side too.
Except the IFS didn’t quite back him to the hilt. The analysis of the parties’ approaches to the living standards question concluded that while the measure Balls used to calculate that working people are £1,600 a year worse off under the Coalition was ‘incomplete’, it is ‘not giving a misleading impression of changes in average living standards’. In politics, that is sufficiently generous phrasing for a Shadow Chancellor to say ‘they think I’m right’. And sure enough, Labour has. Chris Leslie has seized on the IFS analysis, saying: ‘The independent verdict from the IFS is that people will be substantially worse off after five years under David Cameron.’ The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury also pointed out the flaws that the IFS found in the measures that the Tories use on cost of living, which include the incomes of charities and universities, rather than just domestic households.
The question is whether talking about the cost of living alone is enough to convince voters to turn to Labour. Snap polling from Ipsos MORI found that 40 per cent think that the government’s policies will improve the economy, compared to 38 per cent who think they will damage it. But the public agree more with Ed Balls’ line that George Osborne isn’t doing enough about the cost of living than agree that Osborne’s plan for the economy is working. Labour thinks this means that it’s still all to play for.
This analysis comes from tonight’s Evening Blend, a free email round-up of the day’s political news. Subscribe for free here.Tags: Autumn Statement 2013, Ed Balls, Institute for Fiscal Studies, UK politics