views

TORIES TO WAGE WAR ON WORKSHY

CONSERVATIVE leader David Cameron yesterday promised to shake up Britain&rsquo;s complex welfare system and to slash the numbers of long-term unemployed. <br /><br />Speaking on the eve of the four-day Tory party conference in Manchester, Cameron promised to use tax reform and deregulation to help employers take on new staff.<br /><br />He said private training firms would be paid to prepare the unemployed for work and that the party would introduce tough medical checks to find out whether any of the 2.6m people claiming incapacity benefit should be working.<br /><br />There would be training courses for those out of work for more than six months and a reduction in benefits for those who refuse to take up a job offer. The Conservatives would also cut the number of working-age benefits from 51 to just two.<br /><br />&ldquo;Labour are now the party of unemployment. I want the new Conservative party to be the party of jobs and opportunity and at the heart of it is a big, bold and radical scheme to get millions of people back to work,&rdquo; said Cameron. &ldquo;The jobs crisis is one of the most serious things we face as a country,&rdquo; he added. <br /><br />Cameron said up front costs for the project would total &pound;600m and that the Tories would make &ldquo;tough&rdquo; choices to meet that cost.<br /><br />But the conference was last night set to be overshadowed by a row over Europe after the Irish endorsed the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum onSaturday. <br /><br />Mayor Boris Johnson called for a referendum here in the UK, even if the Treaty were to be ratified across Europe and come into force before the election.<br /><br />But Cameron refused to endorse the call and deliberately glossed over the issue in a TVinterview yesterday. Cameron was also asked how wealthy he was and was forced to deny that he owned a fortune worth &pound;30m.<br /><br />Other key policies from the Tories this week will include reining in public spending from next year if elected and introducing a &ldquo;home protection scheme&rdquo; to prevent the elderly from having to sell their property to fund long-term care.<br /><br />The care home insurance would see 65-year-olds offered the chance to pay a one-off &pound;8,000 to waive care fees for life. Cameron said he will honour the 50p tax rate for the highest earners, but added that if it drove Britain&rsquo;s wealthiest abroad it would be better to ditch the tax quickly.<br /><br />The Tories are also set to pledge 200,000 extra apprenticeships and 10,000 extra university places next year. And they have promised a task force, to be led by Sir James Dyson, to turn the UK into Europe&rsquo;s leading exporter of hi-tech products.<br />