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Howard: Conservative help for homebuyers

Speech at Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"Two weeks today, Britain will give its verdict on Mr Blair's government.

In schools and church halls, millions of people will go into polling booths, pick up that stubby little pencil, and put a cross against the name of one candidate.

When you vote, you're actually sending politicians a message. It's a message about the kind of Britain you believe in.

I believe in a Britain where government helps people who help themselves; a government which rewards families who work hard; a government that does right by people who do the right thing.

Life is a struggle for too many families in Britain today.

Last year average incomes fell for the first time in a decade - thanks to Mr. Blair's punishing stealth taxes.

But it's not enough to criticise.

It's time to offer practical help and that's what Conservatives will do.

By saving two pence in every pound a Conservative Government will stop Labour's planned stealth taxes dead in their tracks. And we'll be able to reward hardworking Britons by lowering taxes for millions of pensioners, homebuyers and people saving for pensions.

That's why I am announcing today that we will abolish Stamp Duty for the average home in Britain.

This will help young people to get onto the property ladder. And it will make it easier for young couples starting a family to buy a bigger home.

Six years ago, you paid £900 on the average house in England and Wales. Under Mr. Blair, it's risen to £1,800. With a Conservative Government, it will be zero.

For most families, their home is their most valuable asset.

It's the bedrock of their security - both financial security and personal security.

It's time we stopped using people's homes as a means of raising taxes by stealth.

It's all part of our detailed, fully-costed plan to give taxpayers value for money.

It used to be said that Mr Blair stole all the Conservative Party's best ideas.

Not any more.

He'd like to - but he can't afford to.

Mr. Blair is spending your money so quickly and so wastefully that he needs to take more and more of it.

In contrast, Conservatives will cut all the waste that Labour won't.

We'll use the money we save to do three things.

First, we'll spend more on frontline services that matter to families - like our schools, hospitals and police.

Second, we'll pay off government borrowing, so we can avoid Mr Blair's next round of stealth taxes.

Third, we will lower taxes.

We're offering lower taxes for families across the generations.

At their core, our plans have a central value: if you do the right thing, we will do the right thing by you.

As I've explained, we'll encourage and help young couples own their own home by abolishing Stamp Duty for the average home in Britain.

We'll reward people in their 30s and 40s who do the right thing and save for retirement by adding an extra £10 to every £100 that basic rate taxpayers put into their pension fund.

We'll give pensioners the dignity and security they deserve by ensuring that households where every adult is aged 65 or over a 50 per cent discount each year on their Council Tax bills up to a maximum of £500.

We know the pressure that homeowners feel from ever-increasing Council Tax, and we'll help them by scrapping Labour's planned stealth tax - the revaluation of homes in England. This will save an estimated 7 million homes from being pushed into a higher tax band.

And whatever your age, my personal commitment to you is never to forget that the money we are spending is YOURS, and so must be spent carefully - and not just handed out to any group that asks for it.

Liberal Democrats will raise taxes: their local income tax would mean the typical working family would pay £600 more in tax - hitting families with working mothers particularly hard.

And Mr Blair, as everyone now knows, will raise taxes - unless you send him a message on May 5th.

The best message to send is to support the only party that wants lower taxes: lower taxes for pensioners; for savers; for homebuyers - for people who do the right thing.

So our message to Britain is you can change it.

Your vote will tell Mr Blair and the Liberal Democrats that higher taxes are not inevitable.

In fact they are unacceptable.

You don't have to settle for it.

We're the fourth richest country in the world. We could be doing so much better.

In just a little over a fortnight, you can send that message.

By supporting your local Conservative candidates, you can vote for a party that has taken a stand on the things that matter - cleaner hospitals, school discipline, fighting crime, controlled immigration and lower taxes for people who do the right thing.

In two weeks time you'll have the only chance to send that message.

Use it well."

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