8 Apr 2015
By Ruth Davidson (The Evening Times – 08 April 2015)
ON Monday, many of us had reason to celebrate.
Not only was it a Bank Holiday – and sunny one too – it was also Tartan Day on the other side of the Atlantic.
But just as importantly, and you might have to bear with me here, Monday marked the beginning of the first full week of the new financial year.
Granted, this doesn’t normally set pulses racing – but thanks to the decisions taken by the UK Government, this year maybe it should.
Because Monday was the date when changes to the tax system came into force.
Once again – as has been the case in each and every year since the UK Government came to power – there has been an increase in the amount of money you can earn before you start paying income tax.
Today, the Personal Allowance stands at £10,600 and, as the Prime Minister has stated, a future Conservative government was go even further and raise the threshold to £12,500 – almost double the rate we inherited five years ago.
What this means, is that more money now stays in the pockets of those who earn it.
In all, over 2.32 million Scots have seen their taxes cut by this UK Government and it is those on the lowest incomes that have benefited most.
Indeed, thanks to the increases in the Personal Allowance we have lifted 261,000 people out of tax altogether and reduced the average tax bill by £825.
How this contrasts with the system we inherited from Labour; a system where it didn’t pay to work and that took too big a slice of hard-earned wages.
Rather than go back to that approach – the bad old days of financial mismanagement and economic decline – my party wants to build on the achievements of the last five years and further strengthen our economy.
I am proud of the fact that under this government employment in Scotland is up by 174,000 and that there are now 56,700 fewer people claiming benefits.
That we have scrapped fuel duty rises – saving motorists an average of £9 each and every time they go to the pumps.
And that we have protected pensioner incomes by maintaining the triple lock, ensuring that the state pension goes up by whichever is higher – inflation, wages or 2.5%.
This is our record; achievements that have made a real and lasting difference to people’s lives.
Thanks to the tough choices taken by the UK Government, the deficit is down, a record number of people are in work and we have the fastest growing major economy in the world.
None of this happened by chance and, in just over four weeks, we mustn’t put it in jeopardy by handing Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street – allowing the very people that crashed the car to get back behind the wheel.