Tag Archives: budget 2017

Autumn Budget – what our Spokespeople say

The Lib Dems have been hot off the mark with what this Autumn Budget doesn’t do.  Here are 7 failures.

And leading Lib Dems have been speaking out about what the budget really means:

Leader of the Lib Dems Vince Cable MP says

Each person in Britain is set to be £687 worse off per year compared to forecasts before the election.

And as living standards are squeezed, the Government is setting aside £3.7bn to cover the cost of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The Chancellor found more money in the Budget to plan for Brexit than he did for our struggling NHS, schools and police.

Liberal

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In full: Jo Swinson’s response to the Budget – with a cheeky intervention from Tom Brake

It was Jo Swinson who led the Lib Dem speeches in the Commons today in response to Philip Hammond’s insipid budget. Here is her speech in full. Note the cheeky intervention from Tom Brake, reminding of us of some words on the side of a bus.

The British economy today faces three key challenges. First, we have low productivity, with the associated wage stagnation that comes with it, and of course the reduced tax receipts. Secondly, we have high public sector debt. We must recognise the constraints that that places on what is possible economically, and be honest about some of the hard choices that need to be made. Thirdly, there is Brexit, which has already been described as the elephant in the room. We see the uncertainty it is creating for businesses and investment in the country, its impact on our economy, and the opportunity cost of all the energy and money being spent on preparing for it that could otherwise be directed elsewhere.

The Chancellor is a serious man. We had significant differences in coalition but in recent months he has appeared to be one of the few voices of reason in the Cabinet on Brexit. He had an unenviable task coming to the House today, given the picture of higher inflation, lower growth, lower productivity and high levels of debt. It really is bleak. The economy will be £45 billion smaller in 2021 than had been projected just in March this year, so his attempts to paint a cheerful vision of the future were rather less successful than his jokes. The truth is, as the Chancellor knows, that this Budget, the next one, the Budget after that and all future Budgets are made all the more difficult because of Brexit and the extreme approach to it that this Government are pursuing. Making it clear that an exit from the single market and the customs union is a red line for the Government—this is aided and abetted by the Labour Front-Bench team—imperils the future of the UK economy, and the Chancellor knows it.

The right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan) rightly said that there is no pot of gold at the end of the Brexit rainbow, although the more appropriate metaphor is that of a thunderstorm. We learned today that the cost of Brexit preparations is not just the £700 million already allocated but a further £3 billion, which is more than the extra money that could be found for the NHS, and that tells its own story. We need to add to that the exit bill, and who knows what that will be—£20 billion, £30 billion, £40 billion? In addition, there is the overall hit to the economy, which the OECD has suggested could be £40 billion. It is no surprise that these figures were not stuck on the side of a bus in the referendum campaign.

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Wera Hobhouse MP writes…My housing priorities for the Budget

Tomorrow, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will present his Budget to the House of Commons. He promises that housing will be the “number one priority”, but will he put the money where his mouth is?

People’s lives can no longer be dictated by a lack of affordable housing; whether to take a job, whether to start a family – many of these life-changing decisions are now overshadowed by the housing crisis. Access to housing is not a luxury, it is a human right.

To address the housing crisis, Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to include five priorities in the Budget:

Additional borrowing of over £100 billion to finance house building

If the government is serious about achieving 300,000 new homes a year, they must prioritise direct investment in house building. For far too long Britain has failed to meet the demand for new housing. Government intervention is now needed to help shift the market dynamics and spur development.

Empower local authorities to build more social housing

Almost two thirds of councils across England are struggling to find social tenancies for homeless people. To help address shortages, the government must remove the cap on council borrowing for house building and allow for suspension of the Right to Buy. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, has been quick to point the finger of blame at local planning authorities, but what steps will he take to put power back in their hands?

Help under-30s get a foot on the housing ladder

The younger generation are clearly bearing the brunt of the housing crisis. In my constituency, Bath, house prices are notoriously high and for most young people owning a house here is little more than a pipe dream. To give people the opportunity to move out of the private rented rector and put down roots, I would like to see new “Rent to Own” homes where every monthly rent payment goes towards owning a house outright.

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How a Lib Dem budget could respond to the real challenges our nation faces

As we approach the forthcoming Budget, we have the opportunity to present ourselves as the party of business which also cares about the dreadful level of inequality in the UK today.

Brexit is obviously the key issue affecting the economy and there is nothing more pro business than our stance of wanting to remain in the Single Market and the customs union. Rising inflation is hitting the low paid particularly hard. Public sector workers need and deserve a proper pay rise. It is a disgrace when one reads that nurses are having to rely on food banks.

Outside of Brexit, …

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Hammond is right to break the Conservatives’ National Insurance pledge

Philip Hammond’s decision to raise National Insurance contributions (NICs) for self-employed people has been the most eye-catching and controversial aspect of the budget. No less captivating for a Liberal Democrat has been our party’s response. Lib Dems are understandably keen to hammer the Tories for breaking a manifesto promise. And MPs have been quick to paint themselves as the defenders of entrepreneurs and small business people (though patronising them as “White van man” is probably unwise).

For all that, the Chancellor’s policy is right – though it goes only a tiny way to treating all workers equally and fairly. Let us look first at the tax break and then deal with some objections.

  • Employees pay class 1 national insurance at 12% on earnings from £155 to £877 a week and 2% on earnings above that. The weekly sums are supposed to equate to £8,060 and £43,000 a year.
  • Employers also pay 13.8% on top of what the employee pays. Despite the myth that “employers pay” and that this comes out of profits, this is a tax on employed people’s wages. This is the biggest part of the injustice in the tax system and the chancellor has not touched it.
  • Self-employed people pay class 4 national insurance at 9% on profits between £8,060 and £43,000 and 2% on profits above £43,000.
  • Self-employed people also pay class 2 national insurance at a flat rate of £2.80 a week if they earn over £5,965 a year. So silly is this policy that George Osborne killed it (from April 2018). Interestingly, as part of that it was announced that class 4 national insurance would be increased to compensate, so there is some cover for Mr Hammond’s move.
  • Those incorporated as companies are able to take their income as dividends rather than salary, and so avoid NICs altogether.
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Observations of an Expat: The Brexit elephant

 

There was a massive elephant in the British House of Commons on Wednesday. It was rampaging back and forth across the chamber, overturning tables, loudly trumpeting and waving his trunk from side to side.

Its name was Brexit.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond did his level best to ignore the distinctly unfriendly pachyderm. In fact, he did not utter the B-word once during his 45-minute budget speech.  But the Brexit elephant was as plain to see as the chancellor’s traditional red box.

Growth forecasts for 2017, said the Chancellor, have been upgraded from 1.4 to 2 percent.  Employment forecasts are rosy, and predictions for government borrowing are down, down, down. The pound remains at rock bottom levels against the dollar, but the economy has not fallen off the cliff as some pro-European campaigners said it would do on the 24th of June.

But then Britain is still in the phoney war period. Article 50 has not been invoked. Details of the government’s negotiating position remain shrouded in mystery. Details of the European Commission negotiating position are a total enigma.

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Lib Dems react to Budget

Liberal Democrats have been reacting to Philip Hammond’s budget which seems to do not much more than stoke the balance in favour of massive corporates as opposed to small business and give extra money to Tory hobby-horses like free schools,

In terms of the massive issues facing the country in health and social care and housing, there’s not much.

Liberal Democrats have been reacting to the budget. Susan Kramer highlighted how the Tories had broken their manifesto promise by raising national insurance for the self-employed:

This is a tax on builders, taxi drivers and window cleaners, some of Britain’s hardest working people. This hits the gig economy where people are already insecure and facing rising prices and job uncertainty. And on International Women’s Day it will hit over one and a half million women.

Companies will continue to save money by using workers without giving them the security and benefits of staff jobs. Meanwhile, these workers will have to pay more. This is patently as unfair as it is a tax on entrepreneurship and hard work.

Tim Farron also slammed the rise:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoland 18th Feb - 12:15am
    No Rob Parker, the referendum didn't mandate anything, however, various influential fringe elements of the Conservative party, being worried about UKIP and wanting to appear...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 9:22pm
    "middle-class Remainers of the north of England to be given more attention?" Why only middle class remainers? I live in the North too and, from...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 9:06pm
    As always it comes down to wanting more money for the NHS and social services. We are always asked "But where is the money going...
  • User AvatarRob Parker 17th Feb - 8:56pm
    "May’s speech shows that staying in the EU is best for Britain’s security" Right, but the referendum result, which politically speaking May HAS to implement,...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 17th Feb - 8:40pm
    @JoeB, To be fair to Ricardo, he did float the idea of Ricardian equivalence, he later backed away from the idea. His entry in Wiki...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Feb - 8:27pm
    Can I put in a plea for the middle-class Remainers of the north of England to be given more attention? It is reported that the...