POLITICS

George Osborne To Freeze Fuel Duty Until 2015 'If We Can Find The Savings'

30/09/2013 13:17 BST | Updated 30/09/2013 13:19 BST

George Osborne has pledged to freeze fuel duty until May 2015, provided he can find the money to pay for it.

The pledge came as the Chancellor said he would take immediate action to help motorists with the cost of living.

"Provided we can find the savings to pay for it, I want to freeze fuel duty for the rest of this Parliament," he said in his address at the Tory Party's annual conference in Manchester.

"Conservatives don't just talk about being on the side of hard-working people. We show it day in day out in the policies we deliver."

Osborne confirmed plans for a new "Help to Work" scheme under which the long-term unemployed will be required to do community work, such as picking up litter or cleaning graffiti, in return for their benefits, even though analysis from the Department for Work & Pensions shows it is of limited effectiveness.

He said that those who have been unemployed for more than three years would either have to work for their dole, attend job centres daily to search for a job or accept help for underlying problems such as illiteracy or drug dependency.

Defining himself as an "optimist", the Chancellor told Tory activists that, after a series of positive economic indicators, "the sun has started to rise above the hill and the future looks brighter than it did just a few dark years ago".

He said: "These were the years when we laid the sound economic foundations on which better living standards are built, the sound foundations without which better living standards cannot be built.

"This is the time for a serious plan for a grown up country. We're turning Britain around and we say to the people of this nation: we rescued the economy together, we're going to recover together and together, we're going to share in the rewards.

"For the sun has started to rise above the hill and the future looks brighter than it did, just a few dark years ago."

But he added: "The battle to turn Britain around is not even close to being over and we are going to finish what we have started."

Osborne said that a future Tory government would focus on running a surplus and bringing down the overall size of the state debt, even if the deficit is brought under control as forecast.

"I can tell you today that when we've dealt with Labour's deficit, we will have a surplus in good times as insurance against difficult times ahead," said the Chancellor.

"Provided the recovery is sustained, our goal is to achieve that surplus in the next Parliament. That will bear down on our debts and prepare us for the next rainy day.

Osborne added: "These principles will form the foundation of our public finance policy and I will set out the details next year.

"And for those who ask: Is this necessary? I say: What is the alternative? To run a deficit for ever? To leave our children with our debts? To leave Britain perilously exposed to the next time the storm comes?

"This crisis took us to the brink. If we don't reduce our debts, the next could push us over. Let us learn from the mistakes that got Britain into this mess.

"Let us vow: never again. This time we're going to run a surplus. This time we're going to fix the roof when the sun shines."

See also:

George Osborne Looking Evil