Shropshire Star

Fact check: The ‘tax burden’ and immigration projections

Round-up of claims from the campaign trail checked by Full Fact, including projections of immigration levels and tax.

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An evening view of the Palace of Westminster.

This summary of claims from the campaign trail has been compiled by Full Fact, the UK’s largest fact checking organisation working to find, expose and counter the harms of bad information, as part of the PA news agency’s Election Check 24.

What do Labour and Conservative plans mean for the ‘tax burden’?

Over the course of the election we’ve heard lots of competing claims about tax and the so-called ‘tax burden’ — a term which refers to tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

Several senior Labour figures have claimed the tax burden is the highest in 70 years.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), this was the case in 2022/23 when the tax burden reached 36.3%—the highest level since 1949 (when it stood at 36.9%).

It’s since fallen slightly in 2023/24, to 36.1%. But current OBR forecasts—which are based on existing government plans—show the tax burden is set to increase in each of the next five years, reaching 37.1% in 2028/29.

Now that the two biggest parties have unveiled their manifestos, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has looked at what they might mean for the tax burden. It estimates that under both Labour and the Conservatives the tax burden is set to increase over the next five years.

Under Labour’s plans the IFS says the tax burden would increase at a slightly higher rate than under current OBR forecasts, reaching 37.4% by 2028/29. This would be the highest level on record.

The Conservatives’ plans would see the tax burden increase at a slightly lower rate than under current forecasts, reaching 36.8% by 2028/29—still the third highest level on record.

Immigration projections

A graphic shared by Reform UK on Facebook with the words “immigration isn’t working” claims the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says 14 million people will arrive “in the next 12 years”.

The 14 million figure appears to be based on the latest ONS national population projections. But it’s not correct to say these suggest 14 million immigrants will arrive in the UK “in the next 12 years”.

That’s because they cover a period beginning in mid-2021. The ONS estimates that in the 15 years between mid-2021 and mid-2036 a total of 13.7 million people will migrate long-term to the UK. But we’re already several years into this period.

The ONS told Full Fact that its projections indicate that 10.4 million people will migrate to the UK between mid-2024 and mid-2036.

These figures also don’t account for the number of people expected to emigrate from the UK.

Factoring this in, over the next 12 years net migration to the UK is projected to total around 4.5 million.

Election Check 24

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