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Fairer taxes and Government savings to fund priority public services

March 4, 2004 12:00 AM

Liberal Democrat proposals published today would scrap council tax, abolish student tuition fees and deliver millions of pounds extra for local services, says Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington.

Speaking after the launch of the Liberal Democrat Alternative Budget 2004, Tom Brake said:

"Liberal Democrats believe in fair tax not high tax. That is why we would scrap the unfair council tax and replace it with a local income tax, based on people's ability to pay.

"Student tuition fees are an unfair tax too. They are a tax on learning. That is why we would stop top-up fees, scrap tuition fees and bring in fair grants for poorer students. We would also scrap the unfair charges that many older people have to pay when they need help with their personal care, such as washing and dressing. In Scotland, where the Liberal Democrats have been part of the government for the last five years, we have already done these things. I want to see them done here in England too. And today the Liberal Democrats have set out how we can, paid for by asking the highest earners to pay a small amount extra in tax."

Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow has also welcomed today's announcement by Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy that the party have found at least £5 billion a year of savings which can be made and the money redirected into frontline public services:

"I want to see first class public services - but I believe they can be achieved through better spending, not just bigger spending. Too much is being spent on low priority areas with not enough making it through to the front line.

"By cutting down the size of government, moving some ministries outside expensive Central London and devolving more decision-making powers to local communities we can make big savings in the central government budget which can be used for priority public services like improving health care, pensions and fighting crime.

"The Liberal Democrats have identified more than £5 billion of savings that could be made from the government's spending every year. That works out at more than £7.5 million extra for every constituency in Britain. Some of that money would be spent centrally, on areas like pensions, but it would also deliver real improvements in services here in Carshalton and Wallington without putting up people's tax bills."

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