Opinion: How I helped develop our £10,000 tax threshold policy

When Nick Clegg was first elected leader, he announced a new tax policy – to reduce the percentage paid from 20% to 16%. The policy was duly passed at the 2008 Conference. Another delegate mentioned to me that he would prefer to see the Income Tax threshold raised taking the lowest paid out of tax. ‘Too late now’ he said.

I took this as a challenge and looked for a way of changing tax policy. I didn’t have to wait long. Jo Swinson MP sent an email to Women Liberal Democrats asking for policy ideas for the Manifesto Day at the LSE in January. Soon after, I attended my local Regional Conference and met Vince Cable. I asked him if there was any reason the income tax threshold couldn’t be raised to the level of the minimum wage. ‘Ah’ he said ‘That’s my ultimate dream.” I suggested to WLD that I look at this and they agreed. As an MP, Jo had access to the costings figures and she agreed to ask the Treasury questions on my behalf. I prepared a set of proposals looking at how far we could raise the threshold. Raising it to the level of the then minimum wage , then £11,552, would cost £29bn.

On the Manifesto Day, we were surprised by the number of MPs who came along to our discussion group as they wanted to support us. We had a several discussion groups, but they all reported back with the same decision – we should raise the income tax threshold to the level of the minimum wage. I had a photo taken with Nick Clegg and introduced myself, admitting that my tax policy was in opposition to his. I was taken aback when Nick said he was supporting my proposal as it would help much more people than his. Suddenly I realised we were onto a winner.

I wrote a policy motion, calling for the income tax threshold to be raised to the level of the National Minimum Wage and in May, WLD, along with several local parties submitted it for discussion at the 2009 Autumn Conference. In July, I was astonished to see Nick Clegg on the news, announcing the Liberal Democrat’s new tax policy – the first £10k earned would be tax free. I’d succeeded. Liberal Democrat tax policy had been changed. It was so popular I hoped that whoever won the General Election would implement the policy. I didn’t expect that the Liberal Democrats would have that opportunity, but we did.

The next challenge is to get the threshold raised to the level of the National Minimum Wage and to get it pegged there and we will have permanently improved the income of the lowest paid in Britain as well as putting money back in the pockets of 26 million people.

To quote Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

 

* Elizabeth Jewkes is an exec member of both Lib Dem Women and the Lib Dem Christian Forum and has been standing in parliamentary elections for the Liberal Democrats since 1992.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

8 Comments

  • Thanks for this Elizabeth. Very nice to have background info like this. This is my favourite Lib Dem policy (well favourite policy of anyone’s). A work of genius! I’m with you on the campaign to get it up to minimum wage!

  • Fab article, and congratulations Elizabeth – great to see how our party can get excellent policy translated from the membership to law.

    One question though, what does WLD stand for? The acronym isn’t explained in the article.

  • Elizabeth Jewkes 25th Mar '13 - 9:57pm

    Sorry, as Dave said, WLD does stand for Women Liberal Democrats.
    The BBC described this policy as “The policy every party wishes was theirs” . Apparently, the policy has a unheard of 65% approval rating amongst voters.

  • Galen Milne 26th Mar '13 - 8:32am

    Malcolm Bruce MP, now Sir Malcolm, had the £10K tax threshold in our 1997 manifesto so I reckon he really has the bragging rights on this one as he was our Treasury spokesman at the time

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoland 27th Sep - 1:45am
    Rebecca, Tim's speech and the webinar are not primary sources. Given it seems you are more familiar with this material and specifically the OECD report...
  • User AvatarManfarang 27th Sep - 1:10am
    Jayne “BJP workers have sacrificed their lives for the cause of democracy. Violence is not the right road to democracy. Ahuti must be discussed at...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Sep - 12:53am
    Stevan I see your point in this , but my view is if those like you or I or any of us who have ever...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 27th Sep - 12:20am
    The problem is, Lorenzo, that you and I and 97% of this Party have no influence to insert radical elements, new ways of working and...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 26th Sep - 11:33pm
    A lot of good sense in the words above from Tony H, Stevan Rose and Tim Hill, different though they are in views. My view...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 26th Sep - 11:26pm
    Rebecca , very good to see you on here, you have not been regularly commenting , I liked your previous contributions and considerable knowledge on...