Britain's super wealthy will be told to cough up more in taxes to help drag the country out of the double-dip recession and up towards recovery as the government attempts to erase the deficit in public finances, said Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister has said.
Clegg has opened another battlefront with his Conservative coalition partners, who were the driving force behind cutting the top rate of income tax to 45 percent in the Budget, ahead of party conference season.
"If we want to remain cohesive and prosperous as a society, people of very considerable personal wealth have got to make a bit of an extra contribution," Clegg told the Guardian.
"The action is making sure that very high asset wealth is reflected in the tax system in the way that it isn't now, making sure that we continue to crack down very hard on tax avoidance, making sure that tax breaks don't go disproportionately to people at the very top."
This additional tax would be a "time-limited contribution", Clegg said, and would be on top of the Lib Dems' policy of a mansion tax on properties worth over £2m.
Since it took office in May 2010 the coalition government has pursued stinging public austerity measures to pay down the deficit in its finances left behind by the previous Labour administration's 13 years in control of the country.
While initially enjoying public support, as these austerity cuts, which have fallen across many local and national government services, start to bite and the country is stuck into its second recession in four years, many are losing patience with the coalition over the economy.
Rich over poor
The government, particularly in light of tax cuts for the highest earners and corporations while welfare handouts and public services are slashed for the most vulnerable in society, has been accused of favouring the rich over the poor.
"If we are going to ask people for more sacrifices over a longer period of time, a longer period of belt tightening as a country, then we just have to make sure that people see it is being done as fairly and as progressively as possible," Clegg said.
"While I am proud of some of the things we have done as a government we need to hardwire fairness into what we do in the next phases of fiscal restraint. If we don't do that I don't think the process will be either socially or politically sustainable or acceptable."
Clegg added that the government was locked in a "longer economic war rather than a short economic battle".
Several cracks have appeared in the coalition in recent months, with clashes over the Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms, Britain's relationship with Europe, and House of Lords reform.