Parties' poll pledges 'too costly'

SCOTLAND'S political parties have made a series of election promises they may be unable to afford, independent academic research has revealed.

An analysis of the parties' manifestos found the Liberal Democrats made 89 uncosted pledges, Labour 77, the Greens 39 and the SNP 34. The Tories made 17, Solidarity five and the Scottish Senior Citizens Party one.

The Glasgow-based Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR) used figures supplied by the political parties to calculate how much they would each have to spend on their promises if they were in government at Holyrood.

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The CPPR estimated there would be an additional 3.4 billion coming to Scotland from the Treasury by 2010-11. However, 50 per cent of that will be taken up in staff costs, so a new administration would only have 1.7 billion to spend.

The Conservatives' costed spending stands at 917 million, while there would be 100 million raised in costed efficiency savings.

Switching existing spending to new areas would free 778 million, making a total of 1.65 billion available for uncosted spending.

Labour's costed spending plans come to 1.8 billion, and propose to make 1.2 billion in efficiency savings. They have 1.1 billion free for uncosted spending.

The Lib Dems' spending comes to 1.2 billion, with 500 million from efficiency savings and 182 million from switching existing spending to new commitments, leaving them 1.2 billion for uncosted spending.

The SNP's costed spending comes to 2.5 billion. The party plans 1.3 billion in efficiency savings and to move 1.3 billion from existing spending. It has 1.8 billion available for uncosted spending.

Jo Armstrong, the author of the research, said: "I question whether the amount of money available in the next three years will be adequate to fund the manifestos."