Tories pledge to deal with eight areas of tax

Eight stealth taxes that a Conservative government would seek to outlaw or change have been identified by the Shadow Chancellor, Oliver Letwin, in his pledge to the British public.

Although Mr Letwin has promised to address three Labour levies such as "death duties," council tax and stamp duty, he said there would be no detailed targets because of too many broken promises in the past.

The remaining areas of tax he did cover, include the controversial capital gains tax, small business levies and current taxes on savings and pensions.

Mr Letwin said these represented policies under Labour that were "manifestly unfair," and showed "no social justice" or "value for money."

"When you are sitting in a traffic jam and you're thinking about all those taxes you are paying, is that value for money?" asked Mr Letwin.

"Can we do something about this; can we take action to change things, to make a difference? You bet we can!"

He added that by using his "tight spending plans" the Conservatives would slim down Labour bureaucracy, by getting the money from the taxpayer to the front-line to improve public services.

The alternative, according to the Conservatives, means council tax on the average home will rise to £2,000 a year, and £900 more on national insurance will be demanded from the average earner.

Further general pledges, include the delivery of a "simpler and fairer tax system" and "relief" for first time house buyers looking to gain a toehold in the property market.

Such assurances suggest vigilance from the Conservatives on recent polls, which show tax and housing relief are high up the list of voter concerns.

In opting for "measurable accountable actions," Mr Letwin hopes to convince voters of the "moral case" for a Conservative Britain.

Observers immediately reflected on the brevity of the speech and remarked on its light use of economic facts, figures or economic trends.

Vince Cable, Lib Dem spokesman, said the speech offered "vague aspirations" in comparison to his own party's "hard policies" on simplifying the tax system.


5th October 2004

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