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13 #LibDemWins in the Autumn Statement

December 4, 2014 6:24 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Autumn Statement this week is packed with Liberal Democrat policies, and has our priorities at its core. Read on for 13 wins which are helping to build a stronger economy in a fairer society.

1. Our economic plan is working

Our economic plan is working and the economy is recovering faster than forecast and the UK is the fastest growing major advanced economy. Thanks to Liberal Democrats in Government, we are restoring the public finances to a sustainable path and delivering economic security. The deficit is forecast to have halved from its 2009/10 peak in 2014/15 as a share of GDP. Inflation is low, supporting households and businesses, and a record number of people - 30.8 million - are in work. By 2018/19, the Government is forecast to run the first surplus for 18 years. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said, "After many difficult decisions and with the hard work of people up and down the country, the British economy is doing well. As the economy continues to grow stronger, we are making sure that it does so in a society that is fairer."

2. Another tax cut for low and middle income workers

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is delivering a further tax cut for low and middle income workers by increasing the Personal Tax Allowance to £10,600 in April, giving basic rate taxpayers a cut of £120. That means the typical basic rate taxpayer will be £825 better off in cash terms over the course of this Parliament. Someone working full time on the National Minimum Wage will pay £618 less in tax in 2015/16 than they did in 2010/11 - a reduction of 77%. 27 million are benefiting from our income tax cuts and by April, 3.4 million people will pay no income tax at all.

3. Stamp duty reforms will help first-time buyers

Stamp duty land tax will be reformed to help first time buyers get onto the property ladder, Danny Alexander has announced. The new system, based on long-standing Lib Dem policy to help first-time buyers, is being made fairer so that people buying houses worth £935,000 or less will pay the same or less stamp duty than at present, and people buying the most expensive properties will pay more. From 4 December 2014, the stamp duty paid on the average house price will be £4,500 lower, while those buying a home for £5m will pay £163,750 more.

4. £150m will be invested in tackling eating disorders

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb have secured £150m to tackle eating disorders as part of the Autumn Statement. The new investment will radically reform the treatment of children and young people with eating disorders and pave the way for new waiting time standards. It comes just a month after research showed the number of young people being admitted to hospital for treatment for eating disorders was increasing. Nick said, "Too often children with mental health problems are being completely let down, with many suffering from eating disorders that go unreported and untreated."

5. Extra cash will boost the NHS

Norman Lamb has also secured £2bn extra cash for the NHS in 2015/16 in the Autumn Statement. Norman has led calls for the extra funds, including additional money for mental healthcare. The extra cash comes from a combination of bank fines collected by the Financial Conduct Authority and a variety of departmental savings. Norman said, "Liberal Democrats want to create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society. That means properly funding the NHS for the future and providing better care both for physical and mental health."

6. More investment for affordable housing

More affordable homes will be built in the next five years than at any point for more than two decades, Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has announced. The Government will invest an extra £975m to extend the affordable housing programme from 2018 to 2020. 55,000 homes will be built each year from 2015, giving a total of 275,000 to be built in the next Parliament. This new funding builds on the Liberal Democrats excellent record in Government that has already seen us deliver the first increase in the social housing stock since the 1970s.

7. Small businesses will get more help

Small businesses will get more help thanks to an extension of the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced. The SBRR scheme will now be extended for a further year through to 31st March 2016 to provide particular support for 575,000 of the smallest businesses. We have also announced as part of the Autumn Statement that the forthcoming increase in business rates will be capped at 2% and we will provide extra support for the high street by giving a £1,500 discount to retail properties.

8. More homes to get flood protection

300,000 homes will be better protected from flooding after more than 1,400 new flood defence projects were announced in the Autumn Statement by Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. The flood defence scheme is a six year programme, worth £2.3bn, to help prevent more than £30bn of economic damage caused as a result of flooding. It forms part of the National Infrastructure Plan and will help reduce total flood risk by 5%. Danny said, "The projects we are announcing at the Autumn Statement will protect some of the country's most at risk locations ensuring that we will be as prepared as possible for future severe weather."

9. Tidal Power will get investment

The UK will start closer discussion with Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd to establish whether a potential tidal lagoon project at Swansea Bay is affordable and value for money for consumers, Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey has announced. The UK is the world's foremost centre for tidal energy development. If the project were to progress, it could become the first tidal lagoon project in the world. Ed said, "Tidal energy is a huge opportunity for Britain. That's why we're showing investors and developers that we're serious about tidal lagoon potential and have started in-depth discussions for what could become the world's first tidal lagoon."

10. It will be cheaper to employ apprentices

Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable has delivered nearly 2 million apprenticeship starts since 2010 and we are working to give even more young people the opportunity to take one up. That's why, from April 2016, employers will no longer be required to pay employer National Insurance contributions for the 500,000 apprentices under the age of 25 on earnings up to the upper earnings limit. This means that employers of all apprentices under the age of 25 will be exempt from paying employer NICs. This reduces the cost of employing young apprentices and will encourage employers to increase the number of apprentices they take on.

11. The British Business Bank will get a £400m boost

Vince Cable's Business Bank will be boosted by a further £400 million following an announcement in the Autumn Statement. The British Business Bank operates on a commercial basis to support small businesses. It works with the private sector to support and increase the availability of finance and allows small firms access to help they might not otherwise have had. This extra money will be backed up by business expertise and shared risk so that small businesses get the best chance to be successful. Vince Cable said: "Today's Autumn Statement shows real support for small business, manufacturing and science."

12. Postgraduates can apply for student loans

The UK needs high-skilled workers so Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable has reformed higher education and removed the student numbers cap at undergraduate level in order to meet the demand. Liberal Democrats in Government are introducing income contingent loans of up to £10,000 from 2016/17 for those under the age of 30 to undertake a postgraduate taught Masters course. These loans will be structured so that on average, graduates will repay them fully, but they will beat commercial rates.

13. Roads and Rail getting big investment

A good quality road network is essential to the country's economic sustainability. We need infrastructure fit for the 21st century, consistent with our economic, environmental and safety goals. Our Roads Investment Strategy - announced as part of the National Infrastructure Project - involves over 100 major schemes. £2 billion will be spend on the A303, A30 and A358 corridor, connecting the South West with a new expressway. £640 million will be used to improve the A1 to the west and north of Newcastle and £6 billion is being set aside to resurface up to 80% of the strategic road network by the end of the decade. Lib Dem Transport Minister Susan Kramer is spearheading an overhaul of our railways, improving accessibility at stations, carrying out a major electrification programme and improving capacity on key routes.