It's been a tough year– but 2011 will be better

Pompey's promotion pitch invasion

CLIVE SMITH: I need to do some work on my hurdling technique

It's been a dramatic year politically with the General Election and the formation of the coalition.

Labour had maxed out the nation's credit card and their treasury minister left his successor a note saying: 'Sorry – there is no money left.

'Good luck!'

But against this tough background, progress is being made on Lib Dem policies to make things fairer for pensioners, the lower paid and school pupils.

Next April, the point at which you start paying income tax will rise by 1,000.

Almost one million people won't pay income tax and most basic rate taxpayers will be saved 200 a year.

And the 'pupil premium' will see 6.5 million extra for Portsmouth schools over the next four years.

The state pension will again be linked to the average rise in earnings which is normally more than inflation.

But if it is less, then there will be a guaranteed rise every year of inflation, or of at least 2.5 per cent.

That's at least 4 a week for a couple – whereas one year Labour put the pension up by only a miserly 75p a week.

This month, I voted against the increase in university tuition fees.

There are some good things about the proposals.

It's still the case that no-one pays fees up front.

The amount someone pays after graduation will now be less per month – nine per cent on earnings above 21,000 a year as supposed to above 15,000 now.

This will reduce payments by 540 in a specific year for all new graduates earning over 21,000 – although they will probably go on paying for longer.

Taken over 30 years, the extra amount is about 300 a year, or 6 a week.

Those graduating in 2015 will see this more than offset by the tax saving from increasing the personal allowance.

But I believe that education, including university education, should at the very least be a burden shared between the government and students.

On that basis I pledged to vote against an increase in tuition fees and did.

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