Pressure on Blair over pounds 100,000 benefit cut-off

Tony Blair is coming under growing pressure to spell out his tax and spending plans as he refused to say whether or not those on pounds 100,000 a year would lose from Labour's child benefit changes. In a separate development he could face a pounds 1bn bill to buy-off a conference revolt on pensions.

It emerged yesterday that the Labour leader and Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, had discussed a figure of pounds 100,000 a year as the income above which people with children aged between 16 and 18 would lose child benefit. But they rejected the idea of naming a figure because it would invite questions about their plans for income tax.

Mr Brown said last week that Labour would make the "relevant financial decisions" on taxes, benefits and public spending "after the Conservative Budget [in November] and in our manifesto".

But, as Labour delegates prepare to gather in Blackpool this weekend, Mr Brown now faces a bill for up to pounds 1bn a year as the price of heading off a rebellion on pensions.

Baroness Castle has proposed restoring Labour's historic policy, abandoned since the last election, of linking the value of the state pension to average earnings. But Harriet Harman, Labour's social security spokeswoman, is today writing to union leaders to plead with them not to back the plan. Ms Harman warns the unions, which still hold 50 per cent of conference votes, that Lady Castle's plan would be paid for out of the pounds 3.5bn state subsidy to company pension funds, which could cost union members pounds 550 a year.

Ms Harman told GMTV: "I am confident that the Labour Party conference will agree that the first priority of a Labour government and a Labour social security secretary of state must be the poorest pensioners."

She stressed Labour's objective of all pensioners getting the social security benefits to which they are already entitled. But that could need up to pounds 1.26bn a year more in income support, housing benefit and help with council tax, according to the Department of Social Security .

"It's not a spending commitment. It's what they are already entitled to," a spokeswoman for Ms Harman said.

But the money would have to be found from somewhere, which could disrupt Labour's tax plans, now close to being finalised. It is clear that Labour would not seek to reverse any tax cuts made in November by Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor, and that National Insurance will not be imposed on earnings above pounds 33,660 a year. The current starting point of the 40p-in-the-pound top rate of income tax, about pounds 30,000 a year, is likely to stay.

What is not yet finally decided is whether a new 50p tax rate will be imposed on incomes over about pounds 100,000 a year and whether a new starting rate of 15p on the first slice of taxed earnings will be proposed, or simply offered as an aspiration.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Circles South East Youth Service: Youth Services Volunteer

this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £30,000+

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading privately owned sp...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is require...

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Supervisor

£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn