Wednesday News Review

Tory tax bombshell

Working families face losing up to £1,560 a year from Wednesday under the coalition’s new tax and benefit regime, the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, has claimed, triggering a row with the Treasury, which said that only the richest 20% will lose out. A raft of tax and benefit measures kick in on Wednesday, the first day of the new tax year. Tax threshold increases, child benefit and working tax credits are frozen and the rate of childcare element of the working tax credit is reduced from 80% to 70% of the total costs. Balls said the reforms amounted to a “black Wednesday” for families but the Treasury insisted the increase in the personal tax allowance in particular meant only the richest would be significantly worse off. – the Guardian

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said that what he called “Black Wednesday” would hit women with children hardest of all. According to the Treasury figures, a dual-earner couple with one child and a combined income of £25,000 will be £12 a week better off, a dual-earner couple with two children on £60,000 will gain £5 a week, and a lone parent with one child on £12,500 will gain £10 a week. In contrast, a single-earner couple with no children on £170,000 will lose out to the tune of £35 a week. However Labour published figures compiled by the independent House of Commons Library which, it said, showed that a couple with three children, with each parent earning £26,000, would lose more than £1,700 a year if the VAT rise is taken into account. Mr Balls said: “Today will be a Black Wednesday for millions of families across Britain. David Cameron promised to lead the most family-friendly government ever and George Osborne said we’re all in this together,” he said. “So why are their changes to tax and benefits coming into force today hitting women harder than men and taking so much support from children, with families on low and middle incomes being hit the hardest of all?” – Press Association

Back to basics for NHS reforms

The Deputy Prime Minister would only say that he agreed with the “basic ideas” of the unpopular Health and Social Care Bill and added that the Government must now “get the details right”. He also said that some fears over the legislation would be dispelled “when we’re able to explain what’s going on”, in a further sign that senior Cabinet ministers now admit the public has little understanding of the biggest planned changes in the 63-year history of the NHS, which will see power to buy treatment handed from managers to family doctors and private companies allowed to provide most services. Mr Clegg’s forthright comments, made both in the House of Commons and to the BBC, add to the sense that the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, is being sidelined having tried to plough ahead with the Bill in the face of overwhelming opposition from the medical profession, which fears it will prove hugely disruptive at a time when the NHS is trying to save £20billion and may also lead to privatisation by the back door. – Daily Telegraph

The Liberal Democrats will demand five major changes to the Government’s flagship health reforms as the price of securing their passage through Parliament. Nick Clegg’s party is threatening to join forces with Labour to dilute the NHS and Social Care Bill unless Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, agrees to make the changes sought by the Liberal Democrats’ spring conference last month. David Cameron and Mr Clegg will press Mr Lansley to implement at least some of the Liberal Democrat ideas. But the Health Secretary is digging in against major surgery. “He sees is it as a problem of communication,” one Cabinet source said yesterday. “That is not how others see it.”the Independent

Calamity Clegg curse strikes again

Nick Clegg was last night branded a hypocrite after attacking internships for the rich, then admitting his dad got him one with a friend’s bank. The Deputy PM said the top jobs market was rigged in favour of the privileged as he unveiled a bid to boost social mobility. But it was revealed he got unpaid work at a Finnish bank through his father Nicholas, and the Lib Dems routinely use interns. Labour’s John Mann said: “It is hypocrisy to attack interns when he enjoyed the advantages of family connections himself.” – Daily Mirror

However, it has emerged Mr Clegg secured the first of three internships after his father, Nicholas, chairman of United Trust Bank, “had a word” with a friend, who worked at a Finnish bank. The Deputy Prime Minister worked there after he left the £10,000-a-term Westminster School and before he started at Cambridge University. His spokesman said: “He had help through family connections. Someone in his family knew someone in the bank.” He con-firmed it was Mr Clegg’s father. In the Commons, former Labour minister Hazel Blears asked Mr Clegg if he had ever employed unpaid interns. The DPM replied: “As leader of the Liberal Democrats I can confirm from today we are making sure advertisements for internships are done in a manner which are name and school blind, so there’s a complete level playing field, and that proper remuneration is provided.” – Daily Herald

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply