Lib Dems push for income tax cuts in future coalition talks

Danny Alexander says raising the threshold is "a top priority"

Related Stories

Raising the personal income tax allowance to £12,500 will be a key Lib Dem demand in any coalition talks after the 2015 election, the party has said.

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said raising the threshold for the amount people can earn before paying income tax was a "top priority".

He said the economic recovery would not have happened without the Lib Dems.

Meeting for their spring conference, Lib Dems also backed extending the time before EU migrants can claim benefits.

The new policy would mean EU migrants to the UK could claim benefits only after six months.

Start Quote

Every day in the run-up to the Budget, Nick and I are drawing strength from our party's growing campaign to press for a further rise in the allowance to £10,500.”

End Quote Danny Alexander

The plan would also make it easier for foreign students to stay and work in the UK and for immigrants to bring their families to live with them.

'Our own values'

Mr Alexander told the conference that another rise of at least £500 in the personal income tax allowance - amounting to a tax cut of £100 a year - would be earmarked for the first Budget or Autumn Statement after the election.

Party leader Nick Clegg has already called for a further £500 increase to be included in this month's Budget.

The income tax allowance stood at £6,475 when the coalition government was formed in May 2010. Since 2010, it has risen to £10,000.

Mr Alexander confirmed that increasing the threshold again would be written into the party's manifesto for the 2015 general election.

"We will fight the next election with our own ideas, our own policies, our own values - no-one else's," he said during his conference speech on Saturday.

"And I can tell you that a top priority in any negotiation will be our aspiration to raise the personal allowance dramatically again in the next Parliament."

Danny Alexander speaks during the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference Mr Alexander told the Lib Dem conference that "Britain is on its way back"

He also renewed his party's criticism of its coalition partners, the Conservatives.

"In 2010 the Conservatives wanted inheritance tax cuts for millionaires; we fought for and delivered tax cuts for working people," Mr Alexander said.

"In 2011 the Conservatives wanted 'shares for rights'; we fought for and delivered tax cuts for working people.

"In 2013 the Conservatives wanted a tax break for married couples that excluded millions of families; we fought for and delivered - you guessed it - more tax cuts for working people.

"Now, belatedly, some Tories are lamely trying to claim credit.

"Don't get me wrong, it must be hard to be a Tory in a Treasury delivering so much Lib Dem policy, so it's no surprise if some of them have gone native."

Vince Cable gives a speech during the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference Business Secretary Vince Cable said his party had an "acute responsibility" to address the issue of immigration

Mr Alexander said the "right conditions for this [economic] recovery would not have happened without the Liberal Democrats in government".

"Every job that's been created, every apprenticeship opened up, every tax cut delivered for working people has our Liberal Democrat DNA running through it," he said.

Hung parliament

In a further reference to the Conservatives, Mr Alexander said the government could not rely on "cutting public spending and targeting welfare to finish the job" of improving the economy.

Later, he told the BBC how the next government "has to be a coalition" if the 2015 general election results in a hung parliament.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, is reportedly considering fighting the next election on a promise not to form a new coalition government even if his party falls short of a majority.

However, Mr Alexander said: "It has to be a coalition because I think that in a hung parliament you need to have a government that's strong and stable and able to take decisions.

"That's what this country has benefited from over the past four years."

Mr Alexander said the Lib Dems would look to see which party had the strongest mandate in the event of a hung parliament.

The treasury chief secretary is due to lead his party's negotiating team in any talks after the election about forming a new coalition.

Toxic

Asked about the Lib Dems' tax proposals, Labour's shadow chief secretary, Chris Leslie, said they should "come clean" about how they would pay for it.

"Will they just hit families and pensioners by raising VAT again?" he said.

Elsewhere at the spring conference, Business Secretary Vince Cable backed Lib Dem calls to make it easier for foreign students to stay and work in the UK and for immigrants to bring their families to live with them.

Mr Cable said his party had an "acute responsibility" to address issues surrounding immigration.

During a debate on immigration policy, he said: "It was never more necessary to have a party that was willing to stand up on this toxic issue and address it from the point of view of realism and evidence and fact."

His comments come days after Conservative Immigration Minister James Brokenshire spoke out against Mr Cable's comments that rising immigration was "good news" for the country.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More UK Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    11:09: Ed Balls on living standards BBC News Channel

    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls tells the BBC News Channel living standards have been stagnant for too long. "When Conservatives say they have fixed the economy, most people say who for, not for me... if that's Tory success, just think of what failure would look like."

     
  2.  
    11:00: Election pledges
    Ed Miliband David Cameron

    A quick recap - with 100 days to the election, Labour and the Conservative Party are setting out their stalls. Ed Miliband has given a speech on Labour's "10-year plan" for the NHS - which pledges new safety checks to identify people at risk of hospitalisation and recruiting 5,000 new home care - in Manchester. Meanwhile, David Cameron has been outlining plans to cut the benefits cap - from £26,000 to £23,000 - to pay for more apprenticeships.

     
  3.  
    10:50: GDP figures
    Graph showing components of UK GDP

    This is from the BBC's Business Live team: It's worth noting a couple of things from today's GDP figures. The first is that the official estimate is below the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility at the time of the Autumn Statement that economic growth would be 3% in 2014. The second is that while, as the ONS says, there has been widespread growth across all major components of GDP since the start of 2013, the service industries remain the largest and steadiest contributor to economic growth. In fairness to the OBR, it did originally forecast GDP growth for 2014 of 2.7% back in March last year.

     
  4.  
    10:49: Mental health

    Mr Miliband says there is still a stigma with mental health, and the nation has got to find a way to talk about it.

     
  5.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Ed Miliband: "Because of his broken promises, what tuition fees are for Nick Clegg, the NHS has become for David Cameron."

     
  6.  
    10:40: Dementia care

    Ed Miliband is now taking questions from the audience in Trafford, including on his plans for dementia care and the role of pharmacies in the NHS.

     
  7.  
    10:39: Key principle

    A bit more on that speech by Ed Miliband - he said the "key principle" to making the NHS sustainable and successful is investment, so the NHS has "time to care".

     
  8.  
    10:33: Trust

    David Cameron can't be trusted with our NHS, Mr Miliband suggests.

     
  9.  
    10:32: 'Wrong values'

    The Labour leader says David Cameron puts the wrong values at the heart of the NHS and the future of the health service is at stake in the general election. "Let's go out and fight for it." he says.

     
  10.  
    10:30: 'No time to care'

    Mr Miliband says people in their 70s and even 80s are currently waiting hours for ambulances to arrive, getting stuck outside hospital in ambulances because A&E is full, and lying on trolleys in corridors. It is an NHS "without enough time to care", he says.

     
  11.  
    10:29: Two futures of NHS
    Ed Miliband Ed Miliband setting out his plans for the NHS

    The Labour leader says the country faces a choice of two futures - continuing with a Conservative plan, which has led to an "NHS in crisis" and "threatens the service as we know it". Or a Labour plan to "rescue" the NHS, invest in its future and join up services from home to hospital.

     
  12.  
    10:25: NHS 'in peril'

    Ed Miliband says the "precious" institution faces its "most perilous moment in a generation".

     
  13.  
    10:25: Ed Miliband on NHS

    Ed Miliband is now delivering a speech on the NHS in Trafford, Manchester.

     
  14.  
    10:24: More on GDP BBC News Channel

    The ONS's chief economist, Joe Grice, tells the BBC News Channel it's "too early to say" if this slowdown will persist. "The dominant services sector remains buoyant while the contraction has taken place in industries like construction, mining and energy supply, which can be erratic," he says.

     
  15.  
    10:23: GDP breakdown

    A breakdown of those GDP figures. The dominant services sector, which represents more than three quarters of output, grew by 0.8% - meaning services are now 7.9% ahead of their pre-downturn level at the start of 2008. Growth was dragged down by construction, which contracted by 1.8% - its worst slowdown since the second quarter of 2012.

     
  16.  
    09:54: GDP figures

    But the 0.5% growth in the final three months of 2014 represents a slight slowdown from the previous three months, which saw 0.7% growth.

     
  17.  
    09:51: GDP figures

    To put that 2.6% figure in context, that's the UK's best annual growth since 2007. In 2013, the economy grew by 1.7%.

     
  18.  
    09:49: GDP figures

    Reacting to those GDP figures, Chancellor George Osborne says they confirm the recovery is "on track". "Our plan is protecting Britain from the economic storm, with the fastest growth of any major economy in 2014. But the international climate is getting worse, and with 100 days to go until the election now is not the time to abandon that plan and return Britain to economic chaos," he says.

     
  19.  
    09:44: GDP figures

    BBC's business correspondent Ben Thompson says the ONS GDP figures are good news, but not as good as was expected. The services industry is doing quite well, but construction is dragging it down, he says.

     
  20.  
    09:32: Breaking News

    ONS says UK economy grew by 0.5% during the fourth quarter of 2014 and by 2.6% over the year.

     
  21.  
    09:27: Key dates

    The parties are ramping up their campaigns - and with 100 days until people go to the polls, the BBC's Jo Coburn highlights some key dates between now and then.

     
  22.  
    09:14: TV debates

    Here's a bit more on who said what on the TV debates this morning - and whether a deal is any closer. The latest proposal from the broadcasters suggested a seven-way debate between the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru on the BBC and ITV.

     
  23.  
    09:10: BBC analysis

    Get the expert analysis behind the election pledges. The BBC's Health Editor Hugh Pym blogs on Labour, the NHS and social care integration and the editor of the BBC's Political Research Unit David Cowling explains why this general election is impossible to call.

     
  24.  
    09:00: Poll tracker

    So with 100 days to go, how are the parties faring? Compare current ratings from a range of pollsters, and see how parties have performed since 2010 with our interactive poll tracker.

    Poll tracker
     
  25.  
    08:43: New nuggets Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Norman Smith says with 100 days to go until the election, the main parties are sticking to the themes they've stuck to for weeks - Labour on the NHS, and Tories on the economy. He says there are a couple of new nuggets from David Cameron though - a hint he's minded to continue protecting pensioner benefits such as bus passes and winter fuel allowances, and a view that Northern Ireland should be included in TV debates.

     
  26.  
    08:31: Not no, but not a yes either Nick Robinson Political editor

    Nick Robinson says David Cameron doesn't want to be seen to be saying "no" to the TV debates - but he's not exactly saying "yes" either.

     
  27.  
    08:30: Ed Milband on election BBC Breakfast

    The Labour leader says "Britain can do a lot better" and his party wants to put working people first. "This is a big election, and I'm going to fight for it," he says.

     
  28.  
    08:28: Cameron on TV debates BBC Radio 4 Today

    David Cameron says you can't include SNP and Plaid without having parties from Northern Ireland. He says that he initially was making the point that the Greens should take part, but the broadcasters have gone further. He says he had also had concerns about the debates taking place during the election campaign itself - he thinks they dominate the campaign too much.

     
  29.  
    08:26: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Breakfast

    Explaining how Labour is going to fund an extra £2.5bn a year across the UK for the NHS, Mr Milband says the party has "very clear plans" to raise the cash - from mansion tax, clamping down on tax avoidance and a levy on tobacco firms' market share.

     
  30.  
    08:23: In quotes: Cameron on benefits cap BBC Radio 4 Today
    David Cameron
     
  31.  
    08:20: Miliband on the sofa BBC Breakfast
    Ed Miliband
     
  32.  
    08:19: Ed Miliband on TV debates BBC Breakfast

    "The PM is wriggling and wriggling to get out of these debates - let's make these debates happen," says Ed Miliband.

     
  33.  
    08:16: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Breakfast

    The Labour leader is talking about the NHS again. He tells BBC Breakfast the "iron curtain" between health and social care isn't serving us well. "The NHS has got to start taking an interest in the social care system," he says.

     
  34.  
    08:16: David Cameron on benefits cap BBC Radio 4 Today

    David Cameron says that families subject to the existing benefits cap have been more likely to find work than people not hit by the cap. His party is "unashamedly pro-work and pro- people who work hard". The Conservatives are proposing to lower the cap from £26,000 to £23,000 a year and use the money saved to boost apprenticeships.

     
  35.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC political editor

    tweets: "There's horror and there's hope". @Ed_Miliband speaks movingly of his grandfather who died in a Nazi camp & those who were saved @bbc5live

     
  36.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: The most arresting sequence of Ed Miliband's @bbc5live interview was about Labour leader's loss of his grandfather in the Holocaust

     
  37.  
    Ed Miliband on TV debates BBC Radio 5 live

    "He gives it the big one about leadership," says Ed Miliband. If so, why is he so scared of the TV debates, the Labour leader asks of David Cameron. Mr Miliband says he'll take part, even if there's an empty chair where the Conservative leader should be.

     
  38.  
    08:00: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Radio 5 live

    He says the NHS is always going to be a priority for Labour and "staff and patients are crying out for a sense of a plan" for it - adding that his party has "the right policy and the right plan".

     
  39.  
    07:56: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Radio 5 live

    Labour leader Ed Miliband there is a "big fight on for the future of the NHS" and that he wants to "rescue" it, not weaponise it.

     
  40.  
    07:53: Ed Miliband talking NHS BBC Radio 5 live
    Ed Miliband on 5live
     
  41.  
    07:47: Andy Burnham on NHS BBC Radio 4 Today

    The shadow health secretary says the country needs to "rethink" the way we care for older people, who are often "trapped" on hospital beds and subject to "flying 15-minute visits" by social care workers on home visits. "We need to support people with dementia and autism as well as those with cancer," he says.

     
  42.  
    07:39: Andy Burnham on NHS BBC Radio 4 Today

    Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, tells BBC's Radio 4's Today programme the Labour Party is planning to "re-set" the NHS in England as the "National Health and Social Care Service".

     
  43.  
    07:25: David Cameron on election choice BBC Breakfast
    David Cameron

    David Cameron ends his Breakfast appearance by being asked about the lessons for the UK from what has happened in Greece. He says the election choice is "competence with the Conservatives", or "chaos with other options".

     
  44.  
    07:24: David Cameron on TV debates BBC Breakfast

    On the subject of TV election debates, Mr Cameron said it was a "good thing" that discussions had been taking place about which parties should be included. Asked if he would take part in the debates if Northern Ireland parties were included, he replied "yes", adding "a deal could be done".

     
  45.  
    07:21: David Cameron on apprenticeships BBC Breakfast

    David Cameron says apprenticeships are "very good" options for young people and the overwhelming majority of apprentices get jobs afterwards. The Conservatives are saying that they can create more using money saved by cutting the benefits cap limit.

     
  46.  
    07:16: David Cameron on benefits cap BBC Breakfast

    David Cameron tells BBC Breakfast that plans to reduce the benefits cap shows the Conservatives want to build on what he says is a successful policy of getting more people in to work - he says there was criticism in some parts of the country that £26,000 was too high. It's "absolutely crucial" to making sure young people get jobs and build a future for themselves, he says.

     
  47.  
    07:13: David Cameron on Breakfast
    David Cameron

    The Prime Minister David Cameron is appearing on BBC Breakfast from Downing Street.

     
  48.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC political editor

    tweets: Significance of today is not that it's 100 days until an election. It's Holocaust Memorial Day - when we pledge 'Never Again' @HolocaustUK

     
  49.  
    06:59: Party campaigns Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    The Tories are going on about the economy, there is a big push from Labour on the NHS today - I can see this going on right up to polling day. We've seen that the NHS is the number one issue for voters, but it has not yet translated to a lift off for Labour, despite the NHS winter crisis - which suggests the strategy appeals to the traditional Labour vote, but doesn't reach out beyond that.

     
  50.  
    06:57: The morning papers

    Meanwhile the Daily Mirror reports a survey which suggests a third of voters haven't made up their minds about how to vote yet.

    Mirror front page
     
  51.  
    06:53: The morning papers

    A bit more on how the 100 days to go point is being marked in the papers. With David Cameron and Ed Miliband appearing face-to-face on its front page, the i asks "where are the parties, what are the hot issues?". It also carries a poll suggesting the Tories have taken the lead over Labour.

    I front page
     
  52.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: David Cameron is on @bbcbreakfast at 0710 and @BBCR4Today at 0810. Ed Miliband is on @bbc5live at 0750 and @bbcbreakfast at 0810.

     
  53.  
    06:42: Breakfast briefing
    Chris Mason on Breakfast

    The two main parties "will be playing their hits today - what they think works with voters", BBC political correspondent Chris Mason tells BBC Breakfast. So Labour's focus is on the NHS and integrating social care. The Conservatives are talking about the economy and the benefits cap - they want to lower the cap and use the money to create more apprenticeships. The Lib Dems and UKIP are both focusing on what impact they might have in partnership with larger parties.

     
  54.  
    06:35: The morning papers

    The Daily Telegraph has an interview with David Cameron in which the prime minister pledges to reduce the annual benefits cap to £23,000 as the first act of a new Conservative government - a theme that also features in the Daily Mail.

    Telegraph front page
     
  55.  
    06:29: The morning papers

    Most of the papers mark the 100 days to go, with the Sun featuring the faces of readers on its front page and setting out its "Sunifesto" in a special edition, saying there are "100 days to save Britain".

    Sun front page
     
  56.  
    06:27: The morning ahead Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    It's an early start for the party leaders with David Cameron and Ed Miliband both appearing on BBC Breakfast and BBC radio between 07:10 GMT and 08:30 GMT. Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are also launching an election poster. The economy will take centre stage at 09:30 GMT when the GDP figures are out.

     
  57.  
    06:21: Good morning Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Hello and welcome to a fresh day's coverage of political developments ahead of the 7 May General Election - yes there's just 100 days to go now. You'll be able to listen or watch all the BBC's political output today on this page and we'll be bringing you all the best clips, quotes, analysis, reaction and breaking political news throughout the day. If you want to see what to expect, here's yesterday's campaign countdown.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Older ladyAge of happiness

    A Russian photographer documents inspirational seniors who are refusing to grow old

Programmes

  • A computer generated model of a lift shaftClick Watch

    The future of elevator technology - lifts that can climb up to 1km in the air and even travel sideways

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.