Sunday, 9 February 2014

Liberal Democrats: 45p Top Rate, Strikes, and General Economy

45p top rate

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Danny Alexander said: “The top rate of tax has been an issue of late. Labour wants to take it back up to 50p, I think the 45p rate is the right place to be. I wouldn’t go to cutting below 45p – that would happen over my dead body. It’s better to say we are going to stick where we are.”

Strikes

We deplore this damaging and unnecessary strike which will hit London commuters and the London economy. But just because Boris Johnson has issues managing Bob Crow in London, it doesn’t mean we need half-baked legislation of the kind the Conservatives want which will affect the whole country.

As with any policy, if there is evidence of a problem we are happy to look at it but the evidence is clear: we have the best industrial relations for over three decades with historically low strikes. Good policy should be based on sound evidence, not ideology.

General economy

This recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats. Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain. The Coalition's economic plan is the rock on which our recovery is being built.

Three and a half years in, and the Coalition’s priority is still the same: fixing the economy and cleaning up the mess Labour left behind.

That task has never been simply about balancing the books. We inherited an economy that had become profoundly unbalanced. Growth was driven almost entirely by one industry: financial services. Almost exclusively from one city: London. And behind the boom was a nation becoming less productive and less competitive. For years governments had simply papered over the cracks.

The Liberal Democrats didn’t come into Government just to make cuts. For us, this has always been about setting in motion a much more fundamental overhaul of our economy so that Britain never finds itself here again. That is not something you can do overnight. There are no quick fixes. No shortcuts to prosperity. It is a slow and steady process.

We’re cutting your income tax bill by £700. Council tax freezes mean that, on average, households are £1,000 better off over the course of this Parliament. Because we’ve frozen fuel duty, you’re £7 better off every time you fill up your tank. Families with young children will save £1,200 per child through our tax free childcare. And, on top of that, if they’re in infants school, you’ll save over £400 per child, per year because we’re going to provide free school meals.

We’re helping people with the cost of living in other ways. On 2 December, we announced proposals to cut £50 a year from energy bills, while maintaining our support for vulnerable households and green commitments. Council tax freezes are, on average, saving households in England £1,000 over the course of this parliament. Our fuel duty freeze is saving people £7 every time they fill up their tank. Families with young children will save £1,200 per child through our tax free childcare and will also benefit from our free school meals policy for infants – worth more than £400 per year per child.

We have created more than a million new jobs since 2010 and now we’re working to create a million more. There are more people in work today than at any other time in our history.

We’re helping young people find work. Since 2010 we’ve helped create more than 1.5m new apprenticeships, at twice the rate that Labour managed. Nick Clegg’s £1bn Youth Contract is supporting work experience, wage incentives and apprenticeships.

We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We have had three successive quarters of GDP growth. Under Labour, the economy shrunk for five consecutive quarters. Other economic indicators are also positive:

  • Thanks to our changes, disposable income was higher last year than in any of the 13 years under Labour. And the amount of money people had in their pockets adjusted for inflation grew by 1.6% in 2012.
  • By fixing the economy we have helped keep interest rates at historic lows, saving £2,000 per year for a family taking out a standard fixed-rate mortgage of £100,000.
  • GDP grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2013, following growth of 0.8% in Q3.