The Budget – Lib Dems react

Senior Lib Dems have attacked the Budget as insufficient to end austerity. In a post on the party website, Vince set out what Lib Dems want to see in a “People’s Budget”:

We would:

  • Secure the future of our NHS, focusing on social care and mental health with an extra £6bn per year, funded through a penny in the pound on income tax.
  • Improve living standards for 9.6m parents and children, by reversing George Osborne’s cuts to the “work allowance” under Universal Credit, costing £3bn.
  • Invest an extra £2.8bn in to the schools budget, by reversing the Government’s proposed cuts to school funding.
  • Scrap business rates – replacing them with a tax on land values known as the Commercial Landowner Levy.  The reformed system would increase incentives to invest in new equipment and renovations, and cut taxes for businesses in nine out of ten English local authorities.
  • Reverse Conservative cuts to Corporations Tax – still leaving the UK with the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G7.
  • Work with the EU to crack down on tax avoidance by the tech titans, and working to secure agreement on taxing multi-nationals’ profits.
  • Reform wealth taxation – bringing capital gains and dividend taxes into line with income taxes, removing the most generous pension tax reliefs from the highest earners, and replacing the inheritance tax system with a fairer lifetime transfer tax.

Vince has been doing the media round, telling LBC:

And here he is on the BBC:

It’s fair to say that Layla Moran was underwhelmed by the Brexit coin:

And the former teacher was not impressed with what the Chancellor had to offer schools:

For the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Leader Jane Dodds saw a missed opportunity.

The announcement of £120m for the North Wales Growth Deal and progress towards the Mid-Wales Growth Deal is welcome, but not nearly enough. Wales needs transformational North and Mid Wales Growth Deals to be signed, not just promised.

However, the announcements of an extra £550m for the Welsh Government over the next three years and more money for Universal Credit fall far, far short of what is needed. The UK Government must entirely reverse the cuts they made to Universal Credit in 2015 and give the Welsh Government a meaningful budget increase.

The hugely damaging impact Brexit will have on the UK’s public finances, costs that could reach £80 billion a year in the event of no deal – risk turning today’s Budget into a sideshow.

Welsh Liberal Democrats demanded better than this. We needed a Budget that gave people fairer taxes and better public services, and a final say on the Brexit deal. Today, we got neither.

In Scotland, Willie Rennie said Brexit was overshadowing the Budget:

With Brexit threatening living standards across the UK the Chancellor has neither ended austerity nor addressed the fundamental problems in the economy.

Everything is overshadowed by the damaging impact that Brexit will have on the UK’s public finances and the skilled workers available to run public services. These costs – which could reach £80 billion a year in the event of no deal – risk turning today’s Budget into a tinkering sideshow.

The Budget misses the opportunity to ensure wealth is fairly taxed. Meanwhile, public services face an uncertain future.

Liberal Democrats demanded better than this. We needed a Budget that gave people fairer taxes and better public services, and a final say on the Brexit deal. Today, we got none of that

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9 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Oct '18 - 10:30pm

    Esther Mcvey needs to do what the chancellor should make policy, abolish universal credit, it is an appallingly draconian nonsense, compared to tax credits, and the support of Sir Steve Webb, showed no understanding of the nasty and illiberal element in government dictat, the same as the hostile environment. Tax credits were annual in their calculations, and thus some, a few got into difficulty, this shower of a system is monthly and means a monthly cowtowing and serfdom, to the computer wizards at the dwp, not the better more specialist or able HMRC.

    The call for universal credit to be scrapped should be loud, replaced by tax credits and in future ubi.

  • @David Raw – Budgets change and adapt with economic circumstances, and with political & social priorities.

    The most recent manifesto usually contains the prevailing policies – and are usually costed to survive a parliamentary term.

    Except where conference adopts a new policy, the manifesto should be considered the best guide of policy & priority.

    Yes, that sometimes means we must update campaigns – but that is the danger of evidence-based policy (& politics).

    Though I appreciate it is harder to sell…

  • @David Raw

    Probably because in the 2002 budget Gordon Brown adopted our policy of putting 1p on income tax for public services – ok – he put it on national insurance but effectively the same.

    So it was perhaps not surprising that it was not our policy for 2005 – as – um.. it had happened. We did have the policy of having a new top rate on incomes over £100k of 50% – something that Labour didn’t adopt to about their last year.

  • Peter Watson 30th Oct '18 - 11:45am

    I agree with David Raw.
    A penny on tax for this, or maybe that, or possibly the other, is a gimmick rather than a policy, and after a while it can look inconsistent and purposeless (and as Sir Marcus Browning MP said, “We must be purposelessnessless.” )
    Surely it would be better to make the message an equally attention-grabbing policy based upon the party’s principles and a position of “that is what we want to achieve so this is what we want to do” and then explain how many pennies need to be added or taken away from tax for it.
    P.S. I think Sir Marcus Browning’s 1980 speech has a lot of relevance to Lib Dems in 2018: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2rr3m8

  • Oh come off it @Peter Watson and @David Raw the Government changes tax rates and spending EVERY year in something called the budget in case you haven’t noticed.

  • I’m afraid some of us aren’t as sophisticated as you, Michael.

    We’re rather old fashioned in believing that a political party, traditionally left of centre – though that is doubtful these days -, should have consistent principles and policies based on a clearly thought out progressive philosophy.

    I apologize for being so sceptical about penny in the pound gimmicks and not understanding the need for here today gone tomorrow expediency in a modern fast moving world. It’s one of the penalties of having a long memory. I should have realised that flexibility in policies and principles is what lies behind the success of the modern Liberal Democrats.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Nov '18 - 2:59pm

    The PM said that the government has responded to pressure, for instance by reducing the six week waiting period to five weeks. Four weeks would be better. She is defending a half measure as if it were a solution.

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