Monday, 30 November 2009

Lib Dem Taxes would Hit Elmbridge Hardest

Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats today faced accusations of U-turn and blunder, as they scaled back their so-called ‘mansion tax’, amidst a slew of other tax measures. Having announced an annual 1% tax on homes over £1million just weeks ago, today Nick Clegg said it would be 0.5% on homes over £2million.

Whilst the new policy would still affect homeowners in Elmbridge – 14,000 would face state inspectors barging their way into the home to assess their value – the real pain would come from Lib Dem plans for a new local income tax to replace council tax.

The Lib Dem local income tax would be charged at 3.5% of the basic and higher rates of income tax. If these changes ever saw the light of day, the average family in Elmbridge would pay over £2,500 extra in taxes each year. Elmbridge would be the third hardest hit area in the country. To add insult to injury, the extra revenue would not even be invested locally, but siphoned out of the constituency to the Treasury.

This measure must be seen in context. Surrey taxpayers currently pay Gordon Brown £5.5 billion each year, but get back a third of the national average level of funding for local services. This chokes local services across the board – whether for local policing (witness the centrally-imposed cap on local police funding), NHS services (like the threatened closures at Walton, Molesey and Cobham hospitals) and school places (bearing in mind the acute pressure on secondary schools in Elmbridge).

Well at least the choice at the next election is clear. The Lib Dems look at the lousy deal Elmbridge gets from the Treasury, and are happy to make it worse. A Conservative government is committed to giving Elmbridge a fairer deal. That means curbing the irresponsible levels of government spending and debt, redressing the current unfair local funding formula and strengthening local democracy to give local communities greater control over how their hard-earned taxes are spent. I will personally campaign tirelessly to reduce the burden of taxation on business and families in Elmbridge. We need to cut corporation tax, give councils a greater share of the revenue raised from business rates (so they can, for example, cut parking charges) and address the ‘couple penalty’ that gives the average couple a £12,000 annual incentive to split up via the tax and welfare system.


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