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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 13:55 GMT
Labour: Pensions and welfare policies

Find out more about Labour policy on pensions and welfare


PENSIONS

Labour has refused to restore the link between pensions and earnings demanded by some.

Instead, Chancellor Gordon Brown has given a big one-off increase in the basic state pension and targeted extra help at the poorest pensioners.

The state pension will go up by 5 per week for single people and 8 per week for couples from April 2001. The winter fuel allowance will be increased to 200 a year.

Mr Brown is also increasing the Minimum Income Guarantee for single pensioners to 100 a week by 2003, when it will start to go up in line with earnings.

He is also planning more help for pensioners on low and medium incomes in 2003 through a new Pensioners Credit.

Labour believes in encouraging people to save for their retirement through second pensions rather than relying solely on the state.


FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN

Families with children are at the heart of Labour's programme.

The party is committed to providing extra help for families on low incomes and has pledged to eliminate child poverty within 20 years.

A key feature of Labour's social policy is the move from social security benefits to tax credits.

In his March budget, Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that, from April, the new Children's Tax Credit will give an extra 10 a week, up from the original 8.50 announced last year.

The credit is available to families with one or more children under 16.

Mr Brown also increased maternity pay from 60 to 100 a week in 2003 and increased Working Families Tax Credit by 5 a week.

In 2003, Labour plans to combine existing tax credits and benefits aimed at families - except child benefit - into a new integrated 'child credit'.

And Labour wants to boost the prospects for all children to accumulate savings.

It has proposed giving a 500 baby bond to all children at birth, on condition that it was saved until the child's 18th birthday, with three additional payments of 100 during the intervening years. Families above a certain income would receive a smaller payment.

Labour has also pledged free nursery school places for all three and four-year-olds.


HELP FOR THE UNEMPLOYED

Labour's welfare-to-work programme, the New Deal, represents a break with the party's traditional philosophy on welfare.

For the first time under a Labour government the unemployed were compelled to take work or face losing benefits.

Labour plans a further big expansion of the New Deal, to subsidise jobs and training not only for the young but the long-term unemployed as well.

It will also target more government money at areas of high unemployment through its regional development funds and 15 Employment Zones.

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