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UK Politics

Cameron pledges to freeze council tax

Conservative leader David Cameron today pledged to help working families get through the economic downturn and said he would help by freezing council tax for two years.

David Cameron was in York - where he will spend Christmas with his family - talking to young parents Chris and Sarah Charlton.

Mr Cameron was invited to have breakfast with the couple, who were selected by GMTV to question him.

In November the Charltons were invited to Downing Street to question Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but this time it was the Tory leader who was facing the questions.

Mr Charlton said the main challenge over the year was paying the mortgage, which he said had come down recently with the interest rate cuts. However, he said the gas and electricity bills were still high, along with food prices.

Mr Charlton said the Prime Minister had accused the Tory leader of doing nothing for young families during the tough economic times and he asked him what he would do.

Mr Cameron said: "That's not right, we would do lots of things to help because we recognise what a difficult time it is for families who are struggling with kids and all the bills.

"One of the first things we would do is freeze the council tax, because after your mortgage that is one of the big bills that you have to pay, and we have identified savings in the Government - the stuff they spend on advertising and consultants - and use that money to freeze your council tax for two years to try and help at this time.

"So to say we would do nothing is wrong," he told the family.

"We have got lots of plans to help business by letting them pay their VAT bills late. A big plan to get the lending out of the banks and into the businesses," he added.

Mr Cameron said he did not think the recent VAT cut was a good idea because the Government needed to keep debt down. He said families would face future tax rises because of the debt.

"It's a question of doing the right thing rather than the wrong thing," he said.

Mr Cameron said families across the country were concerned about paying their mortgages.

He said: "We have got to make sure the mortgage rate cuts that have come through get passed on. We have got to keep those interest rates down for the long term so you know your mortgage rate isn't going to go up.

"That's where I worry that the Government's massive borrowing is going to make it more difficult to keep the interest rates down."

Mrs Charlton said she would like to have another child but the economic circumstances mean it is difficult. She asked the Tory leader what he would do to help young families.

Mr Cameron told the couple that the key was flexible working hours.

He said: "I think that we would make sure that all families with young children have the right to ask for flexible working and I think we'd get more flexible working. Companies will recognise that they should keep you on the existing sort of job and give you flexibility."

The Conservative leader told the couple that marriage in this country is important and should be recognised in the tax system.