Tories outline plans to restore savings culture

3 February 2010

The Conservative Party has confirmed plans to scrap rules that force people to take out an annuity before they turn 75, raise the inheritance tax and stamp duty thresholds and create a consumer protection agency.

In a document entitled A New Economic Model, shadow chancellor George Osborne puts forward eight benchmarks for Britain by which he wants a future Conservative government to be judged.

The document also outlines ways the party plans “restore our savings culture and encourage people to save more for retirement”.

Top of the list is scrapping compulsory annuitisation at age 75. The Tories have previously argued that forcing people to lock themselves into a long-term pension income could leave retirees “significantly worse off” when the financial climate is turbulent.

Another long-standing promise made by the Conservative Party is to raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million; Osborne’s document confirms this pledge and also promises that it will take nine out of 10 first-time buyers out of stamp duty by raising their threshold to £250,000.

These measures will be paid for by a simple flat-rate levy on all non-domiciled individuals in return for certainty over their future tax treatment.

Osborne also promises that, if elected to power in the forthcoming general election, his party would also restore the link between the state pension and average earnings, by bringing forward raising the state pension age for men to 66 within the next seven years.

A Conservative government, which would hold an “emergency Budget” within 50 days of taking office, would create a new Consumer Protection Agency, to promote responsible consumer finance. It would also look cap excessive store card interest rates and ensure consumers are given “much clearer information” on credit card bills and advertising.

Sticking to its green credentials, the party would create Britain’s first green investment bank, to back green technology start-ups. Households would also be entitled to up to £6,500 worth of energy-efficiency investments – paid for by energy providers rather than taxpayers.

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