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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing Operative

£6 - £15 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a well e...

Recruitment Genius: Data Scientist

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen