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Letwin: Delivering value for money and lower taxes

Speech at election rally in Newquay

"When Michael gave me this job, he told me I had to deliver value for money and lower taxes.

And he means it: because he's determined to reward people who work hard, who help themselves and who do the right thing.

If I fail to deliver, I know he'll find someone else who will.

That's why I've worked so hard over the last twelve months on a detailed, deliverable plan.

Tax cuts mean nothing if they don't last. So they have to be affordable.

If we get value for the money we do spend, we can deliver sustainable tax cuts.

In our first month, we will publish our first Budget - that Budget will set out our spending plans and put Britain on the path to lower taxes.

We will protect the budgets for the key public services.

We will spend the same as Labour plans on hospitals, schools, transport and international aid, with spending on those areas growing by 21 per cent, 13 per cent, 10 per cent and 18 per cent.

We will increase spending beyond Labour's spending plans on the police, pensions and the nation's defences, with spending in those areas growing by 12 per cent, 12 per cent and 9 per cent between 2005-6 and 2007-8.

But we will come down hard on wasteful and unnecessary government spending.

So:

• 168 needless public bodies will disappear;

• 235,000 wasteful bureaucratic posts will go;

• Unelected and unaccountable Regional Assemblies will go; and

• The new Supreme Court will go.

This spending is wasteful and unnecessary - it's not giving taxpayers value for their money.

And that's not just our view.

That is the view of the independent team of experts who conducted our value for money review.

The review identified billions of pounds of savings - largely by cutting down on bureaucracy - in priority areas such as the NHS, schools and the police.

Every penny of the £23 billion saved in these areas will be re-invested: to help provide cleaner hospitals and school discipline; to fund more police on the streets; and improve the quality of services delivered to the public.

The review also identified £12 billion of net savings in non-priority areas.

To make sure our tax cuts are for the long term, £8 billion of these savings will be held back to restore stability to the public finances.

That is the only way to avoid the tax rises which almost every independent economist has said are inevitable under Mr Blair.

And £4 billion is being used to finance our tax cuts: the Council Tax discount for pensioners; tax relief for people who save for their pension; and the abolition of Stamp Duty on homes worth less than £250,000.

These are not vague aspirations. These are absolute commitments.

I've been given my orders and I will deliver."

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