Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Clegg slams Labour over tax claims

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said 'millions are paying more while millionaires pay less'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has attacked Labour for trying to "pull the wool over people's eyes" about sweeping tax changes.

As the new financial year kicked in, Labour made its campaign highlighting the impact of reforms, which includes a cut in the top rate of income tax, launching a poster with the tagline: "Who Wants to Bung a Millionaire? Dave Does."

The Opposition said "millions are paying more while millionaires pay less", and claimed a one-earner family with children will be £4,000 worse off on average in the next 12 months as a result of changes introduced since the coalition took power.

Reducing the 50p top rate of tax to 45p will save 13,000 people with an income of more than £1 million an average of £100,000, it added.

But Mr Clegg insisted ministers had fixed a "gross unfairness" in the system left by the previous government that allowed the rich to pay less tax than the poor.

In a "letter from the leader", he told Lib Dem supporters: "Of course, the new 45p upper tax rate - down from 50p - is also coming into effect. But don't let Labour pull the wool over people's eyes. They may complain now, but of the 13 years they were in power, the 50p rate was in place for just 36 days.

"In fact, for most of the time their top tax rate was 40p. Not 50p. Not 45p. But 40p - 5p less than now. And under Labour a cleaner would pay a higher rate of tax on their wages than a hedge fund manager selling their shares - a gross unfairness we have fixed."

Among a raft of changes that came in on Saturday is the largest rise in the personal allowance, which means no-one pays any tax until they earn more than £9,440.

Prime Minister David Cameron took to Twitter to highlight change. He wrote: "From today, 24 million people will be paying £600 less income tax than in 2010."

But shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the personal allowance increase was effectively swept away by the coalition's other benefit and tax reforms. "Families with children are being hit hardest of all," he said. "For example, a one-earner family with children will be a staggering £4,000 worse off on average this year because of tax and benefit changes since 2010. And this is on top of the income squeeze we have seen over the last three years as a flat-lining economy has seen prices rise faster than wages."

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