Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has issued a challenge to Ed Miliband and David Cameron to outline how they plan to reduce the deficitReuters

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has outlined plans on how the Lib Dems will eliminate the UK's deficit by 2017/18 and issued a challenge to his Conservative and Labour rivals to do the same.

Speaking at a press conference in Westminster, Clegg oushed the Liberal Democrats' key election message: to cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour. He also said his party has a plan to balance the books with "a heart as well as a brain".

With just 25 days to go before the UK general election on 7 May, Clegg has made an unprecedented political move by setting out his future economic plans in detail and issued a similar invitation to his counterparts.

"The Liberal Democrats will create a stronger economy and fairer society, cutting less than the Conservatives and borrowing less than Labour," Mr Clegg said. "Our approach is fairer, more balanced, more responsible and more progressive."

Lib Dem plans

Clegg's plans include £12bn in departmental savings, £3bn in welfare savings, £5bn in tax rises and £7bn in cutting tax avoidance.

The Lib Dem leader was frank in his address and conceded that the first two years following the election will not be easy.

The measures proposed include:

  • Introduction of a High Value Property Levy on properties worth more than £2m. This would raise £1bn.
  • Increased charges of non-dom residents, raising £135m.
  • The removal of free TV licences for higher tax payers.
  • Raising the personal income tax allowance to £12,500 by 2020.

Mr Clegg also vowed to protect NHS funds and add a further £1bn to the health service.

"When we entered government, the Labour party left us a note saying 'there's no money left' and still refuse to apologise for crashing the economy," said Clegg. "Five years on, the Liberal Democrats have started to turn this around in a fair and balanced way. But there is more to do to finish the job.

"Labour want to run the country on a credit card, borrowing £70bn more than the Liberal Democrats, threatening our economic recovery and burdening future generations with piles of debt. They were irresponsible then, and are being irresponsible now.

"The Conservatives are no better. They want to deviate massively from the coalition Government's spending plans and instead want to savagely cut welfare by £12bn, singling out the most vulnerable people in this country to bear the pain of balancing the books."