Today we take our final look at the manifestos of the three main political parties and what their pledges will mean to contractors voting in the general election next week. We have already examined the manifestos of Labour and the Conservatives, so today we conclude with the Liberal Democrats and their plans for tax, the economy and business.
The first pledge made by the Liberal Democrats regarding tax is for each individual’s first £10,000 earned per annum to be tax free. They believe this will equate to a tax cut of approximately £700 per person. They also plan to remove the 3.6 million people who are low earners or pensioners from the income tax threshold. They aim to pay for these cuts in taxes by closing the existing tax loopholes which, they believe “unfairly benefit the wealthy and polluters”.
In line with their aim to make tax fairer, the Liberal Democrats have plans to award fresh powers to HMRC to tackle tax evasion and avoidance with regards to corporation tax, stamp duty and NICs. They also plan to ensure that properties in an offshore trust cannot avoid stamp duty. The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to place restrictions on tax credits or scrap the Child Trust Fund to release further funds.
With regards to the economy, the Liberal Democrats have plans for their first year in office if they win the election, where they will unveil a job creation and fiscal stimulus program. They have a dedication to developing a greener economy while reducing the deficit. They believe their green stimulus plan will create 100,000 job opportunities. However, one of their main aims is to break up the banks. Assuming conditions remain as they are at present in the UK economy, they also plan to introduce spending cuts from the start of 2011-12. They are also planning to set up an Infrastructure Bank which will direct private finance towards such projects as new rail services.
The Liberal Democrats have stated that their primary aim in breaking up the banks is to ensure that they start to lend to businesses again. They also wish to encourage local investors to put money into Local Enterprise Funds which will grow businesses in each locale. A Creative Enterprise Fund will also be introduced. Rate relief for businesses will be simplified with small businesses receiving automatic rate relief. Regional Development Agencies will also be reformed under a Liberal Democrat Government. It is another aim of this party to make sure that businesses in the UK are not disadvantaged by EU rules. However, with regards to UK rules, they want to adopt the ‘one in, one out’ principle to reduce the administrative burden on businesses.
Regarding foreign workers in the UK, the Liberal Democrat want to make the points-based system regional so that migrants workers will only work in the areas that they are actually needed.
With regards to the emergence of ‘Digital Britain’, the Liberal Democrats aim to support the roll out of superfast broadband by supporting public investment in this arena. They also aim to target this at the areas of the country which are least likely to be provided for.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to scrap ID cards and biometric passports. They wish to consider the potential of open source software and cloud computing within government IT procurement. Finally, they will cap public sector pay rises at £400 for an initial period of 2 years.