COPELAND’S four general election candidates have been quizzed on three key issues around taxes – welfare and how they propose to protect the most vulnerable members of society; business rates; and how they propose to support working families. Here’s what they had to say.


Trudy Harrison (Conservative): Labour left office leaving record debt, high unemployment and a country in tatters. With a stronger economy we are now able to increase Universal Credit and Job Seekers Allowance by 1.7 per cent from April. Record employment (76.1 per cent), wages growing at a faster rate than inflation since March 2018, means £1bn extra funding every year, for social care and £74m over three years for people with learning disabilities and autism.

We guarantee to increase the state pension and will continue winter fuel payment and the older person’s bus pass.

Tony Lywood (Labour): Labour will scrap the disastrously inhumane Universal Credit system introduced by the Conservatives. Copeland Citizens Advice Bureau have highlighted how the cruel “sanctions” system has hit the most vulnerable members of our society. Those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities have really suffered.

We will scrap the dehumanising “Work Capability “ checks and PIP assessments which repeatedly and falsely find ill or disabled people “fit for work”.

Let’s treat our most vulnerable citizens with dignity, not contempt.

John Studholme (Liberal Democrat): The Lib Dems will reduce the date of the first payments for Universal Credit from five weeks to five days and be more supportive of the self-employed.

We will increase the resources to the NHS and Social Care and pay for this by putting an extra penny on income tax, ring-fenced for this purpose .

The triple lock will be kept on the state pension so that it will rise each year by at least 2.5 per cent.

Jack Lenox (Green Party): The Green Party is the only major political party that has consistently campaigned against austerity since the 2008 financial crash. Our policy of a Universal Basic Income, an unconditional weekly payment to everyone at a level above their subsistence needs, will tackle poverty and give financial security to everyone.

Business rates

Trudy Harrison: We are cutting business rates for small businesses by 50 per cent in 2020/21 which is an increase from the original pledge of 33 per cent. The Conservatives have also cut Corporation Tax from 26 per cent to 19 per cent – every cut in Corporation Tax has resulted in higher tax income.

Tony Lywood: The online giants must pay their share of tax, this will help us fund a fairer business rate system.

We will support our independent shops,markets and pubs which are vital to the future of our town centres in Copeland.

John Studholme: Business taxation must be simplified to lower admin costs for smaller companies. The Liberal Democrats are proposing a radical reform of business rates. Instead of basing rates on rental values and being paid by tenants, they will be replaced by a commercial landowner tax

based on the value of the site only.

The tax will apply to unused and derelict commercial land.

Jack Lenox: Our policy is to abolish council tax and business rates and replace them with a Land Value Tax. This new tax would be paid by landowners and would lift millions of renters and business tenants out of property taxes altogether.

Working families

Trudy Harrison: We raised the tax-free allowance to £12,500. We will raise the threshold at which National Insurance is paid to £9,500 next year, and hope to increase that to £12,000 by the end of Parliament.

An extra 250,000 childcare places for primary school age children will be provided.

Tony Lywood: Too many working families in Copeland are having it tough.Wages have flat-lined; many jobs are poorly paid and insecure.

Nobody who works should be living in poverty. Labour will introduce a £10 minimum wage; end zero-hour contracts; and provide free school meals and nursery education to help Copeland working families.

Building Moorside will also bring good paying jobs to Copeland.

John Studholme: There has been a massive increase recently in zero hours contracts. The Liberal Democrats will give a 20 per cent rise in recipients’ minimum wage to counter insecurity.

We will provide free high-quality childcare from nine months to children of working parents and for all children aged between two and four.

Jack Lenox: Alongside a Universal Basic Income, we have manifesto commitments to introduce rent controls on private tenancies which reflect average local income rates, we will end no-fault evictions, and we will retrofit one million existing homes and other buildings a year so that they reach the highest standard of energy efficiency, significantly reducing heating bills.