Tag Archives: budget

Budget drama in Scotland – Willie Rennie wants “an education focus as never before”

The Scottish Government unveils its budget this Thursday. The SNP mislaid their majority in Holyrood in the elections last year so there could be a bit of drama between now and February when the Finance Bill is finalised.

The last time a Budget fell was in 2009 when the Greens, to everyone’s surprise, voted against. A couple of weeks later, to nobody’s surprise, they voted for it but hadn’t extracted anything of consequence from the Government.

When John Swinney was Finance Minister, he used to engage pretty well with the other parties. Willie Rennie was able to get things like free school meals, tens of thousands of college places and nursery education for 2 years olds put in. However, now that we have started beating the SNP pretty comprehensively, the atmosphere has turned a bit nasty.

New Finance Minister Derek Mackay is playing games with crucial inter-island ferry services in Orkney and Shetland, both represented by Liberal Democrat MSPs. Various SNP Ministers have been giving the very strong impression that they would help the Islands Councils with the cost of these ferries without which some remote communities simply could not survive.

Now, however, they are inferring that it’ll only go in the Budget if the Lib Dems promise to vote for it. That sort of posturing doesn’t play well in those communities. The issue was debated in Parliament last week during a Lib Dem opposition day and the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf made a pretty blatant threat.

There is a window of opportunity for Liberal Democrat members of the Scottish Parliament. Either they can engage positively in the budget, have a discussion about this important issue and side with their constituents, or they can play party politics.

I mean, we’d brought the issue to the floor of the Parliament, which was discussing it at that time and made its view plain by passing the Lib Dem motion. If SNP ministers fail to honour Parliament’s wishes, that is a pretty serious thing. 

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Lib Dems respond to the budget: We would kickstart the economy back to growth and exit from Brexit

So, we’ve seen the extent of Phil’s spreadsheet and it didn’t make pretty reading. An economy on the slide, a disastrous Brexit on the horizon, growth forecasts crumbling – and that’s before we even get to the awful bit. Hammond’s response to all of this seemed so, well, inadequate. It’s like your town is flooding before your eyes and someone goes to Boots and buys a bath sponge to mop up the damage.

If this country is going to survive the oncoming storm it needed massive investment – a social housebuilding programme to rival that in the post war years, investment in infrastructure, a boost to the NHS. What do we get instead? A bit of tinkering and a few little traps set for the SNP to try to bolster the Tories in Scotland.

Vince Cable told Adam Boulton that we’re in a mess, the slump in economic growth costs each of us £700 and that the Chancellor has put more money aside in the event of a horrendous brexit no deal crash than he has invested in the NHS. Watch him here.

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Vince: Only Lib Dems offer strategy for growth and prosperity

Earlier, we brought you a flavour of Vince’s big pre-Budget speech.  Here is the speech in full:

As Leader of the Liberal Democrats, it is one of my responsibilities to give a serious Lib Dem analysis of the economics around the Budget, and to present an alternative.

I have recently been returned to Parliament from exile.

One of my regrets, however, is that the previous competition between the parties on economic competence no longer exists.

The likes of Gordon Brown, George Osborne, Ed Balls and Oliver Letwin were all serious players and thinkers even if I often disagreed with them.

Now, the economy – pivotal still to people’s lives – has been relegated to the margins of political debate.

The June election produced minimal discussion of economic policy.

The Conservatives didn’t produce any economic numbers in their manifesto.

Labour did, but as the IFS caustically pointed out at the time, there was a strong element of fantasy.

My Party did much better than our rivals at the hands of the IFS and serious commentators at the FT and The Economist but few noticed. And, now, economic debate is drowned out by the politics of Brexit and an unstable government.

Yet this is an unusually important and difficult budget.

The Chancellor has foresworn the use of a second budget, traditionally used to correct the mistakes in the first.

And the potential for a massive, if unquantifiable, economic shock from an unsatisfactory deal – or, even, ‘no deal’ is palpable.

Brexit hangs over the forecasts.

The environment of radical uncertainty is already spooking business investment and depressing growth, including the growth in government revenue.

I want, then, to set out some analysis of where we are and some ideas for where the Liberal Democrats think Britain could and should go.

Our focus is on freeing up capital spending to build the homes and infrastructure the country needs, on reviving the NHS with a targeted injection of cash, and on giving a leg up to young people with a learning account as they begin their working lives.

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Rennie says SNP Government must put more into mental health, the police and helping disadvantaged kids in schools

It’s time for the Scottish Parliament to debate the Government’s budget plans for the coming year. It’s particularly interesting this year as the SNP no longer has a majority and must secure the backing, or at least the abstention, of others in order for the budget to pass.

Willie Rennie has written to Derek Mackay, the SNP’s Finance Minister, to set out the changes that the Liberal Democrats wish to see before they could consider supporting the budget.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that he is sticking to the priorities we outlined in our manifesto for the Scottish elections last year – more money for disadvantaged kids in schools as we implemented successfully south of the border, an expansion of mental health services, particularly for young people, and more funding for the Police who are struggling to cope with the SNP’s disastrous centralisation.

It’s quite important that we have all this in mind in everything that we do during this Parliament. We need to think about what we want to achieve and what we will have to say to voters in 2021 about what we have fought for and where we are not prepared to settle for tepid, unambitious half-measures. In the last Parliament, where the SNP had a majority, we still made issues like early years education, colleges, the Police, civil liberties and mental health our own and won significant concessions from the SNP in budget discussions. Now that there is no majority, we need to push for more.

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The Greatest Show On Earth

 

From the great theatrical showman in Las Vegas to the street-hustlers on trestle tables asking tourists to watch the cups; misdirection, the foremost requirement of magic, is a deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.

No matter in what forum they perform, from street magicians to TV illusionists, magicians have the ability to use their skills to create something out of nothing, of reordering the universe to defy the rules of logic before our very eyes – and who knew that the Conservative government was creating the greatest show on earth.

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Independent: Liberal Democrats’ “major and under-rated contribution” to Budget success

Budget 2010 photocallYesterday’s Independent editorial had some very complimentary things to say about the Liberal Democrats’ influence on the Budget:

It is widely said that George Osborne had a decent Budget this week, aided in no small part by Ed Miliband’s curiously weak response. But the Liberal Democrats, as has frequently been the case during this parliament, made a major and underrated contribution to its success.

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Alan Reid MP writes… Time for the Chancellor to be fair on Scotch

WhiskyAs the local MP for Islay, I see frequently just how important whisky is to the island. Eight distilleries (and another planned), and the world famous brands they produce, help to drive the local economy and attract tourists from around the world to a remote corner of the Scottish west coast.

What is less easy to understand is why the UK continues to penalise the industry in its home market. Today, nearly 80% of an average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky – four pounds in every five you spend on a bottle – is accounted for by tax, making whisky one of the UK’s highest taxed consumer products.

Excise duty on whisky has increased by 44% since the introduction of an annual 2% above inflation duty escalator in 2008. The result has been predictable and damaging. The UK market for Scotch is now 12% lower than it was when the escalator was introduced, a loss of 6,500 bottles from the market every day.

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Budget 2013…..Live Blog

George Osborne is about to get to his feet to deliver his Budget.

IF campaign Budget Dy

In Parliament Square this morning, Enough Food IF campaigners gathered to remind him to stick to the 0.7% overseas aid pledge.

Join us for our budget live blog.

“It was of course inevitable that debit reduction would impact on growth, but what the independent OBR figures show quite clearly is that other factors – namely the weak international picture and higher-than-expected inflation – have had a much greater impact on economic growth. Given the risks of not …

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Opinion: Liberal Reform urge MEPs to oppose a secret vote on the EU Budget

European Parliament chamber, StrasbourgIt probably came as a  surprise to most Lib Dems to hear  that it is possible to have a secret vote in the European Parliament at all, let alone when as few as 20% of MEPs call for one. Press reports that some members want a secret vote so they can safely vote against the EU Budget are shocking, because knowing how elected representatives vote is surely the most basic piece of information required to hold them accountable.

If the EU Budget is rejected, after a secret vote, there is not the slightest doubt that it will be seized upon by those in the UK who want us to leave to leave the EU.  Not only should our own MEPs, but also ALDE as a whole, should be opposed to a secret vote in this case, and they should act to change the Parliament’s rules to make secret votes impossible.

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Kirsty Williams AM writes: Welsh Liberal Democrats will fight for more for disadvantaged children

Yesterday the Welsh Labour Government submitted its £15 billion draft budget which reveals its spending plans for the next year.

In its current form, the Welsh Liberal Democrats cannot support this budget as we don’t believe it goes far enough to tackle the problem of making sure that children from deprived backgrounds get the fair start in life they deserve.

Last year, the Welsh Liberal Democrats vastly improved the Welsh Government’s budget by agreeing to support it in return for the introduction of a Welsh Pupil Premium. Despite failing standards in our schools and an ever growing spending gap per pupil when compared …

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Labour leaning think-tank IPPR backs Osborne on ‘granny tax’

George Osborne has received support from an unexpected source: the Labour leaning think tank, the IPPR.

In an article entitled “Why Osborne’s ‘granny tax’ makes sense“, Senior Research Fellow at the IPPR, Kayte Lawton says:

It is right for older people to contribute to deficit reduction…

Older people have been relatively protected from the spending cuts imposed by the coalition. The young have taken the brunt of the pain… Asking older people to contribute to tackling the deficit and shoring up the country’s tax base in the long-term is not unreasonable…

Osborne’s pleas of simplification have not played well, but he is right that age-related allowances add

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LibLink: Redressing the balance between the generations

Chris Nicholson, Director of CentreForum, has posted his take on the Budget on Total Politics.  He concludes:

It is often said that the best Budgets are usually those that get the immediate negative headlines. While the press has focused on the alleged “unfairness” of the Budget, history is likely to be rather kinder in suggesting that the budget has been much fairer than it at first sight appeared.

You can read the reasons for his optimism here.

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How do you keep a secret? Or why Chris Leslie shouldn’t become an undercover detective

Imagine you have something you want to keep secret. You’re going to do something, and you don’t want anyone to know.

Chances are, you’ll take a look around and make sure there aren’t any  TV cameras pointed at you and rolling away live coverage to several channels. Perhaps the memory of politicians running into problems with comments caught on microphones come to mind, and you’ll take a good look around to ensure there aren’t any in the same room as you that might be used by a national radio station or two.

Then you’ll remember to check you’re alone. Don’t want to …

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LibLink: David Laws on the Budget in the Telegraph

David Laws penned his thoughts about the Budget in the Telegraph yesterday, under the headline “Budget 2012: Not so much a gamble, more a grand strategy”

He writes:

Despite its scratchy origins, this was a strong Conservative-Lib Dem Budget, reminiscent of the earliest days of the Coalition at its best. It was radical and combined both enterprise and fairness. It did not duck difficult decisions or end up with lowest common denominator compromises. At times, the run-up may have looked like Coalition politics at their worst. I would argue that what resulted was Coalition policy-making at its best.

The Liberal Democrats challenged the

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What Liberal Democrat Bloggers are saying about the Budget – Part 2

The Liberal Democrat blogosphere is continuing to talk about the Budget, so here are some of the latest offerings.

Sandy Walkington thinks that the Budget is a dish best observed cold.

I tend to aim off from all instant, hyperbolic reactions to the Budget.  When I worked as a press officer in the oil industry, Budget Day was a time for synthetic outrage at the latest iniquity heaped on the long suffering motorist or on the plucky explorers of the North Sea.  And then the sun continued to rise and set.

In the current global economic circumstances which only compound the reckless public

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Labour’s hypocrisy on the ‘Granny Tax’

The response from Labour and the tabloids to yesterday’s Budget have majored on the patronisingly termed ‘Granny Tax’.

However Ed Balls and colleagues must be delighted that so far everyone seems to have missed that the last Government froze the Age Allowance between 2009-11 – or as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves would term it Labour imposed ‘an enormous stealth tax for older people’.

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Budget 2012: A strategic and substantive victory for the Lib Dems

The big substantive Liberal Democrat wins that yesterday’s budget contained will be familiar to regular readers by now. However, I think it’s worth highlighting once again just how big a deal the increase in the personal allowance announced yesterday is. A rise of £1100 is unprecedented, and means that those earning the minimum wage and working full time will have seen their income tax bills halved because of the Liberal Democrats.

Before Nick Clegg intervened publicly back in February to call for the threshold to be raised faster than previously anticipated, the working assumption was that it would be raised by …

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My Bob and the Granny Tax

My dear husband is not a Granny. And he’d better not be a Grandad for a very long time to come, given that our daughter is not yet a teenager. He is of an age to be affected by the so called “Granny Tax” eventually.

Now, you might, if you wish, feel a bit of sympathy for poor Bob. It must feel sometimes like George Osborne has pulled his name out of a hat and decided just to chip away at his income.

First he decided that in the year Bob reaches 65, the State Pension age will go up to 66 …

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“Budget 2012: new tycoon tax in victory for Nick Clegg”

“Budget 2012: new tycoon tax in victory for Nick Clegg” – so reports the Daily Telegraph:

In a significant victory for the Liberal Democrats, the Chancellor effectively introduced a 25 per cent minimum rate of tax in the Budget.

Under the changes, he will limit how much people offset their tax bills by investing in businesses or donating to charity.

Anyone seeking to claim more than £50,000 of tax relief in any one year will have a cap set at 25 per cent of their income from 2013.

Accountants said this means the wealthiest will have to pay at least 25 per cent of their income in tax. Although the highest rate of income tax is 50 per cent, reducing to 45 per cent next year, some wealthy people reduce their bills to almost nothing using different reliefs available from HM Revenue and Customs.

The introduction of this major change to the tax system is one of the main reasons why, as I wrote yesterday, if you are on more than £150,000, you will pay an extra £1,300 a year in tax on average as a result of this Budget.

As for what Labour would do on the 50p rate they seem to be flip and flopping with each new interview – sometimes saying they would reintroduce it if they had the chance tomorrow/next week, and sometimes not.

For more on the Budget see a couple of the media interviews I did yesterday – first on the News Channel and then on Radio 4:

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What Lib Dem bloggers are saying about the Budget

I thought I’d do a quick roundup of what Liberal Democrat bloggers have been saying about today’s Budget. I suspect there will be more tomorrow.

Stephen Williams MP was probably always going to be supportive but he has an extra reason – and it’s all to do with Wallace and Gromit:

The Budget also had some good news for Bristol.  You wouldn’t expect Wallace and Gromit to feature in a budget.  But the Chancellor mentioned them in his speech as he is proposing an extension of film tax credits to made for tv films.  I met with Aardman Animations a few

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The Independent View: Budget lifts a million people out of Income Tax

The news that the UK’s February borrowing figures were the worst on record did not exactly provide the Budget mood music the Chancellor was hoping for. Then again, the stark reminder that the UK is living well beyond its means serves to buttress his arguments about the need to control spending. There is no money to spend, and even with the current deficit-cutting fervour from Number 11 the UK remains at the whim of global bond markets.

So how did George do? The stamp-duty increase on homes worth more than £2 million is eminently sensible, but must be accompanied by the …

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Danny Alexander MP writes… Liberal Democrat budget victory for “further faster” tax campaign

Over 20 million working people will be better off next year after Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government delivered the biggest ever increase in the income tax personal allowance in the Budget.

The increase of £1,100 is worth £220 to 21 million working people – taking the total income tax cut for working people delivered over 3 years by the coalition to nearly £550 a year. Two million people will pay no income tax at all. By going ‘further and faster’ as Nick Clegg promised, we’re getting real help to millions of hard-pressed people at a time when they need …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP writes a weekly column for newspapers in his constituency. Here’s the latest edition.

The Economy

 The economy remains the most important concern for people in my constituency and last week’s employment figures were a reminder of the challenging economic climate and that getting people into work is the UK Government’s first priority for Scotland.

We are doing all we can to get people working by laying the foundations for more sustainable growth and creating the conditions for businesses to invest in good quality jobs. By reducing corporation tax and making tough decisions on public spending …

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‘Quad’ finalises Budget details

PoliticsHome reports:

The Prime Minister and Chancellor have held final meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander to finalise the Budget.

Footage of the meeting of the ‘quad’ was released this afternoon amid reports that the Chancellor will scrap the 50p top rate of tax from next year and replace it with a new 45p rate.

George Osborne hopes the new rate, which will take effect from April 2013, will raise more money and encourage

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LibLink: Mark Pack – I was wrong about the Budget

Writing over on his work blog, Lib Dem Voice’s Mark Pack withdraws one Budget prediction and offers us three others instead:

Cunning negotiating strategy or basic mistake? Whatever the view you have of the tax motion at Liberal Democrat conference and Stephen Williams’s speech moving it, my interpretation of it was wrong.

Far from signalling the determination of the party’s leadership to see the 50p tax rate remain, it was in fact a sideshow and the rate will go. A kind interpretation is that standing by the 50p rate so publicly was part of a negotiating strategy to extract greater concessions

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Opinion: What message would scrapping the 50p rate send?

The rumour mill is turning at an alarming rate about next week’s budget- the grapevine is whispering that the 50p rate is about to be scrapped, and less than a week after Liberal Democrat spring Conference voted for this:

“Conference resolves that the wealthy and those with the very highest incomes should make the greatest proportionate contribution to the tax measures necessary for the reduction of the structural budget deficit and that the Additional Income Tax Rate of 50% on the top 1% of earners is needed to achieve this.”

Fairer taxes, one of our four key manifesto pledges supposedly delivered in the CSR, will mean …

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Liblink: Michael Moore MP – “Rich must pay more to help poorest in budget

Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore has been talking to the London Evening Standard about such subjects as varied as beach volleyball, the independence referendum and taxes.

On the latter, he was clear where Liberal Democrat priorities for the Budget lie:

“The simple equation is that we think the priority is to help those on the lowest incomes to get as much support as they can,” he said. “Clearly that is going to have to be paid for and we think it is fair that those who have the broadest shoulders should be the ones who contribute to that. That is

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LibLink: Mark Pack – Public Budget disagreements are far better than the secretive norm

Writing for Total Politics, The Voice’s Mark Pack welcomes public arguments over the Budget:

What would you do if you have a really important set of decisions to make? Decisions that will have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people, on the future of the country and – although of course you are too saintly to think of this – on your own future career prospects.

Locking yourself away in secret and deciding all the key decisions on your own before presenting them to the rest of the world as a fait accompli is not the route you will

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Opinion: Let’s raise tax threshold to £10,000 for all taxpayers

To keep the cost down, the increase of £1,000 in the personal allowance this year excluded higher rate taxpayers and over 65’s. Also, the higher rate threshold was reduced to bring more people and income into the 40% tax band.

The 2011 budget announced an increase in the personal allowance for under 65’s by £630 in April 2012, with the higher rate threshold unchanged. The freezing of the higher rate threshold brings more people and a greater proportion of existing earnings into the higher rate band – so-called fiscal drag.

This process seems consistent with the aim of increasing the personal allowance …

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The Independent View: Participatory democracy and the People’s Budget

It’s budget season and here’s a question ….

Is it an exaggeration to claim that there is a crisis in our system of democracy? When so many people don’t bother to vote and there are communities in the UK which no longer have any faith in the willingness of parliament and local government to address their needs and concerns, to actually represent their interests, then I think not. However, the direction of the coalition government’s policy is avowedly towards greater accountability and a stronger role for local people in decisions about local services.

The reality is that, despite the rhetoric about localism …

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  • User AvatarDave Page 22nd May - 4:52pm
    Link to Colin Rosenstiel's copy (with apologies for typo in previous comment): http://www.rosenstiel.co.uk/aldc/commpol.htm
  • User AvatarLaurence Cox 22nd May - 4:25pm
    It might be a good idea to download it; following Colin's sad demise, we don't know how long the Rosenstiel web site will last. [Note...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 22nd May - 4:08pm
    @ Katherine Pindar & the 6% was quickly followed by another 9% Can I appeal to everyone to either ignore Polls or look at them...
  • User AvatarDave Page 22nd May - 4:01pm
    "Theory and Practice of Community Politics" is pretty much my go-to book as a Lib Dem and I'd advise anybody read it (IIRC there's a...
  • User AvatarJennie 22nd May - 3:59pm
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  • User AvatarMichael 1 22nd May - 3:17pm
    @Katharine Pindar Obviously the most important thing we can all do is get down to Lewisham East (and I need to wean myself of LDV...