The Liberal Democrats have announced a £7bn crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion.
The move was announced by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander in a speech at the party’s conference in Liverpool yesterday.
Alexander said the £900m spent on the drive would lead to an extra £7bn a year being collected in tax by the end of this parliament in 2014/15.
Last week it emerged that the UK’s tax gap created through evasion, avoidance and collection problems rose by £4bn in 2008/09 to £42bn.
He said: “We will be ruthless with those often wealthy people and businesses who think they can treat paying tax as an optional extra.To those who think the tax man will never come knocking, to those who hire accountants to dream up a clever new tax dodge, I say think again.”
Alexander said the crackdown would target those hiding money in offshore tax havens, root out 50p rate tax dodgers and bring about a fivefold increase in prosecutions.
He said: “Just as it is right to ensure that every benefit claim is fully justified, so must we ensure that every tax bill is paid in full.”
“There are some people who seem to believe that not paying their fair share of tax is a lifestyle choice that is socially acceptable. That is not true. Just like the benefit cheat, they take resources from those who need them most.”
Despite the policy announcement, Alexander’s speech was labelled as “lacklustre” by Sandra Gidley, an ex-LibDem MP who lost her Romsey and Southampton North seat in the election.
Writing on Twitter she said the speech was “strangely lacking in passion. Cannot believe some people stood at the end. Politeness?”.