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Charles Kennedy, Liberal Democrat leader
"It's 3.8bn and with that you can do a lot that's not happening at the moment"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 February, 2001, 12:06 GMT
Lib Dems demand 'budget for health'
nurses make a bed
Some nurses could receive an extra 1000 a year
The Liberal Democrats have called for a big boost for the National Health Service in their "alternative budget" unveiled on Monday.

Their proposals include providing an extra 3,300 training places for doctors and an additional 11,400 for nurses and midwives over five years.

They also want low-paid nurses and midwives to be given an average pay rise of 1,000 a year.

Other proposals, published in advance of Chancellor Gordon Brown's 7 March budget, include:

  • Providing 11,000 extra hospital beds over five years to cut waiting times.

  • Injecting an extra 500m into dental services.

  • Restoring free NHS eye and dental check-ups for all.

  • Paying for all long-term personal care for the elderly so they no longer have to sell their homes to pay for their care.

New top tax rate

The Lib Dems say the programme would be funded from part of the revenue from a new 50% top tax rate on income above 100,000 and from capital gains tax changes.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, said: "Ours is a budget for investment in health, education and better pensions and we explain exactly how it will be paid for.

"People know that you can't get something for nothing. The other parties can't keep pretending that you can cut taxes without cutting public services."

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy: "Boost for health"
The Liberal Democrats are also pledging there will be no new "stealth taxes" if they were to win the forthcoming general election.

They are promising an annual citizen's tax contract, to be sent to every taxpayer each year, spelling out exactly what taxes people are paying, what the money is being spent on and any tax changes since the last contract.

'Stealth taxes'

Treasury spokesman Matthew Taylor said the contract had made Lib Dems the first party to forego the option of "stealth taxes", which he said boosted the total tax-take but went largely unnoticed by voters because they did not affect income tax.

The Lib Dems are committed to raising top-rate income tax on earnings above 100,000 by 10p to 50p in the pound, and have said, if the economic climate makes it necessary, they would raise the basic rate by 1p to pay for education investment.

They are also proposing, if resources allow, to scrap the 10p lower rate, taking 1.5 million low-paid workers out of income tax altogether.

'Wish list'

But the Lib Dem proposals were attacked by shadow chancellor Michael Portillo as an "uncosted wish list".

"When it comes to paying for all their services, the tax rises they admit to would be just the tip of the iceberg," he said

"The Lib Dems are out of touch with hard-working families, savers and pensioners who are paying too much tax.

"Where Labour raises taxes by stealth, the Lib Dems raise them by design.

"It is clearer than ever that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for higher taxes."

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Brown rules out Budget giveaway
15 Feb 01 | Online 1000
Voters' Budget wish-list
21 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Tories back 'stay at home' parents
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