Brown ‘raised tax by 50 per cent’

Labour has raised tax by an extra 51 per cent in real terms since it has been in power, according to damning new research by the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The centre-right group claims the tax burden has increased massively since 1997, hitting ordinary families hard and suppressing the disposable income required for economic growth.

The group also says the cost of administering the tax system has increased by at least 75 per cent while the size of the British tax code has doubled.

“For all Gordon Brown’s boasting, his economic stewardship has failed people on every count,” said Matthew Elliott, the Taxpayers’ Alliance chief executive.

“Ordinary taxpayers have seen their bills rise and rise but our services have not improved in return. With the credit crunch tightening its grip, it’s clear that the country is poorly prepared for tough economic conditions, and it is Gordon Brown who is to blame.”

Commenting, financial analyst Daniel Barnes of MyFinances.co.uk, said the current financial crisis was too complex to blame on one government, but that Mr Brown did have to take some responsibility.

“A credit crunch, rocketing fuel prices and spiralling commodity costs have swamped our national economy,” he told politics.co.uk.

“But taking this massive effect out of the equation, the UK economy was never going to flourish in 2008/09. If Mr Brown had prepared he could have slowed that bite down, but there’s nothing he could have done to fully protect us from the current wave of economic chaos.”

A Treasury spokesman flatly refuted the group’s calculations.

“The claims made about the UK’s tax burden are wrong,” he said.

“The fact is that since 1997, all families on average earnings or less, have seen their tax burden fall or remain unchanged.

“Tax burdens for low income families with children in UK have fallen significantly.”

The damning Taxpayers’ Alliance report cites faults in Mr Brown management of economic growth, workforce productivity, tax levels and complexity, inflation, pensions, energy policy, public service quality, value for money, real disposable income, national debt, welfare dependency and other key measures.

It finds that while the UK may have outshone its European neighbours it lagged behind other English-speaking countries.

It renews the accusation about Mr Brown’s ‘tax raid’ on pensions, saying the chancellor cost private pension funds between £100 to £150 billion through lower dividends and reduced growth.

Mr Brown’s record in the Treasury, previously impossible to challenge as the UK experienced year on year of economic growth, has come under sustained criticism since he walked through the doors of Number 10.

The Conservative line of attack is that he “didn’t fix the roof while the sun was shining”, but critics have pointed out that the Tories never objected to any of Labour’s public spending announcements during that period.