The political parties are spelling out - and sometimes not spelling out - what they would do about VAT.
Tim Harford gives
his analysis of the tax claims made so far in the election campaign.
10 APRIL 2010: MARRIAGE TAX BREAKS
The Conservatives have announced their long-awaited proposals for married couples, pledging to give an annual £150 tax break to married couples and civil partners.
Around four million couples earning under £44,000, where one partner does not use their full personal allowance, would be eligible.
Tim Harford examined whether the Tories' proposals add up.
08 APRIL 2010: IMMIGRANT WORKERS
John Humphrys challenged Gordon Brown with an Office for National Statistics figure that claims 97% of new jobs go to foreign-born workers.
The Prime Minister dismissed this as 'simply not the case'.
Immigration minister Phil Woolas then joined the debate by accusing the media of misinterpreting the data.
Tim Harford spoke to Eddie Mair on the
programme about who got the figures right.
08 APRIL 2010: BIAS
David Cameron must secure a national swing of 6.9 percent from Labour to the Conservatives to win the election with an outright majority, a feat no party has achieved since 1945.
In the general election of 2005 the Conservatives won a quarter of a million more votes than Labour in England, but 92 fewer MPs.
Speaking on the
programme, Tim Harford and Lord Patten, former chairman of the Conservative Party, examined whether the electoral system is biased against the Tories.
07 APRIL 2010: NATIONAL INSURANCE
The Conservatives have criticised a planned increase in National Insurance saying the extra 1% is "a tax on jobs" that could "stifle the recovery" - and dozens of leading business figures have backed that position.
The government has countered that the extra money raised, some £6bn, is needed to maintain public services.
Tim Harford assessed the numbers in an interview with Eddie Mair on the
07 APRIL 2010: DEFICIT
The campaign gets underway with speeches from each of the three main party leaders.
David Cameron appealed to "the great ignored".
But, as Tim Harford explains on
, the real 'great ignored' is, in fact, a number: the deficit.
30 MARCH 2010: THREE CHANCELLORS
On Monday 29 March, Channel 4 hosted a live debate between Chancellor Alistair Darling and the two men vying for his job, the Conservative George Osborne and Liberal Democrat Vincent Cable.
Mr Osborne said that the UK would spend more on servicing the interest on the national debt next year than on "educating our children". Is that true?
Alistair Darling and Vincent Cable clashed over the apparent failure of state-supported banks to meet targets for lending to small businesses.
Tim Harford discussed the debate with Carolyn Quinn on the
programme. Sadly, they ran out of time just as Tim was about to reveal whether Mr Cable was as prescient about our current economic condition as he claimed.
On Monday in the House of Commons Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove claimed that of the 80,000 pupils who qualify for free school meals (an indicator of relative poverty), only 45 get to Oxford or Cambridge.
The Secretary of State for Schools Ed Balls said Mr Gove had got his sums wrong.
He had, he said, "attempted to correct the hon. Gentleman on his statistical failings, but he keeps refusing to listen".
Tim Harford refereed the spat with Evan Davis on the
8 JANUARY 2010: WIND FARMS
The government has announced that permission has been granted for 6,000 offshore wind turbines to be built in UK waters as part of a £100bn programme.
It is claimed that turbines could generate up to 32 gigawatts of power, a quarter of the UK's electricity needs, and that 70,000 jobs could be created as a result of the investment.
The numbers sound impressive, but as Tim Harford discussed with Eddie Mair on the
programme, they did not necessarily add up.
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