'Tory spending plans will end in £10bn shortfall'

The Tories have opened a £10bn black hole in their spending plans by pledging to lift the starting point for inheritance tax to £1m and to cut stamp duty for first-time homebuyers, according to Yvette Cooper, Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Ms Cooper also accused George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor, of making empty promises on cutting taxes, which she said could lead to cuts in spending on health, education or affordable housing.

"George Osborne has lost control of the Shadow Cabinet," she said. "Last week Andrew Lansley was promising increases in health spending. Now they are promising tax cuts. It just doesn't add up."

Philip Hammond, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said Ms Cooper's attack was an attempt to distract attention from next week's Budget.

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, is under growing pressure from Labour MPs to tackle fuel poverty with a windfall profits tax on the gas and electricity companies, which have raised prices by up to 15 per cent.

The Tories said their proposals for cutting corporation tax to 27p would be fully funded by scrapping existing reliefs and exemptions; and a marriage tax allowance would be funded by increases in other taxes, such as green taxes.

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