George Osborne said: "I believe it is perfectly possible for Britain to be the most prosperous major country on earth. The most prosperous, the most dynamic, the most creative. But only if we, in our generation, provide the big answers to the big questions. Only if we choose the future not the past."
He also set out the next steps in the Conservatives' plan to eliminate the deficit and run a surplus in the next parliament:
- The Conservatives will freeze working age benefits from April 2016 for two years. This will save £3.2 billion a year by 2017/18. Disability, carer and pensioner benefits are excluded, as are several smaller benefits such as statutory maternity pay.
- In the Autumn Statement the Treasury will end abuse by multinationals who divert profits offshore in order to avoid corporation tax. This will raise hundreds of millions of pounds as part of an anti-avoidance package raising billions of pounds over the next Parliament. This change will mainly affect multinationals using artificial arrangements to route profits to tax havens that would otherwise have been taxed in the UK. New anti-avoidance measures will dramatically reduce the benefits from complex arrangements such as the so-called "double Irish" used by some large multinationals, particularly in the technology sector. This measure comes after the progress made at the G20 and the OECD by the international "Base Erosion and Profit Shifting" (BEPS) project in which the UK has played a leading role.
The Chancellor also confirmed that:
- This Government will abolish the punitive 55 per cent tax on death that is charged when people pass on a pension pot. The measure will apply to all payments made from April 2015, and means that people who have worked hard and saved all their lives will be able to pass on their hard-earned pension pot tax-free.
- The Conservatives will abolish long term youth unemployment. We will deliver three million apprenticeships over the next Parliament. On top of that, if a young person has been unemployed for six months they will have to take an apprenticeship, training, or work for their benefits. Our plans will give hundreds of thousands of young people the opportunity of a better, more secure future. And we will pay for it by cutting the benefit cap and stopping most young people from claiming Housing Benefit.
Talking about Labour's plans, Mr Leslie commented: "Labour will balance the books as soon as possible in the next Parliament, but we will do so in a fairer way. We will reverse the Tory tax cut for millionaires, stop paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners and cap child benefit rises at one per cent for two years."