I am proud that the Lib Dems in government from 2010 to 2015 won the fight to increase the income tax threshold from £6,475 to £10,000 and pledged to increase it further to £12,500 was in our 2015 manifesto.
But without collecting taxes, we cannot afford to pay for public services, which are particularly important to low-income households, so as well as increasing tax-free allowances, I think it's also important to push employers to pay decent wages.
In 2010, the Conservatives wanted to introduce "regional pay", meaning that doctors, nurses, teachers, Police and everyone else in the public sector would be paid less in low-wage areas like Cornwall. Blocking this was a massive victory for the Lib Dems, but one which is rarely remembered these days. From 2013 to 2017, Lib Dems on Cornwall Council increased the wages of all employees to the "Foundation Living Wage" and since I was elected to Cornwall Council in 2017 we have started to extend this contract to all of our service providers. This means that all care workers funded by the Council now earn at least £9.30 per hour instead of £8.21. This will be rolled out to cover the refuse collection workers on their new contract next year, and by 2021 it will cover everyone working in Council-funded roles (even if they are not directly employed by the council).
The private sector has started to respond to this, with several large employers now offering £10 per hour to try and attract staff away from the Council. This all means more money in the pockets of Cornish workers, and more income tax to fund public services.
The Lib Dem manifesto also calls for a 20% premium on the minimum wage for anyone on a zero-hours contract.
Finally, I would also like to see a reform of Universal Credit to reduce the withdrawal rate, so workers keep more of the money they earn.
The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that if the Conservatives keep their promise not to increase Income Tax or VAT, they will not be able to keep their promises on spending, and the Labour party's claim that "only the top 5% of earners will pay more" is misleading because there will be lots of other tax rises apart from income tax. The IFS also says that Lib Dem policies will have the biggest benefit for the lowest earners.
Only the Liberal Democrats are being honest in saying that if everyone wants better public services, everyone will have to do their bit to pay for them.