1 Oct 2011

Top Tory attacks Osborne economy plan

Coalition plans for the economy are criticised by a senior Conservative backbencher on the eve of the party’s conference in Manchester.

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, said the government does not have a “coherent and credible” plan for growth – echoing Labour leader Ed Miliband‘s attack during Labour’s conference.

“There is much to do, and it is not just a question of gaps in policy,” Mr Tyrie told The Times.

“A coherent and credible plan for the long-term economic growth rate of the UK economy is needed.

“The Big Society; localism; the green strategy – whether right or wrong; these and other initiatives have seemed at best irrelevant to the task in hand, if not downright contradictory to it; likewise the huge spending hike on overseas aid and the cost of the Libyan expedition.”

Speaking before the release of a report he has written for the Centre for Policy Studies, Mr Tyrie said current policy did not “adequately recognise” the fact that “the age of abundance has been replaced by the age of austerity”.

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He strongly supported the government’s line on tackling the immediate crisis, it was reported.

But he said the government had “a long way to go” to arrive at a coherent strategy for securing better economic performance in the long term.

The issue is likely to dominate at the Conservative Party conference which begins on Sunday – economic policy is being debated on Monday.

On a visit to Warwick, David Cameron promised to set out “the most ambitious growth plan that we could possibly have” and said voters would be hearing “much more” in the days ahead.

The government had an “active growth strategy” and was cutting corporation tax, deregulating and making it easier to employ people.

His chancellor, Goregoe Osborne, said the possibility of tax cuts depended on “how things develop” between now and the next general election.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said tax cuts “should be for life not just for Christmas”.

Employment law

In separate plans, workers with less than two years’ service will be prevented from taking their employers to a tribunal for unfair dismissal under government plans to boost the economy.

The proposals, to be unveiled by George Osborne in Manchester, will see the qualification period increased from one year to two from next April.

It is likely to open a new faultline between the coalition and trade unions.

Some 236,000 employment tribunal claims were made last year, with an average award of 8,900 pounds for successful claimants, and the average cost of defending a claim at 4,000 pounds, according to Treasury officials.

The GMB union said: “The Tory Party is increasingly being funded by the asset strippers and predators. That explains why the Tories want to reduce the employment rights of ordinary workers not to be sacked from their livelihoods unfairly.

“They are the same old nasty Tories now in the pockets of the predatory elite.”

But CBI chief John Cridland said: “Extending the qualifying period for unfair dismissal is a very positive step.

“We have been urging the Government to do everything it can to make it easier for firms to grow and create jobs, and this will give employers, especially smaller ones, more confidence to hire.”