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March 31 - April 6 2010
μWorld News PAGES 14-17
μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituaries PAGES 22-23
μExpat Life PAGES 30-32
Was it murder? Police reopen inquiries into death of Shirley Bassey’s daughter
When friends fall out Stephen Pollard on the widening split between Israel and the US
EXPAT LIFE P30
Man with a plan Why Lord Adonis is bent on bringing high speed rail to the UK
International education Our latest expat guide looks at top British schools in Spain
5 3 23 28 42 49 6 11 15 32 38 42
Bonus Ball 41
Bonus Ball 24
There were four winners of Wednesday’s £2.2m jackpot and three winners of Saturday’s £4.6m prize
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Election 2010 Go online for full coverage of the television debates between the parties telegraph.co.uk/election
The prince and the email
By James Kirkup Political Correspondent THE Conservatives are promising to block next year’s rises in National Insurance, allowing them to fight the general election on a platform of lower taxes than Labour.
The multi-billion-pound tax pledge, to be made by David Cameron and George Osborne, is intended to open up “clear blue water” between the parties.
Tory insiders said it would form the centrepiece of the Conservative election campaign and make seven out of 10 workers better off.
National Insurance contributions (Nics) are due to rise by a penny in the pound from April next year under Labour plans.
As The Telegraph went to press the Tories were preparing to set out how they would repeal that rise for many workers and employers.
The commitment follows a narrowing of the party’s lead in the opinion polls since the budget, which suggests that Labour has regained support on its handling of the economy.
A YouGov poll in The Sunday Times put the Conservatives on 37 per cent, down one percentage point on the week before the Budget. Labour was on 32 per cent, up a point.
Were those results to be repeated in the general election, Labour could cling on as the largest party in the Commons, but short of an overall majority.
By Jon Swaine and Holly Watt TENS of thousands of NHS workers would be sacked, hospital units closed and patients denied treatments under secret plans for £20 billion of health cuts.
The sick would be urged to stay at home and email doctors rather than visit surgeries, while procedures such as hip replacements could be scrapped.
The plans have emerged as health chiefs draw up emergency budgets that cast doubt on pledges by Gordon Brown to protect “front line services” in the NHS.
Documents show that health chiefs are considering plans to begin sacking workers, cutting treatments and shutting wards across the country. The proposals could lead to: Š10 per cent of NHS staff being sacked in some areas. ŠThe loss of thousands of hospital beds. ŠA reduction in the number of ambulance call-outs. ŠMedical professionals being replaced by less qualified assistants.
Labour has tried to suggest that the Tory plans for National Insurance contributions would be funded by increasing VAT after the election, but Conservative sources insisted that their plan would not be funded by tax rises.
Instead, the party will pledge to cut similar sums from public spending next year. That could mean several billion pounds worth of cuts, further widening the political gap between the main parties.
Workers currently pay 11 per cent Nics on earnings up to the upper tax threshold of £37,400, and 1 per cent on all earnings above that. These rates will rise to 12 per cent and 2 per cent from April 2011.
It means that a worker earning £40,000 will pay £187 more in National Insurance next year. Someone earning £60,000 will pay £387 more.
Employers also pay Nics of 12.8 per cent on wages. That is due to rise to 13.8 per cent. Economists say that rises in employer Nics are effectively passed on to workers.
The fact that the Tories have admitted that not every worker will benefit from their changes indicates that the they might leave the extra penny on Nics on earnings above £37,400.
While such a move could antagonise middle-income voters, it would help the Conservatives portray themselves as committed to helping those on low incomes first.
A LEAKED Foreign Office memo that accused Afghan officials of “incompetence” while hosting the Prince of Wales’s visit to the country last week has caused consternation in Whitehall.
The email, by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Britain’s special representative to Afghanistan,
spoke of the “frustrations” of the trip, during which President Hamid Karzai was absent. “This defeated one of its main purposes,” it stated. During the visit, the Prince met British troops who regaled him with “squaddie humour”.
Report, page 7
The plans are contained in a series of internal NHS documents uncovered by The Telegraph.
The final details of the plans are not due to be announced until the autumn, well after the country has gone to the polls for the general election.
The Conservatives and health campaigners said the public deserved to know the true extent of cuts at their local surgeries and hospitals before voting.
Last year all English health authorities were ordered by Sir David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, to reconsider their plans after the recession forced the Government to freeze health spending from April next year.
This left a ‘‘black hole’’ of up to £20 billion in health budgets up to 2014, prompting the drawing up of new proposals by the 10 strategic health authorities (SHAs).
They had until last Friday to submit their plans to Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary. He is under pressure from the Treasury to show how money will be saved to help bring down Britain’s £167billion deficit.
In last week’s Budget, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, repeated that the £20 billion would come through “efficiency savings” and not key services.
Documents produced by several of the SHAs show how the cuts are expected to fall on hospital services.
In the South East Coast region, which covers Surrey, Kent and Sussex, up to £1.6 billion must be saved.
A document marked “restricted” and circulated among SHA board members suggests that 10,000 of the region’s 100,000 NHS workers may be set to lose their jobs.
“The new financial environment demands that the trend in workforce growth must be reversed,” it said, adding that bosses must reduce employee numbers by 10 per cent “or further”.
The document said staffing in the acute sector, covering hospitals, “can be expected to decline faster and further” than elsewhere.
Continued from page 1 Critics also pointed out that government spending would actually rise by more than 2 per cent in real terms over the next year.
Mr Darling told MPs he was standing by his forecast that the economy would grow by 1 to 1.5 per cent this year. However, he slightly downgraded his prediction for next year to 3 to 3.5 per cent compared with the 3.5 per cent he had previously predicted.
Even so, his latest forecasts were judged to be overoptimistic by most independent experts.
Mr Darling’s strategy of targeting the rich prompted criticism that Labour was seeking a return to the politics of class warfare but the Chancellor said: “We have not raised these taxes out of dogma or ideology. But I believe those who have benefited the most from the strong growth in incomes in past years should now pay their fair share of tax.”