Conservatives believe in tax cuts for all, and decent benefits for those who cannot work for their living.
One of the worst lies put round by critics is that Conservatives want to do down the workers. On the contrary. Most of us came into politics to help more people succeed, to get on in the world, to enjoy a higher standard of living. Far from wanting Labour’s mantra of “tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor”, Conservatives want jobs for the unemployed, and better paid jobs for the employed. We want lower taxes for the many. We want to raise more tax revenue from the rich by setting rates that makes them stay and pay.
I am glad the Conservative leadership has in public accepted that living standards fell too far under Labour from 2007 and have continued to fall at a slower pace since 2010. They have agreed that reversing the fall in living standards is an important next task, now that good progress has been made with creating many more private sector jobs, and with reversing the big fall in output in 2008-9.
So how can it be achieved? For those who have moved from benefits to work there is a rise in living standards as a result. We need to help more make that journey. That requires Income tax cuts, benefit reform, help with training and skills, and more progress with general economic recovery.
Many have benefitted from the large increase in the tax threshold, introduced by a Conservative Chancellor with the vocal support of the Lib Dems. More could be done by way of cutting Income Tax, to leave people with more of their own money to spend.
Price rises have been too fast over the last five years. In particular energy prices have risen, partly owing to fuel duties and to the cost of renewables. Those elements of fuel cost which are government imposed need to be reduced further. This government has cancelled Labour’s planned rises in Fuel Duty. It needs to overcome Lib Dem objections to shifting energy policy towards more cheaper energy generally.
The costs of doing business have been driven up by government fees, charges and regulation. Another attack upon the way government interferes and complicates too many things would be welcome. Mr Pickles is leading his own crusade to try to cut some of the costs government,especially local government, imposes on motorists.
Over the next few months expect to see a number of measures to make improvements to the cost of living. Expect also to hear more of tax reductions as the next phase to make it more worthwhile to work. Getting living standards up is an agreed aim of all political parties.