Cameron promises tax cuts to halve job losses

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Indy Politics

David Cameron today promised tax changes to help firms avoid slashing their workforces.

Insisting that the Conservatives would not allow joblessness to soar, the Tory leader said proposals would be published tomorrow.

His comments came after a speech to a Conservative women's conference in which he rejected the idea that mass unemployment was inevitable in a recession.

Challenged about prospective Tory tax cuts, he responded that measures to help businesses were imminent.

"Tomorrow we will be making a very clear announcement about some tax changes that actually will help to encourage businesses to take on workers and to keep workers," he said.

While people would have to "wait and see" for the details, he added: "We will help, we will put money back in people's pockets and we will say where it will come from."

It is thought that the proposals could involve scrapping National Insurance payments for new workers to make it easier for employers to take staff on.

The plans, which will be set out in the morning, come as Gordon Brown is also hinting at tax cuts to help Britain out of recession.

The Government's measures are expected to feature in the forthcoming Pre-Budget Report.

With the latest figures showing numbers without work jumping by 164,000 to 1.79 million, Mr Cameron said redundancy fears were the biggest worry facing many households today.

Speaking to the Conservative Women's Organisation in Westminster, Mr Cameron rejected the argument that governments could do little to prevent unemployment in a recession.

"There's a certain approach to this which says that however painful this may be, large-scale unemployment is an unavoidable consequence of recession, that because it's the natural movement of the markets, all that Government can do is stand by and pick up the pieces," he said.

"I am not one of those people. In fact, I wholly disagree. Today I want to say the Conservative Party will not stand aside and allow unemployment to claim livelihoods and ruin lives on a massive scale.

"We will not walk on by while people lose their jobs."

Instead, he insisted, the Government had a "moral obligation" to help those whose jobs were threatened or lost through no fault of their own.

"You don't need a long memory in this country to remember the trauma of mass unemployment," Mr Cameron said.

"As a recession sets in, hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of losing their jobs, and as recessions go on, long-term unemployment soars.

"That is a tragedy for the people involved, and it's a tragedy for us, too, for all of society."

Mass unemployment was a "recipe for social disaster", which threatened to deepen the problems of Britain's "broken society", Mr Cameron added.

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said: "David Cameron says 'You don't need a long memory in this country to remember the trauma of mass unemployment.' He's right. And people haven't forgotten that it was under the last Conservative government that unemployment reached three million.

"It's obvious David Cameron doesn't understand what women and families care about. He wants women for one thing - their votes."