Will Labour increase tax? Reality of tax policy after '£2,000 per family' Rishi Sunak claim

Handout photo provided by ITV of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (right) and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during the ITV General Election debate at MediaCity in Salford
-Credit: (Image: PA)

During Tuesday night's leaders' debate, Rishi Sunak repeatedly claimed that Labour was planning tax increases that would cost working families £2,000 each. He repeated the figure over and over again. Sir Keir Starmer said the claims were "absolute garbage" and said Mr Sunak and the Conservatives "put pretend policies into the Treasury and get a false readout".

But where does that figure come from and what is the reality? Is Labour really planning tax policies that will cost the average family £2,000? Here's what we know.

The Labour party has said in recent weeks that it will not raise income tax, national insurance or VAT - something Mr Sunak also agreed his party would not do during the debate. Labour's website says "Labour will not raise income tax, national insurance or VAT." Mr Starmer said it would raise more tax revenue through policies like closing loopholes which allow non-dom people to avoid tax and by taxing energy giants. The Labour website says it will pay for its "first steps in government" by:

  • Ending tax breaks for private schools, which exempt them from VAT and business rates

  • Closing the loopholes which allow some ‘non-dom’ mega rich people who live in the UK to avoid paying tax

  • Introducing a proper windfall tax on the huge profits the energy giants are making.

At the end of May, Labour's shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the BBC "What I want and Keir [Starmer] wants is taxes on working people to be lower and we certainly won't be increasing income tax or national insurance if we win at the election."

In a report produced on behalf of the Conservative party in May, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt says that "policy commitments made by Labour [show] that Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves are making billions of pounds of unfunded spending commitments with no plan to pay for them". He says this figure amounts to £38.5bn over five years. and adds: "This means one of two things – either Labour will break their fiscal rules or they will have to put taxes up."

So where does this figure of £2,000, which is also given in an ad campaign being run by the Conservatives, come from?

Anthony Reuben of BBC Verify explains: "They have come up with this figure by adding up how much they claim Labour's spending commitments would cost, and dividing this by the number of UK households with at least one person working."

Which does not back Mr Sunak's claim that Labour is planning to put the average working family's tax bill up by £2,000.