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Five ways to tackle inequality

October 13, 2017 11:57 AM
By Tom Burgess in Liberal Democrat Newswire

A rejuvenated Liberal Democrat party not only needs to be firmly committed to Europe but also dedicated to sharing the wealth we all help create. We need to be the party that will tackle head on the fundamental issue of our time, namely the extreme economic inequality and the resultant financial hardship suffered by millions every day as they struggle to make ends meet. This means that all our core policies must relate back to this issue and prove that they contribute to these goals.

The status quo is not an option, people want change, and they told us that with the referendum vote, they told us that with this year's election. The party needs to set of practical policies that will deliver on a clear vision for Britain. This new agenda should focus on making life better for millions of people, creating more opportunity, more jobs and growing our economy for the benefit of all, not just the few.

I believe there are five core policies that would radically shift the balance of inequality within a five year Parliament mainly by taking funds out of "storage" by the super wealthy and putting them into circulation for the benefit of all, helped by shifting the tax base away from taxes based on income to taxes based on wealth. We all help create the wealth but currently it is only accumulated by the few and needs to be shared more equitably. I call these five policies an Agenda for Progressive Prosperity:

  • 1 Give five million people a vital boost by implementing a Real Living Wage (as determined by Living Wage Foundation).

  • 2 Abolish income taxes for 25 million payers, it will give up to a 15% income boost, inject £60 billion into economy and only reduce government revenue by 8%.

  • 3 Ramp up infrastructure investment by abolishing council tax and business rates and replacing with a Land Value Tax which as the name implies is directly related to the value of the land, a small number of owners of highly valuable land will pay a lot more where as most people will pay the same or less.

  • 4 Invest significantly more in health and education by a small tax on personal assets for those with over £2million (excluding primary residence). This would also cover the income tax cuts.

  • 5 Encourage business to be more socially responsible by offering incentives rather than more regulation. So those "good" companies that pay a real living wage, have realistic pay scales, profit sharing schemes, allow employee participation, use renewables and sign up to a fair tax agreement, and more, would benefit from certain tax breaks off their corporation tax bill.

All these policies reduce inequality, increase opportunity and cause no hardship. They are truly distinctive from both Labour and Conservatives as they demonstrate that the Liberal Democrats are the party of all the people, the party of inclusivity and the party truly committed to moving us all from here to prosperity

Tom Burgess is Executive Director of the Progressive Policy Unit and author of From Here to Prosperity. He was a founding member of the SDP and is now a Lib Dem member. Here's his plan for following up on Vince Cable's talk of tackling inequality.