Lib Dems warn Clegg not to back Tories on welfare cuts

 

Nick Clegg has been warned by Liberal Democrat activists that he must not allow George Osborne to impose more welfare cuts in return for securing the party's long-cherished goal of a wealth tax.

The Social Liberal Forum (SLF), which is on the party's left, fears that Mr Clegg is preparing the ground for a Coalition deal under which the Lib Dems back the Chancellor's plan for £10bn of welfare cuts in return for moves towards a wealth tax such as a levy on homes worth more than £2m.

The SLF will seek to tie Mr Clegg's hands at the Lib Dems' autumn conference in Brighton, which starts a week today and has the power to decide the party's policies. It will table amendments to promote wealth taxation as "fair and economically efficient in its own right, not as a trade-off with further unfair cuts to welfare spending".

On the economy, the group will call for the Coalition to change course, proposing a "flexible approach" to fiscal policy rather than another round of "self-defeating spending cuts."

David Hall-Matthews, who chairs the SLF, said yesterday: "George Osborne's Plan A has failed. The country needs the Liberal Democrats to lead the way in changing the direction of government economic policy. We cannot afford the social costs of more welfare cuts: it is time to use taxation more to address the deficit.

"We welcome Nick Clegg's recent call for a wealth tax, which should be part of a wider attack on inequality, that we hope conference will adopt as party policy – an attack that would see greater investment in early years, greater equality of pay and power in the workplace, and ending the undue political influence of big money."

The Deputy Prime Minister is unlikely to openly distance his party from Mr Osborne's Plan A. He believes that the Coalition's economic strategy is more flexible than it is given credit for, citing plans to boost housing and infrastructure and to clear the deficit over a longer period than originally planned.

Senior Lib Dems believe some further savings on welfare are inevitable but say they will try to limit their impact on the most vulnerable people.

Mr Clegg has joined forces with Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, to propose curbs on winter fuel payments, free bus travel and TV licences for better-off pensioners, but the move has been blocked by David Cameron because he promised at the 2010 election to protect them.

The Liberal Democrat leader told Cambridge University students that he would consider coalition talks with Labour after the next election – but only if that was the message from the British people.

Displaying a lack of enthusiasm for a Lib-Lab deal, he said: "I don't buy this idea that Liberalism is somehow a subset of the Labour Party."

Unions oppose payout limit

Unions yesterday criticised Vince Cable's plans to reduce the maximum £72,300 compensation for unfair dismissal, warning that it could deter mistreated workers from making claims. The TUC welcomed the Business Secretary's decision to kill off a controversial "fire at will" proposal backed by Downing Street. Business leaders gave a broad welcome to the employment law reforms, intended to give companies confidence to recruit.

Andrew Grice

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test