Autumn Budget 2017: Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable reveals great youth giveaway funded by a wealth tax

 
Catherine Neilan
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The Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference In Bournemouth
Source: Getty

The Liberal Democrats are looking into a wealth tax that it would use to fund a grant for all young people to help pay for further education or adult learning.

Leader Vince Cable today revealed the party was backing the idea of "a generous and ambitious learning account of, say, £18,000", available to every young person when they turn 16 or 18, as a way to help rebalance intergenerational inequality. He said it was "a better proposal than populist gestures like cuts in tuition fees and freezing rents", which the Conservatives have put forward.

The proposal would cost £14bn a year, or around 0.3 per cent of net household financial and property assets.

Cable said today: "It is not difficult to see how a modest tax on personal net wealth, above a certain threshold, could generate substantial sums. We shall investigate how best to do this."

The announcement was one of several made during the former business secretary's alternative Budget. Other suggestions included increasing funding for the NHS and social care by £6.5bn through a 1p increase in income tax.

Cable said he would also roll back austerity measures such as freezing housing benefit and switching to universal credit by cancelling several tax cuts made since 2015, notably to capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

Cable was speaking on the same day NHS chief executive Simon Stevens made an impassioned plea to give the country's creaking health service more funds.

Stevens cited the £350m a week claim made by the Vote Leave campaign - although did not explicitly request the same amount.

But he said trust in democracy “will not be strengthened” if chancellor Philip Hammond claims economic turbulence caused by Brexit means he cannot promise extra cash for the NHS in the Budget, which will be revealed on 22 November.

Stevens said: "You voted Brexit, partly for a better funded health service. But precisely because of Brexit, you now can’t have one."

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