Earnings dominate the battle for Number 10, while rival childcare policies are also unveiled


Yesterday it was Labour; today it was the turn of the Conservatives and the Green Party to launch their election manifestos, and wages and child-care were once again amongst the top areas being fought on.

Instead of raising the minimum wage, the Conservatives promised that no employee working 30 hours per week on it would pay income tax by 2020. Meanwhile the Green Party upped the ante, improving on Labour’s £8 minimum wage pledge, and raising it to a ‘Living Wage’ of £10.

The Greens also said they would ensure the highest wages in any business should be no more than ten-times the lowest wage, while the top rate of tax would be 60p.

The Tories’ promises around the minimum wage will effectively mean no-one starts paying tax until they earn £12,500 – up from the current £10,600.

But it was childcare that also dominated the agenda. Plans were announced to double the amount of free childcare offered to parents of three and four year old children from 15 to 30 hours per week, with David Cameron saying it was vital parents were able to combine careers with having children.

Should this policy come through, it would start in 2017, and parents would save around £5,000 per year.

But Paul Johnson, director at the Institute of Fiscal Studies told World at One that to achieve all this, and still have a budget surplus, Britain would face “tens and tens of billions of pounds” of spending cuts or tax increases.