Tag Archives: tax

LibLink: Willie Rennie: SNP obduracy on using tax powers shows party is no champion of progressive politics

Willie Rennie’s ambition for better education and health services in Scotland has been clear and so has his ambition to use the tax raising powers given to the Scottish Parliament. His plan for a penny on income tax for an almost half billion investment in education to introduce the Pupil Premium, extend nursery education and reverse cuts to college and schools funding.

The SNP, having squealed blue murder for years about not having enough powers to do anything, fails to use them when they are given them.

Willie often says these days that the SNP “talk left and walk right” and he has written a damning critique of the SNP’s approach in the Herald.

As it was a Liberal Democrat Secretary of State who delivered these new tax powers, it is perhaps not surprising that we were the first to propose using them to transform education in Scotland. By putting a penny for education onto income tax bands, we would raise £475 million a year.

Willie’s proposals have brought outrage from SNP and Tories alike. Finance Minister John Swinney said he would rather sacrifice public sector jobs (which in turn affects the most vulnerable) than raise tax rates. The Resolution Foundation says a tax rise is progressive. Willie challenges the SNP:

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Is the Basic Income Guarantee an idea whose time has come?

Way back when I was first involved in politics, the ideas that everyone should have a basic income and that tax and national insurance should be integrated were mainstream SDP/Liberal Alliance ideas.

The Greens have in recent years been the only party to advocate such a change but during the General Election, Natalie Bennett was unable to convince people that it was affordable.

This week, think-tank Reform Scotland has come up with a costed scheme to give every adult a basic income of £100 per week and every child £50. The authors, Liberal Democrat Siobhan Mathers and Scottish Green candidate James Mackenzie, acknowledge that there would be a cost, around £2 billion in Scotland, £12 billion across the whole UK and that personal taxation rates would have to rise by about 8%, but that nobody earning under £26,000 a year would be worse off. However, with 2 children, a £100k household would be over £1200 a year better off

It’s certainly radical, with those on lowest incomes gaining and those on £100,000 without children being around £2,200 a year worse off, but isn’t that what a progressive tax system is supposed to do? There is a question, though, around whether a £100k household needs to be mae £1200 a year better off courtesy of the state.

The report argues that there are seven big advantages of such a scheme:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 25 Comments

Rennie to SNP: Are you conservative or progressive?

Willie Rennie will challenge the SNP in a parliamentary debate on their budget this week to actually use the powers that are coming the Scottish Parliament’s way and raise the rate of income tax to pay for a £475m investment in education. The SNP, of course, are holding out for independence and have no intention of showing that the powers they have can make a huge difference. In their 9 years in office, they’ve not even used the tax-raising powers that came to Scotland with devolution in 1999.

Willie’s penny on tax for education is a bold move. Saying you’ll put up taxes is a risk for a party in our position, but this is no time to play it safe. Anyway, just from talking to people, I think that there is a sense that you get what you pay for and if you want world class public services, you need to put money into them.

Willie said:

Liberal Democrats will be using this debate to challenge the SNP to show whether they are conservative or progressive, whether they’ll keep talking left but walking right.

Liberal Democrats are the only ones calling for Parliament to actually use the new powers we’ll get in April. Why wait? There is no point in sitting around, twiddling our thumbs, when we could make a real difference to the life chances of Scots.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

Willie Rennie’s penny on tax for biggest investment in Scottish education since devolution

Willie and ACH on nursery visit

Finally, someone is actually planning on using the new tax-varying powers given to Scotland. Willie Rennie has made a big announcement on education this morning. He intends cleaning up the mess the SNP have made in education with 4 radical measures, paid for by a modest rise in income tax which will not affect anyone who earns £19,000 a year or less.

That £475 million investment will include the Lib Dem Pupil Premium, already successful in England and, thanks to Kirsty Williams, in Wales. That’s all about giving extra money to disadvantaged kids in school. Then there’s investment in nurseries and colleges, as well as a reversal of the SNP’s education cuts.

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Dear Tories, repetition doesn’t make something true. Cutting income tax for lowest paid was a Lib Dem idea and you know it.

lib dem manifesto tax cutFor some time now, the Conservative Party have been taking every opportunity to take credit for raising the tax threshold to £10,500 despite this being one great big fat distortion of the truth.

Most recently, Surrey Liberal Democrat councillor was distinctly unamused to find an email from Tory Treasury Minister Priti Patel in her inbox. It said:

Fiona,

See how much our income tax cuts will save you – try our quick calculator today.

The Conservatives believe in cutting taxes.

If you’re working hard to provide for your family, you should keep more of the money you earn.

That’s why we’ve cut income tax every year we’ve been in office – and why we’re committed to keep on cutting income tax after the next election.

Over 24 million people have had their income tax cut. To find out how much you’ll save, use our simple tax cut calculator today:

Find out how much you'll save

Yours,

Priti Patel

Nick Clegg told last year how he had to “drag the Tories kicking and screaming” to deliver the tax cut.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments

Crockart: Liberal Democrats have recalibrated the tax system in favour of low and middle income earners

Edinburgh West MP Mike Crockart has been poring through tax data and has concluded that Liberal Democrats have successfully recalibrated the tax system so that low and middle earners are paying less tax and big companies are paying more tax. He cites figures which show that tax collected from low and middle income earners has fallen from £3170 million to £2720 million over the last 4 years at the same time as £16 billion more was collected over the last two years from larger companies as a result of HM Revenue and Customs’ enforcement activity.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 17 Comments

Opinion: Federalism and hypothecation do not mix

I was dismayed to read in Mohsin Khan’s recent piece calling for an NHS contribution that the leadership is, again, considering an NHS tax.

How history repeats itself. Ten or so years ago, when working for the Welsh Party, I opposed plans for what the Federal Policy Committee was then also referring to as an NHS contribution. My contention was, and remains, that a commitment to a Federal UK is not compatible with hypothecated taxation.

Whilst taxes are collected at a UK level, spending priorities are determined by devolved institutions. In our devolved context, any claim that a tax is truly hypothecated is simply dishonest. We could not guarantee that a centrally collected NHS tax would be spent on the NHS in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.  It is impossible to require a particular portion of taxation to be spent in the devolved nations on specific areas without requiring them to do so by law.  This would laugh in the face of the liberal principle of subsidiarity and is clearly a non-starter.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments
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