The coalition Government will today jostle to appear most in touch with voters as details of free school meals for infants and a tax break for married couples are revealed.
Chancellor George Osborne will deliver his autumn financial statement – with Westcountry families set to benefit from the two high-profile giveaways.
Some 405,000 families in the greater South West will benefit from the married couples' transferable allowance in 2015, parliamentary figures reveal.
The flagship Conservative policy – to be introduced in April 2015 at the height of the next general election campaign – will be worth up to £200 a year for couples, including civil partnerships, who qualify.
It can only be claimed by couples in which the highest earner is a basic rate taxpayer – meaning couples that include a higher rate taxpayer will not get it – and works by transferring any tax-free allowance where one partner has not used all of their allowance.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats will underline how millions of pounds will be handed to schools to set up new kitchens and dining rooms as part of the Government's plan to offer every five to seven-year-old a free school dinner.
Around £150 million of public money is to be made available to help infant schools in England improve their dining facilities, the government said last night. It comes just months after Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg announced proposals for universal free meals for infant school children.
In the South West, around 168,400 pupils will be eligible for the scheme, which is due to be introduced in September next year, it has emerged.
This includes 22,216 pupils in Devon, 16,409 in Cornwall, 8,603 in Plymouth and 3,960 in Torbay.
It is expected to save parents around £437 per year, per child.
Underlining coalition tensions, Michael Gove's Department of Education was last night accused of lying in a furious turf war that left the Education Secretary sidelined when David Cameron appeared to side with the Deputy Prime Minister. Sources linked to the Department for Education are understood to have briefed reporters that the DPM was possibly planning to raid the basic needs budget, used to meet the demand for extra places, to fund the move and then later dismissed claims that unspent cash was available in the maintenance budget to cover the cost.
In a particularly robust counter-briefing senior Liberal Democrat sources accused the DfE of lying, going rogue and being hostile.
Downing Street then made it clear that it was Tory Mr Gove's department that were out of line.