Parties to trade blows over tax

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Published: Monday 6th April 2015 by The News Editor

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The Conservatives and Labour are set to spend the eighth day of the General Election campaign swapping barbs about “secret plans” to hike taxes.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls will claim the Tories plan to increase VAT, insisting the party has form in boosting the sales tax meaning nobody will believe denials issued by David Cameron and his team.

Mr Balls will repeat his challenge for the Tory leadership to also rule out further cuts to the top rate of income tax.

But shadow Treasury minister David Gauke hit back with an insistence Labour plans to impose higher rate tax on more people and increase national insurance contributions.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has blasted the Labour tax plan as “economically illiterate”.

Mr Balls is set to make his case in a speech in Yorkshire on the first day of the new tax year and with just 31 days until May 7.

Chancellor George Osborne will set out his plans on a regional tour of the south west alongside Mr Cameron as the campaigns get back into gear at the end of the Easter weekend.

Mr Osborne repeatedly refused to rule out cuts to the top rate of income tax in a TV interview on Easter Sunday.

In his speech, Mr Balls is expected to say: “Only yesterday George Osborne repeatedly refused to rule out cutting the top rate of tax again for the very richest.

“We know this is their secret plan – another big tax cut for millionaires. How can this be fair when working people across the country are still struggling?

“Plans for extreme spending cuts are a grave threat to our living standards and our public services. They mean deeper spending cuts in the next three years than the last five years.

“And the Tories have made £10 billion of unfunded tax promises – which they have still not told us how they will pay for.

“That’s why people will conclude that to make their sums add up the Tories will end up putting our NHS at risk and raising VAT again

“Tory governments always raise VAT. They did it last time and if they’re given another chance they’ll do it again – hitting millions of pensioners and working families.

“It’s the Tory way: millions pay more, millionaires pay less.”

Mr Gauke said: “Ed Balls and Ed Miliband must set out the details of their secret plan for £3,028 of tax rises on every working family – the British people have a right to know what these tax hikes are.

“Already Ed Balls has been forced to admit that Labour will drag a million more hardworking taxpayers into the 40p income tax rate. The reality is Labour also need a National Insurance rise to make their sums add up.

“Conservatives will freeze VAT, Income Tax and National Insurance. So the choice at this election is clear. Lower taxes under David Cameron. Or higher taxes under Ed Miliband and the SNP.”

Mr Clegg has hit out at both sides and warned only his party can ensure a balanced plan to clear the deficit.

In comments to GQ magazine, the Deputy Prime Minister warned Mr Osborne is a “very dangerous man” because of his plan to balance the books by spending cuts alone.

And on Mr Balls’ plans, he said in a statement: “Labour’s short-term economic plan will lead to mounting borrowing and leave taxpayers short by hundreds of pounds, which is unfair and reckless.

“Ed Balls and Ed Miliband’s tax plans are economically illiterate. Labour has already failed to commit the £8 billion needed for the NHS, and are now failing to give taxpayers the tax cut they deserve.”

The Liberal Democrats have placed a pledge to push the personal allowance to £12,500 at the heart of their election campaign.

Mr Clegg said this would give millions of people a tax cut worth almost £400 on top of the £825 a year they are better off because of personal allowance increases in the past five years.

In his speech, Mr Balls will insist Labour’s plan will not involve any increases in VAT or national insurance, or any changes to the basic and higher rates of income tax.

Labour is committed to restoring the additional rate to 50p, from 45p, as well as imposing a mansion tax, a levy on tobacco companies and closing tax loopholes.

To cut taxes for the lowest paid, Labour want to reintroduce the 10p starter rate of income tax, introduced and later scrapped by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor.

The Liberal Democrats suggest the change would be worth just £37 to taxpayers.

Setting out his plans, Mr Balls will say: “None of our manifesto commitments will need a penny of additional borrowing. Not a single one.

“The choice at this general election is clear. A choice between a Conservative Party which has a track record of breaking their promises on VAT and will raise it again after the election – or a Labour Party which has never raised VAT and will not raise VAT.

“A Tory way which means millions pay more while millionaires pay less, or Labour’s plan to back millions of working people, save our NHS and balance the books in a fair way. A Labour plan which backs the many, or the same old Tories always standing up for the few.”

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Ukip leader Nigel Farage is expected to continue campaigning in South Thanet.

A poll released over the weekend suggested Mr Farage is now in second place in the close three way marginal.

Mr Farage has vowed to quit as leader should he fail to enter Parliament after May’s General Election.

Published: Monday 6th April 2015 by The News Editor

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