Tory manifesto summary

Like Labour, the Conservatives had plenty of time to plan their election manifesto, published on Tuesday 13 April. As a result there were few additional surprises. The main plan of the Tory platform is to end Labour’s “tax on jobs” NI rate increase next year. The manifesto promises to “act immediately to cut government waste so we can stop the most damaging part of the National Insurance rise for employers and for anyone earning under £35,000.” In addition, from April 2011, a Conservative government would raise the primary threshold for National Insurance by £24 a week and raise the Upper Earnings Limit by £29 a week; and raise the secondary threshold at which employers start paying National Insurance by £21 a week.

The pledge to cut a net £6bn of wasteful departmental spending in 2010/11 will be achieved partly through the following savings:

  • Freeze public sector-pay in 2011, (excluding the 1m lowest paid)
  • Hold a review to bring forward the date when the state pension age starts to rise to 66
  • Stop tax credits to families with incomes over £50,000
  • Cut government contributions to Child Trust Funds for all but the poorest third of families and families with disabled children;
  • Cap public sector pensions above £50,000
  • Cut Ministers’ pay by 5%, followed by a five year freeze
  • Reduce the number of MPs by 10%
  • Cut Whitehall policy, funding and regulation costs by a third, saving £2bn a year, and save a further £1 billion a year from quango bureaucracy.

Tax policies

  • Make small business rate relief automatic
  • Improve R&D tax credits to focus on hi-tech companies, small businesses and new start-ups.
  • Raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m, paid for by a simple flat-rate levy on all non-domiciled individuals.
  • When resources allow, starting to reverse the effects of the abolition of the dividend tax credit for pension funds.
  • Make the UK a more attractive location for multinationals by simplifying the complex Controlled Foreign Companies rules.
  • Consult on moving towards a territorial corporate tax system that only taxes profits generated in the UK.
  • Create an attractive tax environment for intellectual property.
  • Scrap Labour’s 50p phone tax and let broadband suppliers develop their own next generation infrastructure
  • Increase the proportion of tax revenues accounted for by environmental taxes, ensuring that any additional revenues from new green taxes that are principally designed as an environmental  measure to change behaviour are used to reduce the burden of taxation elsewhere.
  • Freeze council tax for two years, in partnership with local councils. This will be paid for by reducing spending on government consultants and advertising.
  • Scrap Labour plans for a council tax revaluation.
  • Abolish Labour’s new ‘cider tax’
  • Raise the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first-time buyers
  • Put a floor under the standard rate of landfill tax until 2020 to encourage alternative forms of waste disposal.

Business policies

  • Most interesting feature is a plan to replace Regional Development Agencies - the bodies that oversee the work of the Business Link network - with Local Enterprise Partnerships where government would match funds put up by Councils and chambers of commerce. Previously, shadow business spokesman Mark Prisk has criticised Business Links for failing to deliver.
  • Encourage joint university-business research and development institutes
  • Set up a multi-year Science and Research Budget to provide a stable investment climate for Research Councils;
  • Put more focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects in schools.
  • Improve R&D tax credits to on hi-tech companies, small businesses and new start-ups.
  • Set up Work for Yourself programme to give unemployed people direct access to business mentors and substantial loans.
  • Reduce the number of forms needed to register a new business to create a ‘one-click’ registration model.
  • End the restrictions on social tenants starting a business from their homes.
  • Business training: use funding that currently supports Labour’s ineffective employment and training schemes, such as Train2Gain, to help people improve their skills. This will allow us to:
  • Create 400,000 work pairing, apprenticeship, college and training places over two years;
  • Give SMEs a £2,000 bonus for every apprentice they hire.
  • Establish a Community Learning Fund to help people restart their careers and create a new all-age careers service.
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