More voters trust Labour than Tories on economy

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Labour received a post-Budget boost yesterday as a poll suggested that voters trust Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling over David Cameron and George Osborne to steer Britain through the economic downturn.

The survey's findings emerged as the Prime Minister prepared to present five key election pledges for the ballot expected on 6 May. He will set out Labour's campaign themes with a message to activists that Britain faces its "biggest choice for a generation".

The ComRes poll for the BBC suggests Labour has re-established its lead for economic competence over the Tories. Its findings will alarm the Tory leadership, which has seen its poll lead over Labour shrink since the new year. One third of respondents said they most trusted Mr Brown and his Chancellor to handle the economy, compared with 27 per cent who opted for Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne and 19 per cent for the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg and Vince Cable.

Labour's plan to publish five promises for a fourth term in office was disclosed by The Independent two months ago. They are expected to cover jobs, health, personal care, antisocial behaviour and tackling the recession.

In a Downing Street podcast, Mr Brown pledged tough action to reduce immigration, saying that a ban on unskilled workers from outside the EU would remain for the "foreseeable future", while the need for skilled workers could be "substantially reduced". The Prime Minister said he wanted a campaign to train more British chefs and care assistants.

The Tories accused ministers of punishing unmarried pensioners on moderate incomes by £110 a year by freezing income tax allowances and raising pensions by less than inflation. Mr Cameron vowed to keep the winter fuel allowance, pension credits and free bus travel and TV licences, and to restore the link between pensions and earnings.

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