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A strong economy and a fairer society

This is an article for the South Wales Evening Post

The Liberal Democrats are the only UK party that has said that fair funding for Wales will be a manifesto commitment. 

In Government, we have said we will implement a ‘funding floor’ so that there is a minimum level of funding for Wales.  However, we will go further than that.  We will also ‘top-up’ Wales’ underfunding gap so we finally receive fair funding. 

Unlike Labour, we will eliminate the structural deficit by 2017/18 and not prolong the economic pain longer than is necessary through wild amounts of borrrowing.  Unlike the Tories, we will not just savagely cut for the sake of it.  We will balance the books fairly..  

We will borrow £70bn less than Labour and cut £50bn less than the Tories –anchoring the government in the centre ground.  To help balance the books, we will not raise income tax, national insurance or VAT. Our tax rises will be on high earners, high value properties and the banking sector. By balancing the books by 2017-18, this will mean we are able to start investing again halfway through the next Parliament helping the economy to grow and making us all better off.

The Liberal Democrats will pay the Living Wage in all central government departments and their agencies from 2016.  We will also require companies with over 250 staff to publish how many people are paid less than the Living Wage.

No party has done more to crack down on tax avoidance than the Liberal Democrats.  Already we’ve brought in £100 billion extra over the course of this Parliament – including £31 billion from big business.  We will continue with this and make sure that big businesses contribute their fair share to the British economy.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party which has committed to giving the NHS the money experts say it needs.  This would bring an extra £450 million more into Wales to spend on tackling mental health discrimination and ensuring enough staff in Welsh wards.

We are also committed to protecting the education budget from age 2 to 19, from cradle to college, to ensure that all children have the best start in life. The best way to reduce inequality across society and help the economy grow in the future is to give all children the chance of a good education.

The Liberal Democrats will always be guided by the founding principles of the NHS - providing free care, when you need it, regardless of your ability to pay.

What is important is the standard of care people receive.  Not only have we ruled out Labour's costly PFI methods, but in England we also rolled back Labour’s rules that meant private companies were paid even when they ended up not treating a patient.

The Liberal Democrats think it is right that after years of paying into the system, pensioners get the support they need from the Government.  That is why we’ve increased pensions by £950 a year, thanks to our new ‘triple lock’ rule, which ensures state pensions always rise with inflation, earnings or 2.5% - whichever is highest. 

The Liberal Democrats believe that the best way to reduce the welfare bill is to get more people back into work.  That is exactly what we have done over the last parliament, and we now have the highest number of people in work since records began.  By raising the income tax threshold, we have also ensured that low and middle income earners get to keep more of their money, and millions of the lowest earners pay no income tax at all, so being in work always pays.

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