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Tory conference round-up - including fuel freeze until 2015
PLANS to give married couples a tax break have been backed by Worcester’s MP - who says his intervention has paid off.
Robin Walker has been lobbying Chancellor George Osborne hard behind the scenes for the policy to be brought about.
From April 2015, married couples paying the basic rate of income tax will be able to transfer £1,000 of their tax free allowance to their spouse.
The Government estimates it will help four million married couples, who will save up to £200 million.
Around 15,000 couples in civil partnerships will also benefit from the move.
Mr Walker said: “I had written to the Chancellor on the number of occasions urging its introduction, because marriage is such an important and valued institution.
“This is about showing support for an institution that has proven itself over the passage of time, in which people demonstrate the strongest values of love and commitment to each other.
“By reducing the tax burden on hardworking people across the board we can make a real difference both in making work pay and helping with the cost of living.”
It follows the launch of the party’s conference in Manchester, where Mr Osborne has unveiled plans to force people on Jobseeker’s Allowance to work for their money.
Unemployed people who have failed to find a job after completing the national Work Programme face having to do 30 hours a week completing tasks like cooking meals for pensioners, litter picking or cleaning up graffiti.
It will apply to around 200,000 long-term Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, who will also get the option of visiting the job centre daily to spend the day applying for work opportunities.
Some of them will also end up on mandatory programmes designed to resolve underlying problems like mental health troubles, speech impediments or alcoholism.
Those who refuse face losing four weeks’ benefit the first time they breach it, and three months’ worth of cash the second time around.
Mr Osborne has also announced fuel duty would be frozen until 2015 during his set-piece speech to party members this afternoon.
He said: “Provided we can find the savings to pay for it, I want to freeze fuel duty for the rest of this Parliament.
"Conservatives don't just talk about being on the side of hard-working people. We show it day in day out in the policies we deliver.”
Labour Treasury spokeswoman Rachel Reeves said: "After three wasted years, George Osborne still has nothing concrete to say on helping families with the rising cost of living.
"The few things he has said are already unraveling. His panicky announcement on fuel duty turns out to be just an aspiration if he can find savings elsewhere.
"This is on top of £1.6 billion of unfunded commitments already made by ministers during the party conference season.
"The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said the marriage tax break will help just 28 per cent of married couples and only 15 per cent of families with children.
"And his work scheme turns out to be less ambitious than Labour's compulsory jobs guarantee."
The Government says it will freeze fuel duty until the 2015 general election, as long as it can find the savings from elsewhere to pay for it.
The old Labour Government's timetable had recommended a 2p-per-litre rise in September 2014.
The move has been welcomed by retailers in Worcestershire, although some say it should be cut.
Roy Devlia, who runs Powick Service Station, said: "This is good news that it's being frozen.
"But whether people notice, I don't know - taxation on fuel is so high you could argue it should be cut.
"Then, it would make a real difference."
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