The Daily Mail headlines regarding tens of thousands of families where no one works having their benefits slashed via a pledge by David Cameron today.
The current £26,000 cap would be cut to £23,000 within days of the Tories winning the general election, the Prime Minister will say.
As the campaign enters its final 100 days with two polls showing his party has moved into a narrow lead, Mr Cameron is also promising tax relief for the middle classes.
He is determined to ensure welfare is no longer a ‘lifestyle choice’, while rewarding those who are in work. He will pledge that the Conservatives would reduce the limit on handouts to jobless families within weeks of being re-elected.
Housing benefit would be removed from jobless 18 to 21-year-olds, meaning they will have to live with their parents, like millions of youngsters starting out in a job. The new cuts would squeeze incomes of 100,000 jobless households and raise money to be ploughed into apprenticeships for three million school leavers. The coalition has already introduced a welfare cap of £26,000 per household in what polls suggest is one of its most popular policies. However, further welfare cuts have been hampered by Liberal Democrat opposition.
Reducing the cap to 23,000 – equivalent to a pre-tax salary of around £29,300 – would hit and additional 70,000 workless households and save taxpayers an extra £135 million per year, while the housing benefit squeeze on younger jobseekers would apply to 30,000 claimants and save a further £120million.
Only claimants of Disability Living Allowance will be exempt from the new cap.
In a swipe at Labour and the Liberal Democrats, Mr Cameron yesterday attacked the ‘lie’ that Britain would be better off paying more tax to continue funding higher benefits.
He said there was an ‘economic, moral and practical’ case for lower taxes, insisting British people ‘deserve reward’ following years of austerity.
He admitted too many people have been sucked into the 40p income tax band, including teachers and police officers. The Tories are pledging to increase the threshold for the 40p rate to £50,000 by 2020.
Mr Cameron will say today: “Conservatives believe we should be giving the people the chance of a better future – while encouraging people on benefits back into work.
‘For years we have had a welfare system that kept people subsidized in poverty and forgot about them. Hard working taxpayers were left to pick up the tab – and often they had lower incomes than those supported on welfare. This is about ending that injustice.
‘We are saying loud and clear that welfare is a safety net for those in hard times, not a lifestyle choice.
‘We want to put peoples hard-earned taxes into lifting people up, not holding them down- and that’s what these three million apprenticeships will do. This is about being ambitious for Britain. We can give many more young people the chance to get on.
‘We can help more people into work and out of poverty. We can secure a better future for everyone in Britain – but only if we stick to our long-term plan.’
Ministers say the £26,000 benefit cap has already helped push more than 12,000 households into work.
In total, 51,000 households have had their benefits capped since April 2013.
Two polls last night showed the Conservatives ahead of Labour for the first time since September 2011. ComRes put the Tories on 31 per cent (up two points since last month) Labour on 30 (-2), Ukip 17 (+1), Lib Dems 8 (-4) and the Greens (+2).
A Survation poll for the Daily Mirror put the Tories on 31 and Labour 30. Ukip were third on 23 – far higher than in most recent surveys. Lord Ashcroft’s weekly poll put the two main parties neck and neck on 32, Ukip on 15, the Greens 9 and the LibDems 7.
“3 million apprenticeships! – we’ll have to wait and see.
‘With George Osborne, the Chancellor, not being drawn, when questioned, on the details of the immense cuts to welfare expenditure he is to make, goodness knows what we can expect!”