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Saturday, 9 December, 2000, 15:52 GMT
Brown offers 'prosperity for all'
Chancellor Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown: Promises to 'raise living standards'
Chancellor Gordon Brown has pledged to offer tax breaks for families in the approach to the next General Election.

Mr Brown said his proposal to boost children's tax credit would amount to a 2.5p cut in income tax for the average family.

He said Labour would fight the next election under the message of "prosperity for all", with further tax cuts aimed at workers, pensioners and the environment.

The chancellor, speaking to a business meeting of Labour's National Policy Forum at the party's London headquarters, rejected cuts proposed by the Tories earlier this week as "irresponsible and indiscriminate".

Our approach to the budget and the manifesto will be a balanced approach designed to build prosperity for all

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown pledged to consider giving families more help in his next budget.

The new children's tax credit - due to begin in April - is set at 8.50 a week.

But Mr Brown said he aims to increase the payment to 10 a week, which he said equated to a 2.5p cut in the basic rate of income tax for the average family.

"The choice is clear," he said. "Between a Labour government that will back families and raise living standards and a Conservative Party that cannot be trusted on tax."

'Black hole'

Earlier this week, Conservative leader William Hague and shadow chancellor Michael Portillo said they would fund tax cuts by identifying savings of 8bn.

But Mr Brown pointed out that the Tories had only been able to demonstrate just over 5bn of specific cuts.

He repeated the Labour claim that the Tory spending plans would result in 16bn of cuts.

William Hague and Michael Portillo
Conservatives claim they can find 8bn savings
"This week the Tories revealed a policy for irresponsible and indiscriminate tax cuts they could not afford, paid for by deep cuts in public services they will not reveal, putting at risk the stability of the economy that we have worked to achieve," he said.

"Instead of the Tory black hole that will lead us back to boom and bust, our approach to the budget and the manifesto will be a balanced approach designed to build prosperity for all."

The chancellor also re-iterated his commitment to achieving full employment within a generation, and criticised Tory plans to place Labour's New Deal with an American-style Britain Works policy.

'Stealth taxes'

Mr Brown said voters faced a clear choice at the next election.

"Yes to targeted tax cuts for families so that we can help lower and middle income families. Yes to help for pensioners. Yes to help people save. Yes to help people invest.

"But we will not go along with irresponsible or indiscriminate cuts that undermine our stability."

No one will believe Labour's promises second time around

Tory spokeswoman
Tories poured scorn on Mr Brown's claim that the government was easing the tax burden on families.

A party spokeswoman said: "Before the last election Labour said they would not put up taxes at all.

"In the last three-and-a-half years they have put taxes up by stealth to the equivalent of almost 10p in the pound, hitting hard-working families hardest.

"Now, in the final months before the election, they have the gall to start talking about tax cuts.

"No one will believe Labour's promises second time around."

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tax takes centre stage
05 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hague pledges 8bn tax cuts
04 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Kennedy unveils Lib Dem 'bills'
01 Dec 00 | UK Politics
One for the election
20 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Tory fuel pledge 'too small'
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