Lib Dems' manifesto pledges £5bn duty rise for frequent flyers

The Guardian Politics 2 weeks ago

Increasing aviation duties for frequent flyers, raising up to £5bn a year, is among policies announced by the Liberal Democrats in an election manifesto based around investment in green technologies and higher spending on public services.

The changes would be levied only on international flights and would be intended not to add to the costs of people who only take planes once or twice a year.

The 96-page manifesto, emblazoned with the phrase, “Stop Brexit”, will be formally launched by Jo Swinson later on Wednesday and details almost £63bn a year in extra public spending by the end of the next parliament in 2024/5.

The bulk of this would cover £10bn additional spending for schools, announced in advance, as well as more funding for health and social care, tackling in-work poverty, and for childcare.

A costings document released with the manifesto also shows what the party says would be almost £64bn in extra government income by 2024/5, £14bn of which is what the Lib Dems say would be a net “remain bonus” – extra GDP balanced against payments into the EU budget.

The next biggest revenue earners would be almost £8bn from a 1p addition to income tax to fund the NHS and social care, with other money from returning corporation tax to 20% and amending capital gains tax.

The next-biggest sum is an estimated £4.8bn for the reformed air passenger duties. The party would consult for a year on how this would work before introducing it.

The manifesto also commits to £130bn in infrastructure spending over the next parliament, £80bn of which would be spent on green projects such as insulating homes and sustainable transport, including an aim to spend 10% of the transport budget on walking and cycling.

Capital spending would be assessed on government balance sheets on how much “net worth” had been added, thus allowing for greater spending within the same borrowing limits, which the party has pledged to keep to 1% of GDP a year.

Infrastructure projects would also be assessed by an independent body as to whether it constituted value for money.

In extracts of the manifesto released overnight the party promised to extend the scope of free school meals, increase schools spending by more than £10bn a year within the next parliament, and recruit 20,000 more teachers.

Under the Lib Dem plan, free school meals would be extended to all junior and secondary school pupils whose family receives universal credit, costing £1.1bn a year.

The schools spending programme, which was welcomed by the main teaching union, would involve an immediate increase of £4.6bn next year, to address cuts since 2010.

The increase would gradually rise until, by 2024/25, the Lib Dems would be committing £10.6bn a year more on schools than in the 2019/20 financial year.

The extra funding would be used in part to boost the number of teachers by 20,000 over the five years, with incentives including a rise in starting salaries to £30,000 and a guaranteed annual pay rise of at least 3% a year over the parliament.

In comments released ahead of the manifesto launch, Swinson called it “a bold plan to build a brighter future for our country, and that starts with stopping Brexit”.

She said: “Labour and the Conservatives can’t offer the country a brighter future because they both want Brexit. We know that will be bad for our economy, bad for our NHS and bad for our environment.”

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