Growth figures boost Coalition parties

George Osborne
George Osborne
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Coalition parties were given a general election boost as GDP figures were revised upwards today.

Chancellor George Osborne said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) assessment that the UK economy grew by 2.8 per cent in 2014 - up 0.2 per cent from earlier estimates - was proof that the Conservatives’ “long-term economic plan” was working.

Liberal Democrat Treasury minister Danny Alexander said his party had been “the rock of stability on which this recovery has taken root” and warned that giving sole control of the economy to either Tories or Labour would put growth at risk.

The new figures came as Prime Minister David Cameron, who took part in a series of TV and radio interviews this morning, challenged Labour to spell out its tax plans, warning voters that Ed Miliband’s party will “pick your pocket” if they win power.

The Prime Minister said both Tories and Labour were promising £30 billion of deficit reduction and cast the election as a “big choice” between Tory plans to achieve the savings through cuts to welfare and public spending, and Mr Miliband’s preference for tax to take some of the burden.

The Conservative leader said he “made no apology” for claiming that Labour would increase taxes on working families by more than £3,000, despite the Tory estimate being judged unfounded by independent economists and dismissed as “made up” by Labour.

He declined to say where the axe would fall in his promised £12 billion cuts on working-age welfare.

Meanwhile, Labour risked a new clash with larger companies by pledging to reverse the Government’s final cut in corporation tax in order to reduce business rates on 1.5 million small business premises - something which Tories warned could cost almost 100,000 jobs.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg committed Lib Dems to providing an extra £2.25 billion for mental health services over the next five years and said the party would deliver the £8 billion a year extra health funding by 2020 demanded by NHS England head Simon Stevens.

And Mr Cameron set out a Tory pledge to boost employment by two million over the course of the next five years by continuing the record of creating 1,000 jobs a day which was achieved under the coalition.