In the second of our election features ahead of the May 7 election, the parliamentary candidates for North West Cambridgeshire share their views on what needs to be done with the economy and taxation. Next week, the Peterborough candidates will write about health and the NHS.
Nick Thulbourn - Labour
The Conservative promise to remove the deficit by this election was a complete failure and despite the harsh and painful cuts the national debt has actually doubled to a whopping £1.4 trillion.
As a local businessman, a local councillor and a member of one of the now famous hard working families, I have asked myself why the government has failed so dramatically.
And, importantly, what should be done to ensure this failure does not go on and on.
Firstly this government’s tax receipts from people in work have been disastrously low and the benefits’ bill has soared because low wages and the cost of living crisis has hit people hard.
In our area up to one-in-four households are now on benefits with the overwhelming majority in work.
The solution is to ensure wages and the quality of jobs rise. Business has a pivotal role and Labour’s planned National Investment Bank is in my opinion a truly exciting opportunity to release the talent and innovation that is part of who we are but has been held back for too long.
Our young people have the talent to plug the skills shortage and Labour will ensure they get this opportunity.
I have no problem with people being successful for themselves and their families, but unlike the Conservatives or UKIP I believe that everyone has to play by the same rules. Labour will go after wealthy tax dodgers.
The deficit reduction failure by the Tory government can also be seen when they cut a budget in one area only to get massive rises in another area – pensioner care and the NHS as one example of many.
Learning from this Tory failure Labour will ensure an intelligent plan that will reduce the overall deficit whilst ensuring everyone benefits, not just the few.
Peter Reeve - UKIP
UKIP believes in low taxation, entrepreneurship and fairness. We are committed to making people’s personal taxation fairer and more equitable. By the end of the next Parliament we will raise the personal tax allowance to £13,000, taking those on the minimum wage out of tax altogether.
We will raise the 40 per cent threshold for paying tax to £55,000 and introduce a new 30 per cent intermediate rate on earnings between £43,500 and £55,000. We will abolish inheritance tax and increase the transferable tax allowance for married couples to £1,500.
UKIP will ensure big corporations pay their fair share of tax as the current system is grossly unfair. We will remove VAT from listed building repairs and sanitary products.
EU membership brings uncontrolled mass immigration which drives down wages, and for many jobs now the minimum wage has become the maximum wage. UKIP would protect workers’ rights, end the abuse of zero hour contracts and scrap EU directives which restrict the British economy and go against our proud work ethos.
Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy and UKIP want to protect them to enable them to compete in Britain and the global market without the mass burden of EU red tape. We want to prevent big businesses delaying payment to smaller companies. We would cut business rates by 20 per cent for companies with premises with a total rateable value of less than £50,000.
UKIP is the only party with a fully costed manifesto where we can show where all our expenditure will come from (independently assessed by the Centre for Economic and Business Research). We will pay for these economic commitments out of savings made from leaving the EU, ending health tourism, cutting the cost of government, reviewing the unfair Barnett Formula and cancelling HS2.
Shailesh Vara - Conservative
This is the most important general election for a generation and the economy is right at the centre of the campaign.
Five years ago, our economy was in crisis and Britain was on the brink.
In government the Conservative-led coalition has had to take some very difficult decisions. These were necessary decisions to help secure our country’s future prosperity.
Five years on, the British public is beginning to benefit from our long-term economic plan. The deficit has been halved as a share of our economy.
By increasing personal allowances, over 25 million people have had a tax cut and three million have been taken out of tax altogether.
Over the next parliament we will raise the personal allowance even further to £12,500.
We have frozen fuel duty so that drivers are saving 20 pence a litre and an average family saves £11 every time they fill up their tank.
There are 1.85 million more jobs since 2010. And two million new apprenticeships are ensuring that both young and old receive opportunities to acquire the skills and experience they need to better get on in life.
For pensioners, the government has delivered the biggest ever cash rise in the Basic State Pension. We have guaranteed that the pension always increases in line with earnings, inflation or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest.
A strong and prosperous economy also ensures there is more money for our public services, such as the NHS and education.
We have made much progress since 2010 but the work is not complete and there is more to be done.
On May 7 your vote is important.
Conservatives have a record of improving the economy and of strong leadership. I hope you will vote for me and the Conservatives so that together we can help deliver a better future for Britain.
Fay Belham - Christian Peoples Alliance
The Christian Peoples Alliance says:
1. Taxation must be fair. There is a need for some changes in the system. Concretely the CPA is committed to seeking to balance the government’s books over the medium-term. We want a much reduced regulatory system in every industry which we believe can lead to lower taxation.
We are appalled by the scandal of tax evasion and fraud that has reared its ugly head.
2. Maintain the public spending infrastructure programme but review it to establish if the schemes proposed are the best ones and include in it investment in industry, not just primarily transport. We need to invest and export more, be innovate, and build.
3. Phase out the housing schemes. These schemes are creating a dangerous bubble that unchecked can only lead to higher interest rates. In mid-2014 prices across the UK were rising by 11.1 per cent a year and by 18 per cent a year in London. The schemes were good to get the market going, but very dangerous when the market is expanding rapidly.
4. Encourage wealth to be distributed more fairly: force companies to pay bonuses to all employees pro rata.
. Company shares must be allocated to all employees for tax benefits.
. We will clamp down on tax avoidance by making it illegal to offset losses from one company against the profit of another.
. We will also undertake international discussions on preventing companies sending profits abroad to avoid tax. We will consult on introducing a turnover tax on companies such as a 5 per cent company VAT.
5. Reform the banking system. There are detailed proposals in our manifesto.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” - Proverbs 31:8-9
Nicola Day - Green Party
In the wake of the HSBC, Swiss Leaks and LuxLeaks tax avoidance scandals the Green Party has pledged to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill in the first 100 days after the election. The campaign for such a bill is widely supported by NGOs, cooperatives, faith groups, MPs and unions.
Accountancy firms such as Deloitte have enabled 300 bankers to avoid paying tax on £91 million of bonuses. That the wealthiest in society can dodge their tax whilst the poorest are forced to pay the bedroom tax and struggle to pay council tax debts is terribly unfair.
The Green Party has long championed firm action on tax avoidance as an alternative to austerity and fully back the bill calling for the UK tax regime to be more transparent and tougher on tax dodging.
Our policy is to crack down heavily on tax havens and other methods of tax evasion and avoidance, and press for a transparent country-by- country reporting so company profits can be located and taxed.
In 2011 Green MP Caroline Lucas launched the Tax and Financial Transparency Bill in the Commons. She exposed the fact that HMRC was failing to prevent serious tax evasion, amounting to as much as £16 billion of lost tax each year.
Despite two attempts at getting the bill passed, it failed to gain enough parliamentary support.
Tax avoidance has cost this country tens of billions of pounds over the last parliament at a time when public services are being slashed.
If the government’s political priorities had been clamping down on tax avoidance, rather than dismantling our welfare state and public services, we’d be in a far fairer, more humane, and more economically stable Britain.
We need new laws to make the UK tax regime tougher on those who wish to avoid contributing to our society.
Nick Sandford - Liberal Democrats
In government over the past five years the Liberal Democrats have achieved a massive amount.
We have rescued our economy from the mess left by the last Labour government, reduced the deficit by a third and helped create over one million new jobs.
Two million new apprenticeships have been created for young people and older people have seen their largest pension increases ever.
Through our pupil premium primary schools in our most deprived communities now get over £1,000 a year extra for every student on free school meals.
On tax, we have kept the promise we made on the front page of our manifesto in 2010 to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000.
The Tories said it couldn’t be done but we showed it could. It has meant that three million of the lowest earners (many of them women) now pay no income tax at all and all basic rate tax payers have had a tax cut of over £700 a year.
That’s Liberal Democrats in government letting you keep more of your hard-earned cash.
Now, with your support, we want to go further and increase our income tax cut for low and middle earners by lifting the point at which you start paying from £10 000 to £12 500 a year, saving 24 million people another £500 a year.
We also want to give support to business by protecting the science budget to drive innovation and by giving extra tax breaks for small businesses.
Let’s never go back to the way things were, because Labour can’t be trusted with your money and the Tories can’t be trusted to treat people fairly.
In North West Cambridgeshire and across the country, only the Liberal Democrats can be relied upon to create a stronger economy and a fairer society.