06/10/2009

Tories Would Freeze Public Wages

A Tory government would freeze public sector pay, the Shadow Chancellor told his party's Manchester conference today.

Outlining the Conservatives' spending plans, George Osborne said he would halt pay increases for judges, doctors, teachers and emergencies services staff in 2011.

However, the freeze would not stretch to military personnel earning less than £18,000.

Salaries at Whitehall would also be reviewed, with the Treasury having to rubber stamp any pay increases that could net a civil servant higher earnings than the Prime Minister.

Mr Osborne said the move would help combat national debt, suggesting "we're all in this together".

He also claimed the pay freezes would help shore-up public sector jobs.

Bankers' bonuses could be taxed if the Tories deemed them excessive, Mr Osborne said.

The Shadow Chancellor, who would control the UK Treasury should the Conservatives win the next general election, pledged to hold the 50p top tax rate for now.

He said the Tories would not balance the budget "on the backs of the poorest", however, Child Trust Funds would be closed to all but the poorest of UK families.

Tax credits would be taken off families earning more than £50,000 per annum, under a Conservative government.

Departmental budgets would be slashed by a third during the Tories' first term in Parliament, Mr Osborne said.

The most controversial plans brought forward by the opposition party was to increase the pensionable age.

Under Tory plans, the retirement age would be raised by one year, bringing it to 66.

Discussing his proposals to party delegates, Mr Osborne said: "These are the honest choices in the world in which we live and we have made them today.

"Anyone who tells you these choices can be avoided in not telling you the truth. We are all in this together."

Senior Labour figures have however accused the Shadow Chancellor of 'losing his nerve' over today's announcement.

Treasury Chief Secretary Liam Byrne said: "George Osborne appears intent on talking Britain down.

"We were told his speech would tell us 'everything' we needed to know about how the Tories would get the deficit down. But he lost his nerve.

"How can George Osborne say 'we're in this together' and then recommit his party to a tax giveaway to the wealthiest 3,000 estates?"

(PR/BMcC)

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