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ONE BIG CON JOB; Benefit freezes..fuel duty sops.. old pals' acts.. policy thefts and growth forecast failures all add up to MORE AT DAILYRECORD.CO.UK TORY BUDGET 2015 MEN WHO PUT THE CON INTO CONSERVATIVE DAILY RECORD Thursday, July 9, 2015 MEN WHO PUT THE CON INTO CONSERVATIVE DAILY RECORD Thursday, July 9, 2015 MORE AT DAILYRECORD.CO.UK.

Byline: TORCUIL CRICHTON t.crichton@dailyrecord.co.uk

GEORGE Osborne posed as a friend of working families yesterday - while he picked their pockets.

The Tory Chancellor ruthlessly targeted the working poor in his July Budget by slashing their tax credits.

Osborne's four-year freeze in all working-age benefits, and his drastic PS6000 cut to the Con-Dems' overall benefit cap, will hammer the children of families struggling to pay the bills.

And he put the boot into the young by snatching their housing benefit and student grants.

Then, after listing all his plans to cut PS12billion from welfare and make the poor pay, Osborne went into spin overdrive by claiming the Tories will introduce a PS9-an-hour "national living wage".

Welfare axeman Iain Duncan Smith punched the air maniacally and yelled "Fantastic!" as the Chancellor made his surprise bid to shape the headlines at the end of his speech.

Osborne's boss David Cameron loved it too. But campaigners quickly pointed out that the so-called living wage, which isn't due to reach PS9 for five years, is nothing of the sort.

And when seen as a whole, the Budget was classic Osborne, full of pain for the poorest, political trickery and generosity to the rich.

SNP economy spokesman Stewart Hosie said the Tories' plans would hit "the poorest and most vulnerable" and do nothing to improve productivity or encourage innovation.

He added: "He has continued with his harsh austerity agenda - particularly the savage cuts in tax credits."

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said Osborne was "making working people worse off" with a political Budget designed to enhance his Tory leadership prospects.

And Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said: "This is not a Budget for the working poor, the young or the sick.

"No amount of Tory spin can hide the fact that this is a bad Budget for working families, our most vulnerable and our young people."

Osborne's pledge to continue the fuel duty freeze was a rare crumb of comfort for ordinary families.

But as anti-austerity campaigners demonstrated outside Parliament, he had plenty of good news for the well-off.

In a move that will only benefit the rich, Osborne kept his promise to scrap inheritance tax on homes worth PS1million.

Ordinary income tax payers saw their personal allowance raised by PS200 to PS11,000, while the allowance for the 40 per cent higher rate will rise by PS615 to PS43,000.

And Osborne's big business buddies celebrated yet more cuts in the tax they pay on their profits.

Corporation tax will be reduced to 19 per cent by 2017 and 18 per cent by 2020. That compares with rates of nearly 30 per cent in Germany, 33.33 per cent in France and 40 per cent in America.

Osborne stole Ed Miliband's clothes by abolishing the permanent "non-dom" tax status that allows millionaires living in Britain to avoid paying tax here on their earnings overseas.

And he shamelessly nicked another Labour policy by vowing to impose an eight per cent surcharge on bank profits.

The Chancellor had to admit, despite all his boasting about Britain's recovery, that the economy will grow by only 2.4 per cent this year, not the 2.5 per cent he claimed in March.

As Osborne planned, though, his purported new "living wage" trumped everything else in his hour-long speech and dominated the rolling news agenda in the hours that followed.

"Britain deserves a pay rise and Britain is getting a pay rise," he told the Commons.

But the Living Wage Foundation pointed out that a real living wage is pegged to the cost of living.

Osborne's is not. And next year, the minimum wage will rise to only PS7.20 an hour, while the current living wage outside London is PS7.85.

Anti-poverty campaigners the Resolution Foundation worked out that even with the "living wage", Osborne's benefit cuts will mean pain for millions.

They found that a single parent of one child, working 20 hours a week at PS9.35 an hour, will be PS1000 a year worse off, and a couple who both earn PS9.35 an hour will lose PS850 a year.

Rhys Moore of the Living Wage Foundation noted that only workers aged 25 and over will get the Osborne "living wage", while two million young workers will be excluded.

And he said Osborne's assault on tax credits will leave families needing a a far higher "living wage" to make ends meet.

Osborne launched a determined assault on Labour's tax credit system, which has helped millions of families since it was introduced by Gordon Brown.

Experts fear more than seven million children will lose out.

As well as freezing credits for four years and bringing in a raft of changes to exclude families or cut their payouts, Osborne announced that families who have a third child after 2017 won't get tax credit or universal credit for that child.

The Children's Society called it "a two-child policy for the poorest families".

The benefit cap, which limits the total amount of welfare any family can receive, will also be cut - from PS26,000 to PS20,000. The cap in London will be PS23,000.

Osborne served up a particularly large dose of misery to young people. All 18 to 21-year-olds, except unspecified "vulnerable" cases, will lose their housing benefit.

And the student grants given to children from poor families will be replaced with loans.

Youngsters on benefits will face yet another crackdown, with their payments stopped if they refuse compulsory unpaid work placements. But some analysts said young people would get a boost in the job market - because Osborne's decision to exclude them from his "living wage" will make them cheaper than older candidates.

Osborne also once again attacked public servants - and risked provoking a wave of strikes - by limiting their pay rises to one per cent for another four years.

Each year he really does grow a bit more into this character The man with no shame A sad selection of Osborne's most cringe-inducing Budget speech quotes THE audacity of Osborne will leave you gobsmacked. Let's start with his opening statement, later shown to be disingenous at best: "This is a Budget that puts security first - a Budget for working people."

His next line wasn't any better: "This is the new settlement from a one-nation Government."

Osborne channelled Thatcher at her dogmatic worst: "Having come this far, there can be no turning back."

Then came the moment we had all been dreading: "We are all in this together."

Yes, he really said it. Again. Try this one, then pick yourselves off the floor: "This is proof the NHS is only truly safe in Conservative hands."

His pride in helping the rich showed how out of touch the Tories truly are: "You can pass on PS1million to your children without inheritance tax."

But he saved his worst for last. He actually said: "It was the Conservatives who first protected working people in the mills, it was the Conservatives who took the great steps towards state education, it was the Conservatives who introduced equal votes for women, it was the Conservatives who gave working people the right to buy.

"So of course, it is now the Conservatives who are transforming welfare and introducing the national living wage."

The Tories... the party of the people. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

CAPTION(S):

SEPARATED AT BIRTH? Osborne's resemblance to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was particularly striking yesterday

TAKING A STAND But Osborne ignored demonstrators and piled on the pain

NO MORE Protesters at Parliament
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 9, 2015
Words:1263
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