The Budget unveiled this week by the Coalition Government is packed full of policies that deliver Lib Dem priorities.
Here are three that I am delighted we have got through:
A further tax cut for lower and middle income earners, by increasing the Personal Allowance by a further £200 from April 2016 to £10,800 and from April 2017 to £11,000. By 2017-18, 27.2 million individuals will have benefited from increases in the personal allowance and over 3.7 million will have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether. Raising the allowance to £10,000 was a policy which the Conservatives opposed and David Cameron said would not happen, but the Lib Dems forced it through as part of the coalition and have now exceeded it.
Help for children with mental health problems by providing £1.25 billion of new funding over the next five years to treat 110,000 more children with mental health issues, and provide rapid access to treatment for new mothers.
Help for savers by creating a new savings income allowance so that 95% of individuals can now save completely tax free.
It is paid for by:
Reducing the lifetime allowance for pension contributions that benefit from tax relief from £1.25 million to £1 million – affecting only the top 4% of wealthiest individuals.
Increasing the bank levy which will raise £4.4 billion over the next five years.
- Cracking down on off-shore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance on those who are serial avoiders.
The Budget would not have looked like that if the Conservatives had been in government on their own. In the next Parliament, if they were to win a majority, they have announced they want to keep on cutting after the books are balanced. And under their plans, the working age poor will bear the brunt of further spending cuts.
Only the Lib Dems will stick to the plan to balance the books by the end of 2017/18, but we will do so in a way that is fair by asking the very wealthiest to continue to pay their fair share. This is how we ensure that the NHS has the £8bn a year that its chief says it needs to secure its future, and that the schools budget is protected (the Tories wanted to slash it by 10%).
It is because there are Liberal Democrats in Government that we have an economic recovery. And it because there are Liberal Democrats in Government that the recovery will be sustainable and that the repair job will be done fairly.