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Conservatives pledge to 'reward hard work' and protect business

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The Conservative party has pledged in its manifesto to improve the lives of British workers while protecting business.

Pledges included exempting workers who earn less than £12,500 and those working 30 hours on the minimum wage from Income Tax, raising the 40p tax threshold to exempt those earning less than £50,000, and tightening rules on industrial action. This would include tougher turnout thresholds, particularly for public services, and repealing bans on hiring strike cover. 

The manifesto also pledged:

  • to raise the minimum wage to more than £8 an hour “by the end of the decade”
  • 30 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds, "worth £5,000 a year"
  • introduction of the new state pension (legislated for in the previous parliament)
  • to reduce pension contribution tax relief for those earning in excess of £150,000
  • three million more apprenticeships over the next five years
  • replacing the Jobseeker’s Allowance for 18- to 21-year-olds with a Youth Allowance that will be time-limited to six months, after which jobseekers will have to accept an apprenticeship, traineeship or do daily community work to receive benefits
  • to halve the disability employment gap
  • abolition of the jobs tax – employers' National Insurance contributions – for apprentices under 25
  • a business rate review by the end of the year
  • to cut £10 billion-worth of red tape 
  • extra support for high-street shops by increasing the business rates retail discount to £1,500

“Our goal is a country that not only rewards those who work hard and do the right thing, but gives everyone – no matter their background – the chance to fulfil their potential,” the manifesto stated. 

It said: “We will cut a further £10 billion of red tape over the next parliament through our Red Tape Challenge and our One-In Two-Out rule. This will support our aim to make Britain the best place in Europe, and one of the top five worldwide, to do business by 2020.” 

Among those responding to the manifesto was the Centre for Policy Studies. It stated: “Today’s Conservative party manifesto contains a number of extremely welcome policies such as an extension of the Right to Buy and further income tax cuts. However, other policies are incoherent and do little to resolve the underlying economic problems.”

On the specific issue of Income Tax exemptions, it said: “No-one working 30 hours a week on the minimum wage should ever have to pay Income Tax. However, this should not prevent future governments from carrying out more ambitious cuts to Income Tax and National Insurance.”

Regarding pension changes, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown Tom McPhail said: “While the guarantees around pensioner benefits will be welcome, any changes to tax relief rates, particularly when announced simply to pay for another policy elsewhere, are likely to undermine investors’ confidence in the stability of our pension system.”

He added: "The Conservatives are not alone in their plans to change the tax relief rules, it is something Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have all talked about. Our concern is that any changes of this nature should be part of a considered savings policy.”