05 September 2008
The Liberal Democrats will debate a major change to their tax policy at their autumn conference as they try to position themselves as the party to help people through tough economic times.
Speaking ahead of the conference, which begins in Bournemouth on September 13, foreign affairs spokesman and chair of campaigns and communications Edward Davey said the LibDems would generate £20bn in public expenditure savings. These would be 're-allocated to Liberal Democrat priorities' and passed on as tax cuts.
Davey said the policy was a practical response to high levels of public spending, marking a fundamental shift from the policies of the 1980s and 1990s. 'We were the first party in the 1980s to say that taxes needed to go up. We felt we needed to increase taxes to get money into public services,' he added.
Davey identified IT projects and the 'plethora of quangos' as easier places to make savings, but said spending on the NHS could actually increase.
The LibDems are also committed to scrapping council tax in favour of a local income tax.
The conference will be Nick Clegg's first as party leader. The economy and social mobility will take centre stage.