Tax cuts and pensioner offer to form basis of Tory manifesto

Politics

The Conservatives will put their offer to pensioners at the heart of their election manifesto when it is published tomorrow.

The manifesto will reiterate already-announced pledges to introduce the so-called “triple lock plus” for pensioners – which will create a new “age-related” tax-free allowance – as well as promises not to increase major taxes.

Its publication follows a torrid four days for the prime minister, who has been forced to quash rumours he considered resigning over the backlash he received over his early departure from the D-Day commemorations last week.

In an attempt to get back on the front foot, Mr Sunak will stress that as the “party of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson” the Tories believe in “sound money” and will ensure “we have lower welfare so we can lower taxes”.

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Other policies Mr Sunak will repeat at the launch tomorrow include:

• Moving the threshold to pay high income child benefit charge for single-earner families to £120,000, up from £60,000 currently
• A guarantee not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT
• A workplace pension guarantee to not introduce any new taxes on pensions or increase existing ones for the whole of the next parliament
• A commitment not to change number of council tax bands, undertake a council tax revaluation or cut council tax discounts
• An ambition to abolish national insurance when financially responsible to do so

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Labour has denounced the pledges as a “desperate series of unfunded commitments” and said the manifesto amounts to “the most expensive panic attack in history”.

But the prime minister will attempt to draw a key dividing line with the Labour Party by claiming that Sir Keir Starmer’s refusal to match his commitment on the triple lock plus amounts to a new “retirement tax”.

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He is expected to say: “We Conservatives have a plan to give you financial security. We will enable working people to keep more of the money you earn because you have earned it and have the right to choose what to spend it on.

“Keir Starmer takes a very different view. He says he’s a socialist, and we know what socialists always do: take more of your money.

“We are the party of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson, a party, unlike Labour, that believes in sound money.

“In this party, we believe that it is morally right that those who can work do work, and that hard work is rewarded with people being able to keep more of their own money. We will ensure that we have lower welfare so we can lower taxes.”

While mandatory national service for 18-year-olds was among the first pledges unveiled by Mr Sunak that is intended to reach younger voters, it is policies aimed at the so-called “grey vote” that has garnered the most attention so far.

Other key policy pledges from Mr Sunak include an expansion of levelling up funding with a pledge to give 30 towns £20m each and plans to boost community care by expanding Pharmacy First and building 100 new GP surgeries and modernising 150 more.

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The headline triple lock plus policy will see the income tax personal allowance rise for pensioners, giving them a tax cut worth around £95 in 2025-26, rising to £275 in 2029-30.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow paymaster general, rejected the Conservatives’ attack on his party for not implementing their policies, arguing it was not “the Labour Party’s job to copy them”.

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“It is our responsibility to call that out and that is what we are doing today,” he added. “Whatever the Tories announce tomorrow, the money is not there.”

Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesperson, said the Tory manifesto “isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on”.

“The only guarantee they’re good for is unmitigated failure,” she said.

“The wheels have already fallen off their campaign, and the promises they make are just a desperate attempt to rescue Rishi Sunak.”

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