Labour slated the ‘ludicrous’ analysis of its Warm Homes plan, which was unveiled in 2021 to save 19 million families living in draughty homes cash on their energy bills
The Tories have been accused of ordering civil servants to draw up a “bogus” dossier attacking Labour’s home insulation plans in a pre-election skirmish.
The Treasury published a costing of Labour’s Warm Homes plan, which was unveiled in 2021 to save 19 million families living in draughty homes cash on their energy bills. Keir Starmer’s party said at the time it would spend up to £6 billion a year on the plan by the second half of the parliament at the latest.
A 10-year costing document produced by officials suggested the plan could cost between £12 billion and £15 billion a year. However it undermined its own analysis by pointing out officials had been ordered by Tory aides not to apply any spending limits – despite Labour setting a £6 billion annual cap on spending.
Special advisers also instructed officials to “cost the policy without reference to what Labour have said” and assume all installations are funded by the Treasury, rather than a mix of grants and loans from banks as Labour had planned. No allowances were also made for economies of scale, where cash can be saved across larger projects.
A Labour spokesperson said: “This costing is ludicrous and uses bogus assumptions. They have costed someone else’s policy, not Labour’s.”
The Tories, who enthusiastically promoted the analysis, have not always approved of opposition costings. In 2010, Tory sources described claims of a £34billion black in their spending plans as “a dodgy dossier full of lies”. The-then David Cameron said the document was “complete junk”.
Former Treasury permanent secretary Lord Macpherson said these costings should be ignored. He said: “Over the next 9 months, we will have to [tolerate] many an ‘official Treasury’ costing of Opposition policy. Since time immemorial, whatever the party in power, these costings have had little if any credibility. Political advisers determine the assumptions.”
Economist Jonathan Portes said: “HM Treasury says “The Conservative Party asked us what would happen if Labour spent twice as much as their actual policy, and we concluded it would cost twice as much”. Absurd but largely harmless unless anyone in the media takes it remotely seriously.”
Jess Ralston, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “These appear to be politically-motivated figures, rather than a proper assessment. They deflect from the failure of the Government to get homes insulated which has left the most vulnerable choosing between eating and heating during the gas price crisis.”
Catherine Haddon, from the Institute for Government think tank, said such costings were a “political tool”. She tweeted: “Costing opposition policies has happened since at least the 1950s. It’s very much a political tool. The Treasury only do the calculations based on assumptions about the policy which have to be given to them by ministers or special advisers.”