Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has outlined his party’s ‘alternative Budget’ plans with ‘fairness’ and ‘principles’ – but no direct challenge to the chancellor’s figures – at the heart of his proposals.
Kennedy said that his party had a reputation for being ‘straightforward’ on tax, and that this would ‘not change’.
‘The differences between the parties on tax take are minimal’, he said. ‘The real issue is one of principle and of priority.’
At the centre of the Lib Dems’ commitment to ‘fairness’ is its pledge to replace council tax with a local income tax. The party said that the poorest fifth of the population currently pay a higher percentage of their gross income in tax (37.9%) than the wealthiest fifth (35.1%).
Vince Cable, the party’s Treasury spokesman, promised not to introduce windfall taxes, and help small businesses by raising the rates threshold. This was in line with Kennedy who added that he would ‘not shy away’ from talking about redistribution (of wealth), reinforcing the Lib Dem’s commitment to a top tax rate of 50p in the pound.
Cable also outlined the party’s intention of raising the threshold on stamp duty on house purchases from £60,000 to £100,000 as well as scrapping tuition and top-up fees in universities.
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