23 March 2010
In advance of Alistair Darling's 2010 budget, the Green Party wants to see three key provisions included:
- a non-means-tested state pension, set at £170 a week (1)
- a nationwide programme to insulate homes which would create 350 000 training placements over the next year (2)
- an end to the zero-rating of VAT on new dwellings, putting them on a level with conversions and renovations of existing dwellings, raising £5bn in 2010 and £7.5bn by 2013
The Green Party welcomes Labour's adoption of a long-standing Green policy idea, the idea of a People's Bank. The Green Party would provide initial funding of £2.5 billion over the next Parliament to assist communities in setting up such a network.
The Green Party's leader, Caroline Lucas, said, "Our manifesto, to be released just after the call of the general election, is a practical and realistic plan to move towards a more equal society, fight climate change and protect public services."
Lucas continued: "Unlike the other parties, we will argue that increases in taxation for the better-off are required. We will raise taxes fairly and explain them honestly."
"Labour's plans depend upon wishful thinking about how quickly the economy and tax revenues will recover. They are unwilling to tell you about the cuts and tax increases coming later. The Conservatives will cut public spending, but have not put forward a plan that adds up to remotely enough cuts without tax increases to cut the deficit."
"In contrast, the Green Party will be open about what we would cut, what we would defend, and about the fact that we need to raise taxation from 36% of GDP in 2009-10 to around 45% in 2013. This would halve the gap between government expenditure and revenues by 2013-14 (as the Labour government proposes) and progressively close the gap thereafter."
1) There are roughly 12 million pensioners living in the UK and a further 1 million living abroad. Paying a single rate of £170 per week, and a couples rate of £300 per week, will cost £110bn per year. The basic state pension costs £56bn, and when certain other specific pensioner benefits like Pensions Credits paid to those of pension age are abolished, the total saving will be almost £70bn. For the remaining £40 billion, we would abolish tax relief on pension contributions (£20 billion), and raise a further £19 billion from abolishing employer national insurance contributions and employee national insurance rebates associated with pension schemes. The final £1 billion will come from increased income tax receipts from pensioners.
2) This proposal would involve workforce training for jobs in energy conservation and renewable energy, including grant-funded conversion courses for skilled engineers from other industries. In particular, we would spend £5 billion in the next fiscal year, creating 350 000 training places, offering opportunities to 700 000 unemployed people, in particular the young unemployed.