Tag Archives: tax threshold

Why it’s worth being a member of the Liberal Democrats

The New Statesman is doing a series of features on membership of political parties. They feature Lizzie Jewkes, who was responsible for the current incarnation of the policy of raising the tax threshold. “Meet the ordinary political party member who will cost the Treasury £4 billion a year” says the headline:

She was in the auditorium during Nick Clegg’s first conference as leader of the party, in 2008. He mooted that £20bn of savings could be spent on reducing the rate of standard income tax.

“We all duly voted for this,” Jewkes explains. But discussing Clegg’s idea with a friend and fellow party member, Jewkes concluded they should be using those savings to raise the income tax threshold instead.

“It’s like a lightbulb went on,” she says.

Later that year, when Vince Cable – then the Lib Dems’ Treasury spokesperson – visited a regional conference Jewkes was also attending, she ran her idea past him. “He came as a keynote speaker and I just nobbled him when he was having a cup of tea,” she laughs.

“I said to him, ‘is there any reason we don’t do this?’ and he said to me, ‘ah, that’s my ultimate dream.’”

Jewkes wrote her idea up as a policy motion and submitted it to party conference in the summer of 2009. The party didn’t even wait until that conference to announce it.

“The next thing I know, Nick is on the news saying, ‘we have a new tax policy – first £10,000 tax-free’ And I thought ‘hold on a minute…’” says Jewkes of first discovering her policy had been taken on.

“I was just completely astonished,” she recalls. Yet she still never imagined it would become government policy.

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A bit of a howler in the Tories’ press lines…

Sky News have managed to get hold of a Tory briefing document which gives its MPs and media spokespeople the messages they want to emerge from their Conference. It was drawn up in the wake of the Reckless defection and Newmark resignation. Things drawn up in haste can often cause more problems than they resolve and this is no exception. Take, for example, the bit where they say that they are not stating red lines in coalition negotiations before, er, stating one:

Q. Is policy X a red line for future coalition negotiations?

A. We’re not going to answer hypothetical questions about red lines for coalition negotiations. Our aim is to win an outright majority at the next election so we secure a better future for Britain and that’s what we’re working towards.

Q. But what about your Europe referendum? You’ve said that’s a red line?

A. As our commitment to have a referendum would have to be fulfilled by a specific date after the next election, we think it is right in this one instance to confirm it’s a red line.

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Nick Clegg: “I have to drag the Tories kicking and screaming” to raise tax threshold”

Nick Clegg took questions from journalists after yesterday’s speech on security and privacy. One of them was on tax, after the reports in the press over the weekend that the Tories were cheekily trying to claim credit for lowering the tax threshold.

Let’s hope that some nice cartoonist has some fun with his comment that he’s had to drag the Tories kicking and screaming into every set of talks on lowering taxes for those on low and middle incomes.

He also said that his recent plea for an extra £500 workers’ bonus had received a frosty reception from the Conservatives.

He said:

And it

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Opinion: More money in your pocket from April

MoneyAt the last election, Liberal Democrats up and down the country campaigned hard to cut taxes for working people and put money back in your pocket. It was our top priority – taken from the front page of our manifesto – to increase the amount you can earn before paying tax to £10,000. This has made a real difference to taxpayers up and down the country.

Since 2003, middle wages have failed to rise with growth. When we came into government, someone working full time on the minimum wage would lose …

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Opinion: Do I want a £100 tax cut? Not now, Nick

This morning Nick Clegg has embarked on a major new campaign to press the Coalition Government to increase the income tax threshold by a further £500, taking the first £10,500 of income out of tax. With half an eye to next month’s Autumn Statement, he wants to go beyond the Coalition Agreement.

However, there are problems with this.

The first is the obvious one: it has to be paid for. How will that happen?  Well, with the Conservatives having rejected any further tax on the wealthy and other changes to taxation, it would have to come from additional spending cuts. It is …

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Nick Clegg on Andrew Marr: Tories want tax cuts for wealthy. I want to put £100 back in people’s pockets.

Nick Clegg was on Andrew Marr today talking about his wish to see the Government raise the tax threshold by a further £500, putting £100 back in people’s comments. If you agree, by the way, sign the petition here.

Without any hint of rancour or peevishness, he put a lot of effort into demonstrating that the Tories favoured tax cuts for the rich while the Liberal Democrats favour tax cuts for ordinary people. He listed the Tory plans – cutting inheritance tax, cutting the top rate of tax, marriage tax breaks, that the Liberal Democrats opposed.

Again he looked relaxed and confident, and also a bit like he’d been messing with the Strictly Come Dancing spray tan machine. What’s going on there, I wonder?

I was much happier with his language on the community tensions in Sheffield as well – it was much more consensual and his point on the need for dialogue was not lost this time. He also was absolutely clear that he wasn’t going to see any group of people villified.

And, finally, on the age of consent controversy, he said he wouldn’t favour a reduction to 15 but talked about the need for much better sex education.

Why, though, do journalists never ask the questions you want them to? An extra £100 to basic rate tax payers is fine but I’m not sure I want it to be the pinnacle of our ambition. It makes the extra £2000 we’d promise for the next Parliament look uninspiring – although you have to see that in the context of more help with childcare, more nursery places for the most deprived two year olds and the like. What worries me, though, is that there are single income households where less than £10,000 is coming in. They won’t get that extra £100 and they are really struggling. What can be done to help them?

Here’s a storify thingy of mine and others’ tweets.

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Nick Clegg calls for “workers’ bonus” to put £100 back in people’s pockets

Clegg SpeechThere have been rumours for a while about Nick Clegg being very keen to find a way to help those struggling with rising living costs. Today he announces that he’s pushing for the Coalition to raise the tax threshold to £10,500 in April 2015, exceeding the manifesto promise that Liberal Democrats made in 2010.

From Scotland on Sunday:

Sources close to Clegg said last night that the increase in the personal allowance – which has gone up from £6,475 in 2010 to £10,000 by 2014-15 – was the Lib Dems’ “signature tune” in the coalition pact. “It was always our intention to get to the £10,000 and a £700 tax cut, but we believe the economic recovery allows us to put even more money back in people’s pockets. Because the economy is recovering, we want to reward people with a workers’ bonus,” the source said.

The extra tax cut would have to be paid for from current spending limits, the source added. “We know that we are on to a vote winner here. 
The Tories once said this ­policy wasn’t affordable, but now they like to claim credit for it.”.

Clegg is expected to argue that the increase is a “reward” for people who have accepted below-average pay rises or flexible working hours to stay in work during the hard times.

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Clegg on Murnaghan: Osborne sat there and talked about “your tax threshold policy”

Nick Clegg LBCNick Clegg appeared on Sky News’ Murnaghan programme and took questions on a wide range of subjects. First up was the issue at the top of the headlines today – schools.

He said that his speech didn’t represent a great coalition crisis, that he was purely stating what he had always said and that it’s simply a difference of opinion between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. While he remains a great supporter of freedom and diversity within the schools system, there are three things that he wants to ensure, and that he says the majority of parents expect wherever children receive their state funded education. They are:

  • that the National Curriculum will be taught
  • that teachers will be properly qualified
  • that the food on offer will be of decent quality

He said that the Tories didn’t favour basic standards about those things, but he did and had always made that case in government. He was keen to emphasise that nothing he was saying was new.

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Danny Alexander MP writes… This is the Liberal Democrats’ policy and everybody knows it

The Conservatives may claim to be the party of hardworking people. But the same cannot be said for their policy wonks. According to today’s Financial Times, the Conservatives are apparently considering a proposal for their manifesto to increase the personal allowance to £12,500. An almost identical idea to our own policy of raising the personal allowance to the minimum wage that we first passed in our spring conference of 2012 and reaffirmed just one month ago at our Autumn conference in Glasgow. Once again, it is the Liberal Democrats who are shaping the future of the British tax system.

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How would you use £600? Last night’s Liberal Democrat Party Election Broadcast

Last night’s Party Election Broadcast by the Liberal Democrats concentrated on the significant raising of the tax threshold that comes in this month. The “stronger economy in a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life” mantra was repeated heavily. The work of local Liberal Democrat councillors in creating jobs and protecting services was also mentioned.

The Broadcast had earlier been trailed to members in an email from Elizabeth Jewkes, the party member who had proposed its inclusion in the manifesto. She said:

Just a few years ago, in 2009, I attended our conference in Bournemouth as an ordinary party member

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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 …

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Why it’s worth being a member of the Liberal Democrats

Today, the Liberal Democrats fulfilled their key election pledge of raising the income tax threshold to £10,000.

And they’ve produced a nifty little picture to tell us about it. And we should rightly be proud.

Tax Threshold infographic

 

 

This doesn’t tell the whole story, though. How did this get in to our manifesto in the first place? Did it fall out of the Orange Book and hit David Laws on the head? I have to say there’s no clue in either of the emails I’ve seen from Danny Alexander today.

Actually no. It came from …

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