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LIBERAL DEMOCRAT ALTERNATIVE BUDGET

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The Liberal Democrat Alternative Budget outlining the party's priorities for the forthcoming budget was launched to...
The Liberal Democrat Alternative Budget outlining the party's priorities for the forthcoming budget was launched today by Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Matthew Taylor, shadow chancellor, Nick Harvey, shadow health secretary and Sandra Gidley, health spokeswoman.
The Liberal Democrats will be the first British political party to guarantee that in the next parliament there will be no new stealth taxes. A Liberal Democrat government will send every taxpayer an annual Citizen's Tax Contract - a simple explanation of what people are paying in tax, any tax changes introduced, why, and what they are spent on.
You can get the full budget document in pdf format here.
Key elements of the fully-costed programme include:
Education:
Cut class sizes to 25 and provide a classroom assistant for 5 to 11 year olds.
Fund an additional 5000 secondary teacher places.
Funded by 1p on the basic rate of income tax.
Pensions:
Increase the basic state pension by£5 a week for each pension and£10 for the over 75s and£15 for the over 80s.
Funded through the 50% top tax band.
Health:
Provide training places for 3,300 more doctors and 11,400 more nurses and midwives over five years.
Reward low-paid nurses, midwives and other professionals by paying them an additional£1000 on average every year.
Funded by using part of the revenue from a new 50% top tax rate on income over£100,000, and by capital gains tax changes.
Charles Kennedy said:
'The Tories and Labour are fighting a meaningless war of words. You can't cut taxes without cutting services. Everybody knows you can't get something for nothing.'
Matthew Taylor said:
'Liberal Democrats will explain exactly what people are paying in tax and what their money is being spent on. You can't get more teachers, nurses and police on the beat for free - but they are affordable.'
Nick Harvey said:
'If Britain spent as much on health as other developed countries then more people would survive cancer, more people would recover from heart attacks and old people would not have to sell their homes to pay for their care.
'You either ask people who can afford it to contribute a little more in tax or people will be driven into paying for private treatment as the Conservatives plan. You can't get a decent health service at cut price.'
Sandra Gidley said:
'As a pharmacist, I understand how frustrating it is when drugs are available in some parts of the country, but not in others. The postcode lottery that exists in the NHS, is a great blight on a supposedly national system.
'That's why one of our priorities is to save money within the current drugs bill, so that we get better value for patients, and so we have extra money to provide a wide range of treatments.
'We will establish a new Pharmaceutical Agency, which can use the purchasing muscle of the NHS to negotiate pharmaceutical prices in a more competitive way.'
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