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Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has made education a focus of his party’s election manifesto, promising at extra £2.5bn a year by 2020.
Highlights of the 157-page document include:
Economy and taxation
• Eradicate the structural current budget deficit by 2017/18 and have debt falling as a percentage of national income
• Raise the income tax threshold to £12,500 during the next parliament, bringing forward a planned increase to £11,000 to April 2016.
• Raise the national insurance threshold to the income tax threshold.
• Restrict access to non-dom status, increasing the associated charges and removing the ability to pass it on to children.
• Introduce an unspecified time-limited supplementary corporation tax charge on the banking sector.
• A graduated mansion tax on properties worth more than £2m
• Expand the British Business Bank and promote a new community banking sector
• No increase in headline rates of income tax, VAT or corporation tax
• Give higher status to the tourism sector by strengthening the Hospitality and Tourism Council
• Create a dedicated unit in HM Revenue & Customs for medium-sized businesses
• Extra funding will finance a qualified teacher in every classroom, help schools offer more one-to-one and small group tuition and expand early years education as pupil numbers grow
• Establish an independent Educational Standards Authority
• Write into law the “triple lock”, whereby the state pension increases each year by whichever is higher — wage growth, inflation or 2.5 per cent
• Introduce a 1 per cent cap on the annual rise in working-age benefits until the budget is balanced in 2017/18
• Extend 15 hours of free childcare to parents of all two-year olds, give 20 hours of free childcare a week to all parents of children aged two to four, and extend paternity leave to a month
• Offer discounted bus passes to 16-21 year olds.
• An additional £8bn a year for the National Health Service in England by 2020 and more money for the rest of the UK
• Invest £500m in mental healthcare
• Set a legally binding decarbonisation target to reduce energy demand by 50 per cent by 2030
• Introduce a scheme whereby monthly rent payments go towards tenants buying a stake in their properties
• Introduce a scheme to help young people rent their first home
• Increase housebuilding to 300,000 homes a year
• Cap rail fare rises to the rate of inflation over the time of the parliament
• Devolve more economic decision-making
• Proceed with the High Speed 2 rail link as the first stage of a high-speed network to Scotland
• Extend Freedom of Information laws to cover private companies delivering public services
• Introduce a digital bill of rights