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General election latest: Top Treasury civil servant warned Tories over Labour tax claim, letter reveals

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The Treasury’s permanent secretary warned ministers that Tory claims about Labour’s tax plans “should not be presented as having been produced by the Civil Service”, a letter has revealed. 

Rishi Sunak’s claim that Labour would put up taxes by £2,000 is largely based on analysis conducted by the Treasury, commissioned by the Conservatives, which examined the costs of Labour’s planned policies. 

However, James Bowler, the Treasury’s top civil servant, said in a June 3 letter replying to a Labour frontbencher that he had told ministers to be careful about how they presented the work done by his department.

Replying to Darren Jones, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Mr Bowler said: “As you will expect, civil servants were not involved in the production or presentation of the Conservative Party’s document ‘Labour’s Tax Rises’ or in the calculation of the total figure used.

“In your letter you highlight that the £38bn figure used in the Conservative Party’s publication includes costs beyond those provided by the Civil Service and published online by HM Treasury. 

“I agree that any costings derived from other sources or produced by other organisations should not be presented as having been produced by the Civil Service. I have reminded ministers and advisers that this should be the case.”

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, said on May 17 when he published the “Labour Tax Rises” document that it was “analysis by independent civil servants at the Treasury on Labour’s plans for office” and it showed a “£38 billion black hole in their plans”. The document itself stated that “almost every costing contained here has been conducted by HM Treasury”. 

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, said the letter showed Mr Sunak’s tax claim was “categorically untrue” but the Tories insisted their assessment of Labour’s plans were “fair”. 

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