On Wednesday 20th October 2010, the Coalition Government set out a clear plan to deal rapidly with the worst financial position this country has faced for generations. With the largest budget deficit in Europe and spending more than £100 million a day on servicing our debt - enough to build a primary school every single hour, or triple the number of doctors working in our hospitals – there was simply no choice.
The Coalition Government has had to make hard choices that affect millions of people and Liberal Democrat ministers have fought hard to ensure that the burden of the challenge ahead is shared fairly.
They have spread the burden fairly by protecting the key services that the most vulnerable in our society rely on. Social Care has been given a funding boost worth £2bn, the NHS and schools have been protected and our plans for social housing will deliver up to 150,000 new affordable homes. The Coalition Government will be spending more than £700bn on public services - the same as in 2006.
They have promoted future fairness through a £7 billion ‘fairness premium’ that will support improving the life chances of our poorest children from their first pair of shoes to their first pay packet. The Coalition Government is also investing more than £1 billion into a regional growth fund.
We have promoted future growth by giving the go ahead to key transport projects that will unlock economic potential in every part of the country. We have also delivered on a Green Investment Bank that will kick start green investment, with at least £2 billion for low-carbon technology, and generate jobs.
As part of the Coalition Government the Liberal Democrats have ensured that those with the broadest shoulders will bear the biggest burden. That’s why we have already reduced taxes for the low paid, and increased them for the richest. It’s why we introduced a banking levy – and we’ve made it our aim to extract the maximum sustainable tax revenues from the banks that got us into this mess. On child benefit, capital gains and tax evasion and avoidance - this government is making the well off pay their share. And for those services that matter most to the vulnerable in our society, such as health and social care and early years education, spending is being protected.
The Liberal Democrats as part of the Coalition Government will continue pushing forward with radical reform. We will deliver welfare reforms that simplify the system and make work pay. And our criminal justice reforms will roll out the community justice programmes that were pioneered by Liberal Democrats in local government.
The Liberal Democrats believe that in the current financial circumstances the review is one that promotes fairness, underpins growth, reduces carbon emissions and localises power. Difficult decisions have been taken but they are the right choices to set our country back on the road to prosperity.