Liberal Democrat manifesto promises to scrap George Osborne's benefits freeze

Posted On: 
17th May 2017

The Liberal Democrats would scrap the freeze on working age benefits imposed by George Osborne if elected to government, the party announced today.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron
Credit: 
PA Images

In its manifesto the party promised to “uprate working age benefits at least in line with inflation” - a plan which it says will cost £3.3bn.

The document said: “Balancing the books on the backs of the poor and disabled, and demonising people who claim benefits, is neither acceptable nor responsible.”

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Tim Farron will launch the manifesto - which includes plans for a referendum on the final Brexit deal and some £100bn of infrastructure investment - in central London tonight.

His plan to scrap the Tory benefit freeze emerged after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn mired his own party in confusion on the issue yesterday.

Mr Corbyn appeared to make the same commitment - despite it not being in his own manifesto - before U-turning within a matter of hours.

But the Liberal Democrat manifesto clearly states that they would raise benefits as well as abandon the Tory restriction that child benefits can only be claimed for the first two kids born.

It also promises to reverse cuts to employment and support allowance, universal credit and housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, alongside a plan to scrap the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.

The party estimates its entire package of benefits changes will cost £9.3bn up until 2019-20.

“The Liberal Democrats are clear – balancing the books on the backs of the poor and disabled, and demonising people who claim benefits, is neither acceptable nor responsible,” the manifesto said.

“Although all government budgets must be scrutinised to minimise waste and ensure value for money, this must not be used as an excuse to attack the poor and vulnerable.

“In any case it is more effective to tackle the causes of the benefits bill – low pay, high rents, unemployment and ill-health.”

THERESA MAY'S 'MISERABLE VISION'

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “You don’t have to agree with me on everything.

“But the danger of an arrogant government that doesn’t have to listen to us is apparent to everyone, wherever you live in Britain.

“We don’t share Theresa May’s miserable vision. Liberal Democrats are passionate about building a Britain that is open, tolerant and united – that celebrates the very best of what it means to be British.”

Elsewhere the manifesto promises to increase income tax by 1p to raise £6bn for health and social care. It also pledges £7bn for schools and colleges and 300,000 new homes every year.

And it vows to legalise cannabis, bring in 50,000 Syrian refugees, hand entrepreneurs £100 a week and scrap the public sector pay cap.

Total borrowing under the party's plans is forcecast to be £40bn by 2019-20, compared with £21bn under the Government's current proposals.

But the Lib Dems argue that tax receipts would rise to 37.9% of GDP compared to 37.2% under the Tories' plans.