Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Tories 'to act on unemployment'

Conservative leader David Cameron says his party will work to ensure people have more money through the tax system

David Cameron has said his party will not "stand by and do nothing" about rising unemployment and will offer "tax changes" to help keep people in work.

He said the Conservatives had a moral obligation to help people who were laid off, or were at risk of being so.

On Tuesday the party would announce tax changes to help encourage firms to "take on workers and to keep workers".

Vince Cable said both Labour and the Tories were "desperately anxious" to follow Lib Dem policies on tax cuts.

Reports suggest the Conservatives will unveil tax cut proposals on Tuesday which may include a National Insurance payments holiday for new workers, to encourage employers to take on new staff.

'Stiff tests'

Addressing a Conservative women's conference Mr Cameron did not outline the specifics of the party's proposals, but said he would be making a "very clear announcement about some tax changes that will help to encourage businesses to take on workers and keep workers".

He said the party would set "very stiff tests" for the government, and themselves, on any proposals, so that it was clearly explained where the money was coming from.

It's a personal tragedy, an economic waste and a source of social decay
David Cameron

He warned against borrowing without limit and said proposals must not "impair, permanently" the public finances.

He said there had been an "enormous budget deficit even before the recession began" and said the figures for the next few years were "truly frightening".

"We want to help, we will help, and we will put money back in people's pockets and we will say where it comes from," he said during a Q&A session.

'Destroy lives'

He said the government was in "complete confusion" over public spending, borrowing and tax plans while the Conservatives would send a "very clear message" about how they would help people through a recession.

In his speech he said unemployment should not be seen as an "unavoidable consequence of recession".

He said people's "biggest worry" was redundancy and unemployment predictions for next year were "grim".

Clearly people on low incomes have a higher propensity to spend
Vince Cable
Lib Dems

"The Conservative Party will not stand aside and allow unemployment to claim livelihoods and destroy lives. We will not walk on by while people lose their jobs," he said.

"We have a moral obligation to help those who have lost their job through no fault of their own, or are in danger of doing so," he said.

Mr Cameron told the conference unemployment was bad for society as it could contribute towards family breakdown, educational failure, drug abuse and crime.

And he said the longer people were out of work, the harder it was to find a job as people lost self esteem and their skills became outdated.

On Monday Gordon Brown told GMTV the government would "look at everything" to boost the economy, including tax cuts and public spending rises, but said announcements would be made in the pre-Budget report.

The Liberal Democrats are already committed to cutting tax for lower and middle earners.

During a Commons debate earlier, the party's Treasury spokesman Vince Cable accused both the government and the Conservatives of being "desperately anxious" to run onto the ground already "staked out" by his party on tax cuts.

He urged the government to back his party's policy, of cutting the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 16p - and said with Britain facing a sharp recession it should be paid for by the "relatively wealthy".

"We argue this primarily on grounds of fairness," he said.

"It happens to be appropriate to the context in which we operate because clearly people on low incomes have a higher propensity to spend."

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