DANNY Alexander has accused the Conservatives of being bent on “slashing support for families” as he went public with Tory proposals for an extra £8 billion of welfare cuts that were vetoed by the Liberal Democrats.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said he was lifting the lid on the internal coalition discussions because his former government colleagues were “trying to con the British people by keeping their planned cuts secret until after the election”.
The Tories have turned their backs on the plan delivered in coalition governmentDanny Alexander
Chancellor George Osborne says another £12 billion savings would be found by a Conservative government but has repeatedly declined to specify where more than a tiny fraction would come from.
Mr Alexander said the previously dropped plans - including limiting Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit to two children at a cost of £3,500 for a family of three - were a clear signal of where the axe would fall.
But the Conservatives dismissed the claim as “desperate stuff” from the Liberal Democrats and insisted the proposals were “definitely not our policy”.
A Tory spokesman said: “This set of policies was never proposed or supported by the Prime Minister and Chancellor and would never be proposed or supported by the PM and Chancellor.”
Mr Alexander’s revelations came as The Times reported growing dissent in Lib Dem ranks over the possibility of entering a second power-sharing deal with the Conservatives if the General Election fails to produce a clear winner.
Nick Clegg has based his campaign around the premise that his party would be a restraining influence on either of the main parties.
But the newspaper said a number of - mostly unnamed - parliamentarians were increasingly hostile to the prospect of a Tory tie-up, which would have to be approved by a special party conference.
According to Mr Alexander, the unimplemented Tory proposals included:
:: Removing higher rate Child Benefit from first child - an average cut of over £360 for every family with children;
:: Means-testing Child Benefit - cutting £1,750 for a two child middle income family;
:: Removing Child Benefit from 16-19-year-olds - a cut of over £1,000 for parents of a single child;
Mr Alexander said: “For five years I won battle after battle to stop the Tories veering off to the right with ideological cuts, and it’s been worth it to get the economy back on track while ensuring a fairer society.
“The coalition has delivered savings in a fair way, but the Tories now want to balance the books off the backs of ordinary working families and the most vulnerable in society.
“The Tories have turned their backs on the plan delivered in coalition government. Instead they want to cut £1,500 for eight million households, singling out middle and low-income families to bear the burden - and asking nothing from the best off.
“It’s clear from our time in government that the Tories’ target will be slashing support for families. I’m lifting the lid on this now because the Conservatives are trying to con the British people by keeping their planned cuts secret until after the election.
“They now ask the British people to trust them when they make unfunded pledges on health and tax, yet won’t tell us how they will cut welfare for millions of families to pay for their plans. They may give with one hand, but they will take away twice as much with the other.
“The Liberal Democrats will take a fairer approach, cutting less than the Conservatives and borrowing less than Labour, to deliver a stronger economy and fairer society with opportunity for everyone.”
For Labour, shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said: “This evidence confirms the Tories’ secret plan to cut family budgets. As well as planning a £3.8 billion raid on families’ tax credits, this shows they want to make deep cuts to Child Benefit too.”
“The choice is clear: a Tory plan that puts family budgets at risk, or a Labour plan that puts working families first.”