PM dismisses 'Bad Friday' claims
David Cameron has dismissed claims families with children will lose £511 a year on average from Friday under tax and benefit changes - insisting the Tories are the party of "the strivers, the grafters, the family raisers".
The Prime Minister said he did not accept the figures produced by a respected think-tank which sparked warnings from anti-poverty campaigners that the start of Easter weekend would be "Bad Friday" for a million or more households.
And he took to the local election trail promising a "flat-out, full-throttle fight" in an effort to wrest back the political initiative after a bruising fortnight for his leadership across a range of issues.
Campaigning in Wales ahead of a key test of voter opinion at the ballot box across most of the UK on May 3, the latest challenge came from figures compiled by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on the impact of cuts to tax credits, showing families with children bearing the brunt of a number of tax and benefit measures coming into force from the start of the financial year.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said it was a "tax credits bombshell" for a million households that would leave some couples better off on benefits than in work.
Mr Cameron acknowledged "difficult decisions" had been taken on tax credits but said 24 million taxpayers would be £6.50 per week better off due to a rise in the income tax allowance. He said he "did not accept the figures" from the IFS.
In a speech to activists in Llandudno, he urged them to tell voters that the Tories were the party "that cares about the strivers, the grafters, the family raisers, the community builders" and he dismissed mounting criticism of the Government and declared ministers were "looking at the horizon not the headlines".
"We may take our hits but always remember this: we are making the hard, long-term decisions that are vital to the future of Britain," he said. "We are doing our duty by our country and that has always been the Conservative way."
He said he would ignore "whispering voices" telling him to hold back on radical changes. "Yes, cutting spending is tough. But in the years ahead people will look back and see that what we're doing today has laid the foundations for a sounder, stronger economy. We need a flat-out, full-throttle fight.
"That's what we need to tell people: that this is a government that's looking at the horizon, not at the headlines, that cares about working for the long-term good, not short-term popularity, that works in the national interest, not the party interest."