Clegg hits out at Tories over tax
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has sought to provoke a new row with his Conservative coalition partners, accusing them of resisting plans to raise personal allowances taking millions of low earners out of income tax.
With the two coalition parties seeking to set out distinctive positions ahead of the general election in May, the Liberal Democrat leader said the Tories had to be dragged "kicking and screaming" to accept the measure.
He said that by April, a worker earning the average annual salary of £27,200 would be paying £825 less in income tax than they were at the time of the last election as a result of successive budget increases in the personal allowance - from £6,475 to £10,600 - while 3.5 million would pay no income tax at all.
"I'm proud to say the Liberal Democrats in government have delivered the biggest cut in income tax for a generation, helping millions of people keep more of their hard earned wages," he said.
"In 2010, raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 was a Liberal Democrat promise on the front page of our manifesto which we have delivered and now surpassed.
"The Conservatives had to be brought along kicking and screaming and were reluctant to introduce this tax cut."
His comments are likely to infuriate Conservatives who insist that the increase in personal allowances is as much their policy as the Lib Dems'.
The Conservatives hit back, accusing the Lib Dems of resisting their plans for further rises to the personal allowance if they regain power at the general election.
"We plan to cut income tax for millions again in the next parliament by raising the personal allowance to £12,500 - but the Liberal Democrats oppose this, calling the hard-working taxpayers who will benefit 'rich'," said a Conservative Party spokesman.