Last week’s announcement on the devolution to Wales of income tax by the Chancellor presents us with an opportunity to break the mould, to think radically and offer a new vision. A new Wales.
Powers over income tax will inject responsibility into the heart of Welsh government. For too long, government in Wales has been nothing more than a spending shop. This is a game-changing opportunity and I want every Welsh family and every Welsh business to benefit. I’m fiercely passionate that the best form of motivation to improve our economy is to ensure as much of the hard-earned money taken home by people across Wales is kept where it belongs - in their pockets. A greater incentive to those who leave their homes every day to work on our factory floors, on our high streets and in our offices.
Of course, we require taxation for the delivery of our public services but the political ‘left’ would simply like to chokehold as much of your money in government coffers as possible. It’s a simple ideological difference – I believe the best way to motivate, improve and deliver prosperity for our country is by letting the taxpayer keep more of their pay. The left thinks the opposite. And ironically, by implementing lower tax rates, you will in fact grow the tax base you can access by encouraging men and women to create more wealth.
While Labour continues to manage decline in Wales and ignore the possibilities presented by this ground-breaking change, my party will embrace them. Welsh Conservatives will stand for next year’s ‘Welsh General Election’ as the Low Tax Party of Wales. We want to create an incentivised working environment that rewards people who are willing to create business and assist in the regeneration of our economy.
Our radical plans for income tax will be based on the fundamental principle of delivering more take-home pay for every family in Wales. Lowering taxes for hardworking families is the number one priority and it’s crucial that we look closely at the basic rate where we can deliver further support for workers.
But we wouldn’t stop there. It’s also important to look at the arguments for supporting a cut in the aspirational rate. 17 years of Labour rule in Wales have left our country at the bottom of economic league tables and that’s simply not good enough. We need radical thinking and a cut to that rate has the potential to benefit business and create job opportunities. A new Wales.
I believe it is hugely important to create a financial advantage for Wales in comparison to our counterparts in the rest of the United Kingdom. Five pence off the aspirational rate of income tax for example, would create enough of a variation to say – Croeso i Gymru: Wales Is Open For Business. We want you here and we want you on Welsh soil, creating jobs and making money. Whether the basic or aspirational rates of income tax, Wales now has a huge opportunity to ensure everyone benefits from more money in their pockets.
Huge change is on the horizon and my message to people across Wales is clear. Low Tax. More take-home pay. A new Wales. This is a wonderful opportunity for us and we must grasp it with both hands.
Andrew RT Davies is Assembly Member for South Wales Central and Leader of the Welsh Conservative Group.
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