Opinion: Helping to build a stronger economy and a fairer society

I am proud that this week's Budget will greatly benefit tens of thousands of ordinary working residents and parents of our borough.

At the last election the Liberal Democrats' top priority was to give low and middle earners a £700 tax cut. And we've delivered. From this April, for the first time ever, nobody will pay income tax on the first £10,000 they earn. This is helping 87,100 people in Sutton.

As the economy continues to recover, I think it's important that we make sure everyone can share in the economic benefits. That's why in addition to a 3% rise in the adult minimum wage in October of this year, from April 2015, we'll increase the personal allowance again, putting another £100 back in people's pockets. This means the total Lib Dem tax cut will be worth £800 a year.

While the Conservatives persistently pursued tax cuts for millionaires, I am proud that we have ensured the Coalition delivers our top pledge to help ordinary working people by increasing the personal allowance. And we have done this four times faster than Labour managed during their 13 years in government.

Cutting income tax isn't the only way the Liberal Democrats are helping cut living costs. We want to do everything we can do help reduce the cost of childcare for parents. That is why we announced new tax-free childcare to save working parents up to £2,000 per child.

From next year, working parents will be able to get 20p from the government for every £1 they spend on childcare. This will help 6210 families in Sutton, and around 2 million families across the UK. I am delighted that we have been able to introduce this support on top of the 15 hours a week of free early years education that we have already introduced for 3 and 4 year olds and for disadvantaged 2 year olds.

These reforms, along with our pupil premium and a 6.4% increase in funding for Sutton's schools, are all part of our commitment to levelling the playing field and enabling all children to get on in life, regardless of their background.

At the Budget, we also confirmed that fuel duty will be frozen until the end of parliament. In total, Liberal Democrat changes are saving drivers £11 every time they fill up their tanks compared to what it would have cost under Labour's plans.

We are also helping responsible drinkers by cutting beer duty for the second year running. On top of this, we've frozen duty on spirits and cider, and scrapped Labour's above inflation escalator on wine. I'm sure many across the borough would agree with me when I say this is certainly something to raise a glass to.

All of these changes have been possible because of Liberal Democrats in government. By producing a long term economic plan, the Lib Dems have been able to deliver tax cuts which are building a stronger economy and a fairer society.

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