03/10/2006

Conservatives focus on families

The Conservatives have focused on the family on the third day of the party's conference in Bournemouth, with leader David Cameron suggesting that a Tory government would consider easing the tax burden on couples with children.

Both Mr Cameron and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said that they were examining the idea of introducing a transferable tax allowance - so that one parent can pass on the benefit to the other when they stay at home with the children.

Mr Cameron also suggested that a Tory government would push for more flexible working hours for parents of children of all ages, rather than just the very young.

During an interview at the party conference, Mr Cameron said that he had consulted the Confederation of British Industry about plans to allow more people to ask their employers for flexible working hours.

He said: "I think it will help people have a better work-life balance, that's really important - that is the centre ground for me; it's an issue which people care about in their lives."

The transferable tax allowance is being considered as part of a review of the tax system, which is being considered by the Tax Reform Commission, which is due to report later this month.

Meanwhile, in his keynote conference speech, Mr Osborne stressed the need for the Conservatives to remain rooted on the middle ground of politics, rejecting the idea that family policy should not be a priority for the party.

He said: "I know there may be a few who think that childcare is something to be discussed in mothers' groups not on conference floors, or that equal pay for women should not get equal billing. Well, we in this hall think they're wrong. These issues go to the heart of what it means to be a civilised society. And we have Conservative answers. Childcare help that isn't dictated to parents but supports the choices parents make for themselves; extended flexible working in the fight for equal pay and a better family life."

(KMcA/EF)

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