LibDem manifesto would mean extra £1.5bn for Scotland, says Cole-Hamilton

The UK Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto on Monday with a pledge to raise nearly £27bn in tax.

Win for UK Liberal Democrats at general election would mean extra £1.5bn for Scotland, says Alex Cole-Hamilton Getty Images

The UK Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto with a pledge to take the UK back into the European Single Market and hike taxes by nearly £27bn to fund major investments into health, social care and public services.

Ed Davey put a £9.4bn-a-year package for the NHS and social care in England at the heart of his party’s general election manifesto, funded by a tax raid on banks and the super-rich.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex-Cole-Hamilton – whose party is yet to launch its own manifesto – said the proposals would mean an extra £1.5bn for Scotland.

The UK manifesto also committed to reversing one of the major Brexit decisions by placing the “UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing” by rejoining the single market, resulting in the return of free movement.

The party plans to fund its promises with a series of tax rises which amount to £26.7bn in 2028-29, including:

  • “Reversing Tory tax cuts” for banks, restoring bank surcharge and bank levy revenues to 2016 levels in real terms
  • Increasing the Digital Services Tax on social media firms and other tech giants from 2% to 6%.
  • Reforming capital gains tax – paid on profits from selling an asset – to “close loopholes exploited by the super-wealthy”
  • Introducing a 4% tax on the share buyback schemes of FTSE-100 listed companies, to incentivise investment, job creation and economic growth.
  • A “proper” windfall tax on oil and gas giants.
  • A “super tax” on private jet travel and the removal of VAT exemptions for private, first-class and business-class flight.

As an Abba classic played at the manifesto launch in London, Davey urged voters to “Take A Chance” on him.

The manifesto features a “four-stage roadmap” for the UK’s relationship with its European neighbours.

“Once ties of trust and friendship have been renewed and the damage the Conservatives have caused to trade between the UK and EU has begun to be repaired, we would aim to place the UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the single market,” the manifesto reads.

This process would begin with “initial unilateral steps to rebuild the relationship, starting by declaring a fundamental change in the UK’s approach and improving channels for foreign policy co-operation”.

But at the core of the Lib Dems’ pitch to voters is the package of health and care pledges in England.

Davey, himself a carer for his 16-year-old son John, launched his manifesto by telling audiences about his own experience.

He said: “The truth is, unless we properly value care, unless we properly support carers, we will never be able to fix the crisis in our NHS or get our economy back on track.

“And that’s why I’m so proud the Liberal Democrats have put health and care at the heart of our campaign in this General Election, and at the heart of our manifesto too.”

The party would recruit or retain 8,000 extra GPs in England to give a right to be seen by a doctor within seven days.

‘LibDem election success would mean extra £1.5bn for Scotland’, says leader’

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats said a win for his party across the UK would represent a “big positive” investment in Scotland.

Cole-Hamilton said Davey’s policies money would result in an extra £1.5bn in public spending north of the border.

He said he wanted to see the cash used to “save the NHS, fix the care crisis and lift Scottish education back up the international rankings”.

Cole-Hamilton hit out at how the Tories had “badly mismanaged the economy and made the cost-of-living crisis worse for everyone”.

But he added: “The SNP Government has shown that it cannot be trusted to spend your money wisely and that it is totally unable to get the basics right for our public services.

“It’s time for a change and in so many parts of the country we have shown that it is the Liberal Democrats who can beat the SNP and Conservatives.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the announcement from Ed Davey would amount to £1.5bn more in cash for Scotland.Getty Images

At the UK manifesto launch in London, Davey promised to help with the cost of living through an £8.4bn home energy upgrade programme, a national food strategy and “careful economic management” to get mortgage interest rates under control.

He promised to maintain the triple lock on the state pension, in a similar move to Labour and the Conservatives, and pledged to ensure women born in the 1950s who have been affected by pension age changes are “treated fairly and properly compensated”.

On political reform, Davey told the launch his party would end the first-past-the-post voting system in favour of “fair votes with proportional representation”.

He said this would also involve “getting big money out of politics with a cap on donations to political parties, shifting power out of the centre”.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said there were “clear risks” that the Liberal Democrats’ tax plans would not raise the £27bn that they hope.

IFS director Paul Johnson said: “By focusing on taxing banks, energy companies and tech giants, many of these tax rises are intended to look ‘victimless’ – but of course they are not.

“We are already raising more from taxing companies than at any time in decades. Moreover, there are clear risks that their package of tax measures would not raise the £27bn a year that they claim.

“And some of the tax raising measures are an economically bad idea. We should not, for example, be taxing share buybacks.”

The Lib Dems have focused their campaigning efforts in the so-called blue wall of Tory-held seats.

But Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden said: “A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to put Keir Starmer in Downing Street.”

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