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Tories ‘planned child benefit cuts’

Posted by Warren Fyfe on April 30, 2015 in Warren Fyfe Site
Danny Alexander

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said the Conservatives proposed to “slash” child benefit while the two parties were in government together.

Mr Alexander said he was “lifting the lid” on plans including limiting child benefit and tax credit to two children.

He claimed his party blocked the move, which he said was worth £8bn.

The Conservatives said they recognised none of the proposals, which were “definitely not” party policy.

“This is desperate stuff from Liberal Democrats who are now willing to say anything to try and get attention,” a Conservative spokesman added.

In other election news, with a week to go before polling day:

  • David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are preparing for the BBC’s Question Time Election Leaders Special, where they will face questions separately from a studio audience
  • In separate programmes, the UKIP, Plaid Cymru and SNP leaders will also take questions
  • The Scottish Sun has endorsed the SNP – while the London-based edition backed the Conservatives
  • Ed Miliband will claim Labour activists have held four million “doorstep conversations” with voters so far in the campaign
  • David Cameron will say his party would lift 500,000 young people out of tax with its pledge to raise the personal allowance

The Conservatives have said they want to find a further £12bn in savings to the welfare bill, which they argue is achievable given that £21bn has been saved in the past five years.

They have yet to specify where the savings will be made, and Mr Alexander said the list of measures he revealed to the Guardian “shines a light” on the scale of cuts the Tories would have to make to working-age benefits.

The Guardian said the measures were contained in a paper circulated to the four most senior Cabinet members by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith in 2012.

Mr Alexander said the proposals also included removing child benefit from 16 to 19 year-olds, as well as means testing the payment.

The coalition government has already restricted child benefit – aimed at helping parents cope with the cost of bringing up children – for parents earning £50,000 a year.

Welfare

Policy guide: Where the parties stand

Mr Alexander said: “I’m lifting the lid on this now because the Conservatives are trying to con the British people by keeping their planned cuts secret until after the election.”

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “This evidence confirms the Tories’ secret plan to cut family budgets.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s The World at One on Wednesday, Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove said working age benefits would be “frozen not cut” for two years under his party’s proposals.

Leaders questioned

The welfare row comes ahead of the special edition of Question Time, broadcast from Leeds Town Hall and shown live on BBC One and broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live from 20:00 to 21:30 BST.

Mr Cameron will be first up, followed by Mr Miliband and then Mr Clegg. They will each appear separately to face audience questions, with David Dimbleby hosting. Each leader will be questioned for 30 minutes. The questions, which will be submitted by audience members on the night, will vary between the different leaders.

There will also be separate Ask the Leader programmes. On BBC One in Scotland, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon will take questions at 21:30 BST, and in Wales it will be the turn of Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood after the News at Ten.

At that time, viewers in England will be able to watch Nigel Farage taking questions from an audience in Birmingham. This programme will be shown later in the evening on BBC One in Wales.

The Question Time show is the final programme of four that were agreed after drawn-out negotiations between parties and broadcasters over the timing and line-up of this year’s election TV debates.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32526461#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

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