Whichever party wins next Thursday, they will be forced to turn to taxpayers to cut Britain's huge 160 billion-a-year deficit, putting up the basic rate of income tax by 6 per cent over the coming decade.
For an average earner on 25,000 a year, that would mean income tax shooting up from 3,705 to 4,817, a rise of well over 1,000 a year.
The National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) also warns that those tax rises would have to be combined with a 1 per cent cut in public-sector pay in real terms over the next five years.
The alarming portrait offers a further insight into the level of cuts and tax rises which face voters over coming years. It follows a report by another think-tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which warned earlier this week that none of the main contenders for Downing Street had come close to showing the true level of cuts and tax rises required.
The Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all agree that the annual deficit needs to be cut in half within four years, in order to prevent a Greek-style economic collapse. But the IFS found that, at best, the parties had come up with around 25 per cent of the cuts and tax rises necessary to complete the job.
SNP leader Alex Salmond yesterday launched a fresh attack on these plans yesterday, saying that voters now faced an "iceberg election".
"They (the three UK parties] have made visible only a fraction of their plans, leaving out billions of pounds of additional cuts. And like an iceberg, it is the enormous bit that remains unseen that poses the greatest risk and will cause the most damage," he said.
Mr Salmond said he opposed the four-year deficit reduction timetable set by Labour, the LibDems and the Tories, and claimed that it would be better "to look over a 12 to 15 year period" when reducing Britain's public debt.
However, City analysts warned the crisis in Greece had now "crystallised" the dangers to all countries, like Britain, which had huge debts, and speedy action was necessary.
Economist Jonathan Loynes of Capital Economics warned: "The crisis in Greece crystallises worries about the dire state of the public finances in many countries in the same way that the collapse of Lehmans raised fears of a domino effect throughout the financial system."
Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable added: "Greece is first in line because they had a horrendous deficit … enormous public debt with problems like public sector pensions, which are out of control."
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Eddie Barnes: I got the time of it - 9:49pm. That was when the camera panned away from the three leaders and onto a member of the audience; a Brummy teacher.. . .
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