Tag Archives: taxation

1 November 2018 – today’s press releases

We’ve got a veritable torrent of press releases today, starting with an example of the Party being rather more radical than Labour…

Cable: £1.3 billion for higher-rate payers should be used to reverse welfare cuts

The Liberal Democrats have announced they will be voting against the Government’s plans to raise the higher-rate tax threshold to £50,000.

The policy – announced in Monday’s budget – will cost an estimated £1.3 billion pounds next year, money which could instead be used to reverse cuts to Universal Credit or end the benefits freeze a year early.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince …

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28 October 2018 – today’s press releases

Government infrastructure plans lack future proofing

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson has urged the Government to invest in “rail, low emission buses and electric charging points” as reports indicate the Government is set to announce new investment for roads in the Budget.

Jenny Randerson said:

While it is welcome news that the Government will finally set aside much needed investment for our roads, their infrastructure plan lacks any future proofing.

With climate change an ever greater threat, Liberal Democrats demand better. Ministers should be focusing on a model shift away from car use to public transport. That means investment in rail, low

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15 October 2018 – today’s press releases…

It’s been suggested quite often in these pages that the media coverage we get as a Party isn’t that great. And, often, it is suggested that we need to crank up our media operation. So, for one week, I’ll be publishing all of the press releases that Liberal Democrat Voice receives from HQ, honouring the embargos as they are advised.

Today’s press releases are;

Welsh Lib Dems Urge Health Boards to Monitor Loneliness

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged health boards across Wales to monitor the scale of loneliness in their areas and treat loneliness and isolation as a health issue following an …

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Why we need a residential Landowners’ Levy

There are two motions for debate at Brighton that I particularly welcome, as founder member of ALTER and campaigner on Land Value Taxation (LVT) for 20+ years. There’s the one on Commercial Landowners Levy (F26), which is based on an excellent paper by four esteemed experts in our Party. Then there’s F34 “Promoting a Fairer Distribution of Wealth”.

Having read both motions, I was unhappy that F34 failed to match the combination of thorough research and analysis in F26 and also falls short on radical policy proposals to address the main cause of wealth inequality: the so-called Land Question. As a …

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Demand Better: Liberal Democrat Priorities for a Better Britain

For as long as I’ve been active in politics people have complained they don’t know what we stand for. We may have a reasonable profile for our position on Brexit, but the fact that we’re only the fourth party in terms of MPs makes it even more difficult than usual to gain media attention.

On top of that, the party has more than doubled in size over the last two and a half years, so we have a large number of new or newish members who aren’t as familiar as many of us with the details of party policy or our key priorities for action.

So over the last six months the Federal Policy Committee has worked to produce the paper Demand Better: Liberal Democrat Priorities for a Better Britain, which is available here and will be debated at our autumn conference at Brighton.

We’ve written the paper in close cooperation with the party’s campaigns and communications committees and staff, and we’re using the party’s new slogan as the paper’s title. Demand Better summarises the Liberal Democrat approach to politics in 2018 and highlights our key policy priorities. Should a general election take place in the next year or so, it will provide the core of the Liberal Democrat election manifesto.

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We need to talk about tax

The developing consensus that the NHS needs more money, and that there is nowhere else for that to come from except increased taxation, shows that there are some things that voters may well be willing to pay more for in order to get better-quality service.  But we need, also, to recognise how strong the anti-tax lobby in this country is, and how difficult it will be to shift popular perceptions that others should pay more, but we deserve lower taxes ourselves.

Liberal Democrats beat themselves up about their collaboration in the coalition’s austerity programme.  Our mistake was not to mount a stronger argument in 2010 for funding a higher proportion of the adjustment through tax increases rather than cuts.

But we ought to recognise that all three parties have collaborated in the myth that decent public services could be provided without higher and more progressive taxation.

Margaret Thatcher set the tone, financing public services partly through the windfall revenues from North Sea oil – instead of establishing a sovereign wealth fund as the Norwegians did –  and partly through selling off state assets to fund current spending (‘selling off the family silver’, as the elderly Harold Macmillan had remarked).

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Any Liberal government worth its salt would repeal the sugar tax

As the so-called ‘sugar tax’ comes into being, it’s worth remembering just how poor a piece of policy it is. The sugar tax is regressive, it is ineffective and it is illiberal; any Liberal government worth its salt would repeal it.

The pre-amble to the constitution of the Liberal Democrats commits the party to both the fundamental value of liberty and ensuring that no-one is enslaved by poverty, the sugar tax fails on both these counts.

First and foremost the sugar tax is illiberal. If we accept that philosopher John Stuart Mill’s ‘harm principle’, the idea that power should only be exerted over an individual against their will if it is to prevent harm to others, is a cornerstone of liberal thought, then quite clearly the sugar tax fails this test. The consumption of sugary drinks poses no threat of harm to others, and as such the state has no business attempting to reduce their use. Whilst you could argue that the ‘harm’ to others associated with the consumption of sugary drinks is the additional strain this may put on the health service, if you were to follow this argument through to its logical conclusion you would advocate taxing gym memberships, as injury sustained through excessive exercise would too place a strain on the NHS. Clearly, this is nonsensical.

To add to this, not only is the sugar tax illiberal but it is also regressive, as it will disproportionally affect those on the lowest incomes. This is both because they are more likely to consume non-diet soft drinks than wealthier individuals, and also because tax rises such as this will take up a larger proportion of the poorest individual’s budgets. Evidence suggests that for individuals with a high sugar diet, taxes do little to reduce their consumption, and as such the sugar tax is all cost and no benefit to those whose disposable income is already low. Far from lifting people out of poverty, the sugar tax further condemns them to it.

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Expert health panel calls for ringfenced health and care tax to replace National Insurance

A new tax earmarked solely for the NHS and social care is among the recommendations from a panel of 10 experts in a report on healthcare funding in England commissioned by the Liberal Democrats. This heavyweight report, Health and Social Care: Delivering a Secure Funding Future, will form the blueprint of the Liberal Democrats’ ongoing healthcare policy.

The panel, which includes former chief executives of NHS England, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Patients Association, concluded that the NHS in England needs a real terms funding increase of £4bn in 2018-19 and further real terms increases of £2.5bn in …

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Paradise Papers: perhaps tax ought to be more taxing?…

Older readers may remember me, the first face of the Inland Revenue, as voiced by Sir Alec Guinness. I may be a distant memory, but I never left my desk.

The news in the lead up to this week’s Budget has been coloured by the Paradise Papers, as noted by David Becket in the comments sections when they first hit the headlines, who wondered why they haven’t been covered here. Well, in truth, tax policy is quite dull, and the issue of taxation of overseas holdings is rather more complex than is thought.

Here …

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Politicians get lost in search for fabled Magic Money Tree

Vince Cable has written for City AM about governemnt’s fiscal responsibilities and how it has become less important to be financially credible.

Yet since the 2015 election, belief in financial magic appears to have grown. Brexit’s biggest appeal was a treasure trove to finance the NHS. Labour has caught the new mood.

A few weeks ago, shadow chancellor John McDonnell added £200bn of PFI contracts to a lengthening list of Labour financial commitments, including the nationalisation of rail franchises, energy and water utilities, free universities, and much else.

The IFS was scathing at the June election about Labour’s numbers, but it did little political harm, perhaps because the Conservatives had no numbers at all, and have since oscillated between preaching austerity and signing cheques when pressed. My own party, the Liberal Democrats, received an IFS Gold Medal in 2017, but it did us little good.

He then goes on to talk about a recent discussion with economics students who thought that austerity had had its day. Vince recounts the main points that he made with his response:

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Review of “The Joy of Tax” by Richard Murphy

Last year Richard Murphy, well-known through his involvement with the Tax Justice Network, expanded his ideas into a paperback book The Joy of Tax. His association with Jeremy Corbyn may cause Liberal Democrats to reject his ideas, but I argue here that even if we reject his solutions, which include both Basic Income and local Land Value Tax, we should take seriously his criticism of the existing tax system and his analysis of the purpose of taxation.

After a short historical introduction in which he develops the idea of tax as being the band that holds together the Social Contract between a people and their government, he examines how the Government raises its revenue. We are all familiar with the three big taxes: income tax, National Insurance and VAT, which together raise just under 65% of all taxation, national and local, but Murphy also looks at the large number of taxes that raise the remainder and the justification for them.

He covers six reasons why Governments should tax:

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Time to start building for Britain

I am currently travelling for a year and am currently visiting India. This vibrant and growing economy has lessons for the UK. Everywhere you go there is building going on. New houses, new factories, new shopping complexes. In addition there is an ongoing repair programme for roads, public buildings, ancient monuments, temples. Sure, India still has slums, some schemes take an age to complete, but the thrust of the country is building for the future.

The government – at national, state and local level – is funding a lot of this work, in conjunction with the private sector and heritage and other charities and voluntary groups. What is clear is that government in all its forms has no problem with taxing its citizens and spending a chunk of the money on improving infrastructure, growing the economy, providing jobs and encouraging tourism. Compare that with Brexit UK. Governments of all hues have spent decades convincing us that tax is wicked and must under no circumstances be increased – especially for the rich – and that cuts in public services are vital for the health of the economy. As a result the building trade is on its knees, there is a chronic shortage of houses, public services are being trashed, the NHS is in crisis and vital infrastructure repairs and improvements are being put off into the distant future.

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Lib Dems to consider NHS tax #ldconf

The Liberal Democrats are to set up an independent expert panel to consider the case for a dedicated NHS and care tax,  Norman Lamb will announce in his Conference speech at Brighton later today.

Members of the ‘New Beveridge Group’ will include Dr. Clare Gerada, former President of the Royal College of GPs, Prof. Dinesh Bhugra, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and current President of the World Psychiatric Association, Peter Carter, the former General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, and the chief executive of the Patients’ Association, Katherine Murphy.

It will report its recommendations to the party in six months’ time, presumably in time for Spring Conference.

Speaking to party members in Brighton, Lib Dem Health spokesperson Norman Lamb will say:

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Katy Gordon compares Lib Dem & SNP tax plans: “SNP fiddle at margins, Lib Dems choose to make Scotland great again”

Katy GordonYesterday the SNP revealed their tax plans for Scotland. They were, to be honest, the plans of a Government that’s cosy with being the Establishment, not of an insurgent movement wanting to bring change.  You’d have thought, after all their moaning about the 50p rat being reduced to 45p, that they’d have put it straight back up but, no. Having said that you could argue that we could have done the same thing given that we were forced into it by the Tories in coalition in exchange for the raising of the tax threshold for the lowest paid. However, in our defence, our Scottish plans for a zero rate for the lowest paid will involve tax rises for the richest.

The SNP plans not to raise the higher rate tax threshold – but that’s it. Other than that they will keep tax rates where they are. They wanted powers but when they are given them, they choose to tinker around the edges rather than use them for good. The cuts they have lumped on local authorities make their assertion that they are anti austerity sound hollow.

Over at the Scottish Lib Dems’ website, Katy Gordon, our lead candidate for the West of Scotland,  has given her analysis of the SNP’s proposals compared to ours. 

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Nick Clegg on the “utter nonsense” of Tory spending plans

In another strong demonstration of the differences between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, Nick Clegg went on the Today programme yesterday to talk about deficit reduction and fiscal policy in the next parliament. While the Tories want to reduce the deficit by cutting spending alone, Liberal Democrats want to raise taxes on the wealthy.

From the Guardian:

Nick Clegg insisted taxes would have to rise in the next parliament. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “What the Conservatives are saying is a complete and utter nonsense. There is not a single developed economy anywhere in the world that has balanced the books and only done so on the backs of the working-age poor, which Osborne has now confirmed several times he wants to do.”

As he set out his party’s plans to remove tax breaks for wealthy pensioners, Clegg also accepted that the public finances were not improving as fast as planned due to tax receipts failing to match forecasts, but he refused to say if this would require the coalition to put back its deficit plans.

He said: “If tax receipts are not as buoyant as predicted then of course that has an effect. Time will tell if that is a semi-permanent effect or a temporary blip, but it means it comes down a little less than predicted.”

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Opinion: No taxation without explanation – tax summaries are welcome but flawed

budget breakdownStarting yesterday, and over the next month or so, ‘tax summaries’ will be delivered to 24 million taxpayers, detailing how much income tax and National Insurance they paid in 2013-14, and where that money went. You can see examples here.

As Nick Clegg said in 2012, this will deliver “greater transparency accountability in government … empowering citizens” with information on what they pay in, and how their taxes are spent. It sounds rather like the ‘Annual Tax Contract’ policy from the party’s manifesto in 1997 and 2001:

No taxation without explanation: Central Government should inform taxpayers of the ways in which their money is raised and spent, just as local councils now do.

You can draw your own conclusions from the pie chart on the right, but it looks like these annual tax summaries will be important.

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NHS under pressure across whole UK – how do we fund the health service we need?

StethoscopeA clinical commissioning group in South Warwickshire was heavily criticised last week for suggesting that it might charge patients for use of mobility aids like crutches, walking sticks and neck braces.  A rather hyperbolic Guardian column screamed that this was the “first painful step towards the dismantling of the NHS” which seems a bit strange given that they’ve been telling us for the past two years that the NHS had been all but privatised anyway.

The furore over this idea made me think, though. While you don’t and never should …

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Opinion: The Generation Gap

Day 46: Generation GapThe generation gap used to refer to the differing attitudes of young people and their elders to sex, drugs and rock and roll. For young people today, it has come to mean what the American author of the article linked below describes as “the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.”

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone magazine published an article under the title Five economic reforms millennials should be fighting for.

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Danny Alexander: Labour will deliver less for working people than Liberal Democrats

So, Ed Balls has been laying out his vision for the economy. A surplus by 2020? Really? From Labour? They seem to be trying to make out that they can be trusted with our purse strings after all, despite all the evidence to the contrary that we’ve seen any time they’ve been in government in my lifetime.

The measure getting all the headlines is the fact that they are going to restore the 50p tax rate that was in place for all of a month of their 13 year term in office. It’s worth remembering that their top rate of …

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