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November 24, 2008 10:27 PM

The Chancellor should have cut income tax to make the tax system permanently fairer, say the Liberal Democrats.

Gordon Brown has missed a "golden opportunity" to reform the tax system and the VAT cuts would not be enough to boost consumer spending.

Vince Cable, Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor, said: "The Government acknowledges that the UK tax system is inherently unfair, but then announces that it will hit those struggling to make ends meet with yet higher tax bills by increasing National Insurance.

"Everyone earning over £19,000 will be hit.

"The new 45p Income Tax rate is nothing more than a fig leaf to cover a £5bn tax hike which will hit millions of low earners and businesses.

"The Government has missed a golden opportunity to make the tax system permanently fairer which it could have done by cutting income taxes for those on low and middle incomes, paid for by getting rid of tax loopholes for the wealthy.

"Instead of increasing investment in sustainable capital projects which benefit the country tomorrow as well as today, the Government has opted for a temporary cut in VAT which will benefit big spenders the most and not give the economy the boost it needs.

"At a time of economic emergency, Gordon Brown has once again failed those who need help the most."