Tories promise tax cut for parents to 'boost families' financial security'

The Conservatives are promising a tax cut for parents by raising the threshold for when families have to pay a levy on their child benefit.

The current system means if either parents or a parent's partner earns more than £60,000, they begin paying the high income child benefit tax charge, and lose the benefit altogether when a salary hits £80,000.

But if the Tories win the election on 4 July, they have promised to increase the threshold to £120,000 before any tax is paid, and to £160,000 before the benefit is withdrawn, as well as base it on a household income, rather than an individual.

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt claimed the policy would lead to an average tax cut of £1,500 for around 700,000 families, and in turn "boost families' financial security and give them more money to spend on the things that matter most".

But Labour called it "another chaotic scattergun announcement from Rishi Sunak, adding to his list of desperate and unfunded policies that he knows can't be delivered".

This latest move by the government follows its decision in April to raise the threshold for when the high income child benefit tax charge kicks in from £50,000 to £60,000.

The party said the new £120,000 policy would cost £1.3bn by 2029 and be paid for by "clamping down on tax avoidance" - a measure it has promised to use throughout the campaign that it estimates will raise £6bn.

The Tories said the change would "end the unfairness that means single-earner households can start paying the tax charge when a household with two working parents and a much higher total income can keep the child benefit in full".

But it would not come into force until autumn 2025 due to the "significant reform" to HMRC procedures that would need to take place first.

Mr Hunt said: "Raising the next generation is the most important job any of us can do so it's right that, as part of our clear plan to bring taxes down, we are reducing the burden on working families."

But a Labour spokesperson said: "Rishi Sunak clearly wants to pretend the last 14 years didn't happen, because almost all his policies reverse decisions his own party has taken.

"The choice at this election is five more years of Conservative chaos or stability with a changed Labour Party."

The SNP's David Linden attacked the plan, saying: "The Tories' time is up - and no amount of desperate, last-minute policy announcements will stop the democratic drubbing that is coming their way.

"The Scottish people can see right through the Tories' empty election promises because they know the only thing that Westminster has delivered is austerity cuts, Brexit and a cost-of-living crisis.

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And the Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney, also said her rivals' policies weren't "worth the paper they are written on, after years of hiking taxes on hardworking families".

She added: "Conservative ministers have had years to help parents with the cost of living but have done absolutely nothing apart from hiking taxes. It begs the question, what have they been doing all this time?"

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Her party will also be focusing on parents with their election announcement, promising to double statutory maternity pay to £350 a month, and introduce a "dad month" of paid leave for new dads.

They will also make paid parental rights available from day one of a job and extend them to self-employed parents.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said the proposals would "give new parents the choice and flexibility they need, backed up by a package of proper support".

Meanwhile, Labour will talk about their housing strategy - including making the mortgage guarantee scheme permanent and promising to build 1.5 million homes over the next parliament.