Tag Archives: susan kramer

Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Susan Kramer: Brexit’s impact on financial services could ruin jobs and economy

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Treasury spokesperson Susan Kramer concentrated her remarks on the financial services industry and the impact of its decisions on our economy and the current £75 billion we take in tax from it.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, said that he is very sympathetic to EU nationals in this country. However, he is perfectly happy for them to be used as a bargaining chip. Frankly, I do not think that is consistent with the view of this House or with British values.

Given the pressure of time, I will focus on the importance of giving people a second vote—that is, not a second vote on the original deal but a second vote that is a first vote on the final terms of exit from the European Union. I concur with those who have said that the June referendum gave the Government a mandate for Brexit but did not give them a mandate to choose the most extreme form of economic separation from the EU. It has been Theresa May’s choice and that of her Ministers to opt for a hard Brexit, leaving both the single market and the customs union.

I want to look at the impact of that decision by the May Government on just one sector of our economy—the financial services sector. This sector makes up 7% of the UK’s GDP, pays more than £75 billion a year to the Treasury and provides over 2 million jobs, most of them outside London. It is one of the few industries in which we are a global leader, clearing over 95% of the world’s $600 trillion a day in interest rate swaps, leading not just in traditional areas such as foreign exchange and specialist insurance, but also at the cutting edge of fintech. We damage financial services at our peril.

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Susan Kramer says that Government must unfreeze benefits

Back in July, I told a panel on social security at the Social Liberal Forum conference that in the wake of Brexit, a benefits freeze for four years, which was never a good idea, was entirely inappropriate and we should be opposing it loudly.

Analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies confirms that Brexit is going to hit those on benefits and low incomes particularly hard:

Normally many of those on the lowest incomes would be at least partially protected from the impact of higher prices by the rules that govern the annual uprating of benefits and tax credits. By default, benefit and tax credit rates are (with some exceptions, most notably the state pension) increased each April in line with the annual CPI inflation rate of the previous September – higher prices lead to higher benefit rates (albeit with a lag). However, in the July 2015 Budget the Government announced that, as part of its attempt to cut annual social security spending by £12 billion, most working-age benefit and tax credit rates would be frozen in cash terms until March 2020. This policy represented a significant takeaway from a large number of working age households. But it also represented a shifting of risk from the Government to benefit recipients. Previously, higher inflation was a risk to the public finances, increasing cash spending on benefits. Now the risk is borne by low-income households: unless policy changes higher inflation will reduce their real incomes.

I am glad to see that our shadow Chancellor, Susan Kramer, has now said that the Government must reverse its unfair benefits freeze plans:

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LibLink: Susan Kramer warns about the economic dangers of a reckless exit from the EU

In a letter published in the Financial Times, our economic spokesperson, Baroness Susan Kramer argues that it would be “economic vandalism” for the government to fail to financial services sector during the Brexit process:

The financial services industry generates over £65bn in taxes each year, over one-tenth of total government revenue. The loss of full access to the single market in financial services would not just hurt those in the banking industry. It would mean schools, hospitals and services across the country going without funding. We all want to rebalance our economy to be less reliant on financial services, but failing to support this vital sector during Brexit would be an act of economic vandalism.

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Kramer: Cameron and Osborne must stand up to despots and oligarchs

Lib Dem Economics Spokesperson Susan Kramer was not entirely impressed with David Cameron’s pronouncements on corruption. It’s fair to say she won’t be holding her breath. She said:

We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement that those buying property in the UK or bidding for government contracts will be required to register, but quick action is vital for him to show sincerity, and any such register should be publicly available.

Don’t forget, we have heard similar platitudes before that have amounted to nothing. Back at the G8 conference in 2013 a new drive against tax havens was heralded, and the Panama Papers have exposed just how pathetic that action turned out to be.

When push comes to shove, Cameron and Osborne have shown they will always cater to the whims of corrupt billionaires from across the globe rather than pushing through real change. Unless they are willing to stand up to despots and oligarchs from places like China, Russia and Nigeria, any commitment will prove to be utterly shallow.

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Let’s all defer our tax liability for a year, shall we?

So we have another instance of a large corporation deciding how much tax it’s going to pay. Why does the Government let companies like Facebook, Starbucks, Amazon and Google get away with this?

It’s another example of where being rich and powerful gets you special treatment. The BBC reported:

After heavy criticism that it was avoiding tax, the BBC can reveal that profits from the majority of Facebook’s advertising revenue initiated in Britain will now be taxed in the UK.

It will no longer route sales through Ireland for its largest advertisers.

That includes major businesses such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, consumer goods firm Unilever and advertising giant WPP.

Smaller business sales where advertising is booked online – with little or no Facebook staff intervention – will still be routed through Ireland, which will remain the company’s international headquarters.

I am told the change will mean that Facebook will account for substantially more revenue in the UK and will therefore pay a higher level of corporation tax on the profits it makes here.

Corporation tax is levied at 20% on the profits a business makes.

The changes will be put in place in April and Facebook’s first, higher, tax bill, will be paid in 2017.

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Peers and pancakes race for Rehab charity

Today saw the annual Shrove Tuesday pancake race at the House of Commons in aid of the charity Rehab. You can read all about it and find some amazing looking pancake recipes from the likes of Paul Hollywood, Rick Stein and Gino D’Acampo in the official brochure here. Apple pancakes with Apple Brandy Custard is the one I want to eat most.

Here, courtesy of Terry Stacy, is the Lib Dem contingent of Kate Parminter, Rupert Redesdale, Susan Kramer and Dominic Addington in action.

Lib Dem Peers Pancake team

 

Where’s the pancake?

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Susan Kramer responds to the Autumn Statement in the Lords

New Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson responded to the Autumn Statement in the Lords yesterday. Here’s her speech in full.

It is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, but I confess that he disappointed me today. He did not throw anything, so we have missed out on the drama of the other place. I was also somewhat disappointed in the Budget. It is less generous than it appears on first viewing: we still have a £12 billion cut in welfare. If I understand it correctly, that will now happen as people transfer into universal credit. I am sure that the Minister will advise noble Lords about that—it would be good to understand how it will work. Of course, I am absolutely delighted that the Chancellor reversed his plans to cut tax credits for poor working people. I think, with some interest, that had the Chancellor been a Member of this House a couple of weeks ago, when the relevant statutory instrument was debated, he would have supported neither the Conservative nor the Labour Motion, but the Liberal Democrat fatal Motion.

We are also pleased with the up fronting of money for the NHS in this Budget, especially the investment in mental health. That is welcome, but can the Minister confirm whether that £600 million is new money for mental health and does not contain any former promise within it? We are supportive of stamp duty on buy to let and very supportive of the increased spending on infrastructure. We note that the Chancellor partially explained that that was because borrowing is now cheap. That is what we have been saying for weeks, so we are very glad that he has listened to that argument.

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