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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 19:25 GMT

Conservatives: Welfare and pensions

Find out more about Conservative policy on pensions and welfare


The Conservatives say that they want to give more help to today's pensioners while beginning a radical overhaul of the pensions system.

The party says that it is committed to matching Labour's increase in the basic state pension.

It says that it will give an additional 4 a week to pensioners over 75, and 6.80 a week to couples over 75 from 2002.

To reduce means testing, the Tories will increase tax allowances for the over 65s by 2,000 from around 6,000 to more than 8,000, which, they claim, will lift a million pensioners out of the income tax system and so reduce the number relying on benefits.

The Tories will also abolish tax in most savings, which, they claim, will help many pensioners.

They also want to give pensioners the choice of replacing special payments, such as the winter fuel allowance and the over 75s exemption from the TV licence, with an overall boost to their weekly pension.

But in the long-term the Tories are committed to a winding down of the universal state pension.

They want to give young people a chance to opt out of National Insurance payments and contribute instead to their own pension fund.

And they have unveiled their own plans to reform long-term care, guaranteeing that people who make their own provision through savings for paying for nursing home care will not have to spend down their assets.


Tax cuts for middle income families and married couples with children are at the centre of the Conservatives' programme.

The party has pledged to boost Labour's Children's Tax Credit (CTC) by 200 a year for families with children under five, over and above any Labour increase, and open it up to higher earning families.

The Tories have also promised tax breaks for married couples where one partner stays at home to look after a child aged under 11, cutting their tax bill by 1,000 a year.

The new benefit would be limited to basic rate tax relief and would take effect from 2003/04.

The Tories have also promised to turn the Working Families Tax Credit into a benefit which would be paid directly to the caring parent, rather than through the workplace, which puts a burden on business.

They would also change the taper of the WFTC, so people on higher incomes receive less.

This is estimated to affect about 116,000 families and amounts to a tax rise of 150.

The party claims this will save 100m, which they will use to boost pensions.

The Conservatives say they would broadly match Labour's spending plans for low income families, while saving 1bn a year by simplifying the benefit system and cutting out fraud.

The Tories will also scrap tax on both the widowed parents allowance, which they claim will amount to a 20 a week increase in widowed parents' income, and scrap any stake their partner had in the government's State Earnings Related Pension (SERPs).


The Tories are committed to scrapping Labour's New Deal, which they believe is a costly and inefficient way to get people back into work.

Under their 'Britain Works' initiative, the Tories would give private contractors the job of finding work for the long-term unemployed.

The companies would profit from any savings in social security.

The Tories will also implement their 'Can Work, Must Work Guarantee', which is designed to ensure that those who are able to work do so, or lose unemployment benefit.

The party has also pledged extra help for disabled people and lone parents who want to return to the workforce.


The party says that it would create an office for civil society aimed at bringing voluntary organisations closer to the decision making process.

The Conservative manifesto also commits the party to reforming taxation for charities and protecting the savings of the disabled.

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