OPINION: A tax cut, citizens' control of savings and pensions... and beer tax down!

Robin_talking_to_mum_1_small.jpgAt the last election, the Liberal Democrats’ policy was to give low and middle earners a £700 tax cut by raising the point at which you start to pay income tax. This April, we will have delivered that. Nobody will pay income tax on the first £10,000 they earn. Some 82,000 people in Richmond borough and 73,500 people in Kingston are getting that tax cut, which means more money back in the pockets of local people. In addition, 5,740 people in Kingston and 3,890 people in Richmond have been taken out of paying income tax altogether.

£800 Tax Cut

Over the past few weeks and months you may have seen me and my fellow Lib Dem campaigners here in Richmond Park campaigning to increase the tax threshold even further.  The economy is recovering from what Vince Cable famously described as the financial “heart attack” of 2008, and it is up to the Liberal Democrats to make sure that everyone sees the benefits.

The campaign paid off, and it was announced in today’s budget that from April 2015, we’ll increase the personal allowance again, putting another £100 back in people’s pockets. This means the total Lib Dem tax cut will be worth £800 a year, and the tax threshold has shot up to £10,500.

At the last election, there was only one party which had this policy of cutting tax for millions of workers while taking the lowest paid out of tax altogether. Indeed, during the Leaders’ Debates on television, David Cameron had said it was not possible for the Conservatives to do this, and that it would be too expensive. But after the election, the Lib Dems in the Coalition Government pushed for it, and it has happened.

Take control of savings and pensions

When I’ve been out and about campaigning, people on the doorsteps have frequently asked me what we are doing for savers. They can see the benefit of the tax cuts but wanted to know what we could do for people who have saved their money carefully but too often felt like they did not see the benefit of the planning they had done. I hope that the measures announced today will go some way to answering that question for savers on all income brackets. We’ve reduced tax on savings for people on low incomes and increased the levels and flexibility on ISAs. From this summer, you will be able to invest £15,000 per year, tax free.

We are also giving people control over the money they have saved in their pension pots.  We are removing the need for people to be tied into buying annuities.  Instead, they will have access to, and control over, their money.  This work has been pioneered by Lib Dem Pensions Minister Steve Webb.  It’s the biggest shake up in pensions in almost 100 years.

A fairer deal for responsible pubs

The last Labour government tried to pay off some of its debts by introducing tax escalators to automatically increase the price of petrol and beer every year. This always seemed unfair to me. Indeed, last year, I brought the Lib Dem business minister Jo Swinson, who was responsible for the pub industry, to the constituency to meet publicans whose businesses had suffered from the unfair beer escalator. Later that year, the Coalition Government abolished the beer escalator and took a penny off the price off beer. And in today’s budget, the Government helped responsible drinkers further by cutting beer duty for the second year running. On top of this, we’ve frozen duty on spirits and cider, and scrapped Labour’s above inflation escalator on wine.

Thank you for making it happen

Let's be absolutely clear. The revolution in pensions wouldn’t be happening without a Liberal Democrat pensions minister in Government. The recovery wouldn’t be happening with the Liberal Democrats in Government. Investment in our infrastructure wouldn’t be happening without Liberal Democrats in Government. And one thing's for absolute sure – the tax cuts for tens of thousands of working people right across Richmond Park and North Kingston would not be happening without the Lib Dems in Government. I want to thank everyone who supported us and backed our campaigns – you made it happen.