George Osborne offers two year council tax freeze

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The Shadow Chancellor has told Conservatives that he will not offer immediate tax cuts if elected because “the cupboard is bare.”

In a keynote speech to the party conference in Birmingham, George Osborne faced off those who want a reduction in the taxes with a blunt assessment of the state of the nation’s finances.

“We built an economy on the engines of finance and housing and government spending, and the government never stopped to think what would happen if the engines stalled,” he told delegates.

“Now the credit has dried up, the engines of the economy have stalled, the party is over.”

However, he did unveil a freeze on council tax. Labour accused him of stealing the idea from the Scottish National Party.

Council tax, which is highly unpopular with voters, will be pegged for two years under the policy, which will save a typical Band D household more than £200.

“Instead of council tax bills that rise year after year under Labour, millions of families will get help at the time they need it most. Conservatives will not leave people to struggle with the credit crunch alone.”

The Tories said that the money would come from central government spending.

“The spend on consultants and advertising will be reduced by £500 million in the first full year of government, and by £1 billion in all subsequent years,” he said.

“As families across the country tighten their belts and live within their means, so should the government,” he said.

“We will bring fiscal responsibility to our government. And we will bring financial responsibility in our economy. We will make sure that this mess never happens again.”

Mr Osborne took a critical stance on the credit crisis.

Earlier today it was confirmed that Bradford and Bingley, a leading UK bank, has folded.

Abbey will take control of its branches and savings accounts, but its mortgage operation is to be nationalised.

“I am not going to blame everything on the bankers alone,” Mr Osborne said.

“But nor am I going to excuse them of their responsibility, or allow them to think that things can carry on as before.

“I am not going to do what the left has done, and use the crisis as an excuse to abandon the free-market economy that has made our country more prosperous.

“But nor am I going to pretend that the crisis doesn’t raise the most profound questions about our financial system and how we regulate it.

“I am not going to claim that this problem only exists in Britain or that it is all the fault of the current government.

“But nor am I going to let them forget who sat there in the Treasury for 10 years while the regulation failed, the debt soared and no one called time on the ‘age of irresponsibility’.”