4m to benefit from Cable income tax proposal

By Alex Stevenson

Four million more low-paid workers and pensioners would be exempt from paying income tax under Liberal Democrat plans unveiled by Vince Cable.

The party’s Treasury spokesperson used his keynote speech to the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth to announce an increase in the lower income tax threshold to £10,000.

He believes those earning the minimum wage or little above it should not be “dragged into the tax net”.

“It would be dishonest and unbelievable for me to say that taxes overall should never rise. But the Liberal Democrats’ starting point is to aim for fairer not higher taxes. I would do this by lifting tax thresholds, providing an incentive to work and to save,” he said

However, the proposals were criticised by London mayor Boris Johnson who said: “Cable’s spending proposals were as unsettling as the killer rabbit in Monty Python.”

Mr Cable admitted the task of implementing the “savage” cuts called for by Nick Clegg is unlikely to be easy or popular.

But he outlined a range of measures, some more likely to be controversial among Lib Dem delegates than others.

Scrapping Britain’s nuclear deterrent Trident and “vast central government databases” like ID cards were welcomed with warm applause.

But freezing public sector pay and pensions and limiting tax credits for the middle classes met with a cooler response.

Unison already lambasted the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman for the policy.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “Freezing the pay of hard working nurses, care workers, paramedics cooks and cleaners is hitting the wrong target.

“The Liberal Democrats would make public service workers the victims of collateral damage, for the financial mess that the bankers and financiers have done to this country.”

Mr Cable launched a scathing attack on the Conservatives, criticising their “arrogant” assumption they will “cruise into Downing St without anyone noticing”.

He criticised their “political cynicism”, adding: “They pose as tough guys cutting spending sooner and deeper than anyone else. But we have just exposed them as committed to a massive £53 billion of extra spending – more than the total defence budget.

“If we did that we would be accused of being fantasists or dishonest.”