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Labour manifesto 'to end life on benefits'

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 11 April 2010

Labour is to fight the election on a manifesto pledging to offer jobs but cut long-term benefits to anyone who has been unemployed for more than two years.

Gordon Brown (Reuters)

Ahead of Labour's manifesto launch tomorrow the party said its proposals would be "ambitious but affordable" as the prime minister stakes Labour's claim to a fourth consecutive term principally on securing the economic ans social recovery.

Under Labour plans public jobs would be offered to anyone over 25 who has been unemployed for two years or more and everyone under 25 unemployed for 10 months or more. If the job is turned down they will lose benefits such as jobseeker's allowance.

Labour also said today they would pledge better value for public money while making no big spending commitments in a bid to reduce a record budget deficit.

One of its major themes will be support for first-time homebuyers, including a new initiative to help low income families get on the housing ladder.

National insurance row
But there will be no big spending announcements to vie with the Conservatives' recent proposals on national insurance (NI) and marriage tax breaks, which have so far dominated the election debate.

Tommrow the Conservatives will release the names of 23 more top business people in Britain backing Tory plans to cancel Labour's proposed NI increase. The news, which could derail Labour's manifesto announcement, means over 100 business leaders have now signed up to the Conservative pledge.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband, who wrote Labour's manifesto, said today the document would focus on the economic and social problems while vying to restore voter trust in politics following the expenses scandal. As well as rebuilding the economy and investing in "future growth and jobs", it will talk about strengthening communities and keeping up improvements to public services.

Miliband said the manifesto would have more in common with the 1997 election agenda, which was cautious on spending, rather than those proposed in 2001 and 2005.

"Everything will be very tightly costed and there won't be big spending commitments," he told Sky News.

"There is less money around. There will have to be reductions, cuts in lower priority programmes."
Britain is emerging from the worst recession since the second world war and its budget deficit is forecast to exceed 11 per cent of GDP in the 2010/11 fiscal year.

Conservative pledge
The Conservatives say Labour's plans will undermine economic growth, raise unemployment and fail to cut waste in the public sector.

The party's leader, David Cameron, is set to guarantee access to a local GP as part of the Tories' election manifesto due to be published on Tuesday.

The document is expected to promise that everyone will be able to see a doctor in their area 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Tory leader sought to reinforce his centrist credentials in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph today, in which he pledged to govern on behalf of "everyone in Britain" if elected.

He said he would avoid the more "divisive" policies associated with the Thatcher governments of the 1980s, instead urging the country to "join together, act decisively and move forward with optimism".

Lib Dem warning
The Liberal Democrats, who would hold the balance of power in a hung parliament and will publish their manifesto on Wednesday, today warned of "serious social strife" if the Conservatives win the election with minimal support and then try to raise taxes and cut services.

Britain could be hit by a wave of "Greek style" unrest if a Tory government narrowly wins the election and tries to push through draconian spending cuts, Nick Clegg said today.

Although he stressed he was "not campaigning for a hung parliament", he told the Observer it could be preferable to a government hampered by a lack of legitimacy.

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