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Can a Labour government balance the books?

In its last manifesto, the Labour Party pledged to bring the water, rail and energy sectors back into public ownership, while introducing a Fiscal Credibility Rule. But is it possible to do both and ensure the economic future of the UK? ICAEW is working with the Fabian Society to explore the tough spending choices that would face a Corbyn government.

Throughout June and July 2018, ICAEW and the Fabian Society will be assessing how Labour can realise aspirations of its 2017 manifesto, in the context of a sound financial stewardship of the UK's economy.

Over the coming weeks, Ross Campbell, ICAEW's Director, Public Sector and the Fabian Society's General Secretary, Andrew Harrop, will be sharing their thoughts on:

  1. How can the Labour party achieve higher public spending and fiscal sustainability?
  2. How can fiscal and accounting rules be reformed to support investment and the public ownership of assets?
  3. What approach should be taken to the devolution of public finances, local taxes and geographic fairness?

Roundtable discussion with shadow ministers

On 11 July, ICAEW hosted a roundtable event, with guest speakers Peter Dowd MP, shadow chief secretary, Anneleise Dodds MP, shadow treasury minister, and Jim McMahon MP, shadow devolution minister. At the half day event, the speakers offered their analysis of the key questions raised in this project, and listened to the insights and opinions of policy makers and finance industry representatives who also attended the event. The discussion was summarised by Ross Campbell and Andrew Harrop at a webinar on 19th July, and will contribute to a final report to be published later in the summer.

How can the Labour party achieve higher public spending and fiscal sustainability?

8 June - Rebalancing the books

Five years ago, the Fabian Society’s 2013 commission on future spending choices published proposals for public spending under a Miliband-led government. In the intervening years both the economic and the political terrain has changed beyond recognition. 

15 June - Realising the left's ambitions

ICAEW's Director of Public Sector, Ross Campbell, argues that an equilibrium must be struck between creating the conditions to encourage economic growth, running government efficiently and setting sustainable tax rates, in order to ensure fiscal sustainability.

How can fiscal and accounting rules be reformed to support investment and the public ownership of assets?

22 June - Fiscal policy for an activist state

The Labour party’s 2017 manifesto promised a decisive shift in the economic role of the state. Economic activism and fiscal prudence must go hand in hand under a Corbyn government, writes Andrew Harrop. 

29 June - Reforming fiscal rules 

This issue is about how the Chancellor sets targets for overall public expenditure and investment, as well as how Treasury controls the way departments spend their allocation of capital and resource budgets, argues Ross Campbell.

What approach should be taken to the devolution of public finances, local taxes and geographic fairness?

11 July - Walking a fine line

Fiscal geography and local taxation are controversial issues in UK politics. Successful reform goes unnoticed, while failures and botches are punished hard. It would be no surprise if a future Labour government were to choose the path of indecision or incremental revision over radical reform, argues Andrew Harrop.

Andrew Harrop, General Secretary of the Fabian Society Andrew Harrop General Secretary, The Fabian Society

Andrew has been General Secretary of the Fabian Society since 2011. In that time has led the society’s research on economic and social policy, as well as on the future of the Labour Party. He has been a Labour Party activist since he was 18 and was a parliamentary candidate in the 2005 general election. He was previously director of policy and public affairs for Age UK and before that a researcher for the New Policy Institute and a backbench Labour MP.

6 July - devolution of public finance

There is an imbalance in the UK economy, as commercial activity is heavily skewed towards London and the Southeast. Ross Campbell, ICAEW's Director of Public Sector, argues that increased devolution is desirable, but may not lead to stronger businesses in all regions. Considerable central government intervention will be required to ‘level’ the playing field.

Ross Campbell Ross Campbell Director, Public Sector, ICAEW

Ross is the Public Sector Director at ICAEW, where he leads strategy to improve standards in the management of the Public Finances in the UK and internationally. Before ICAEW, Ross was the accounting policy lead and financial reporting standard setter for the UK Central Government at HM Treasury. Other recent senior roles in government include being the Group Chief Accountant at the Ministry of Defence and the Director at the National Audit Office responsible for the value for money review of Defence.