Nick Clegg has promised to continue ‘championing Sheffield’s corner’ – as he told The Star of the coalition’s achievements in its first three years.
The Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister spoke in the wake of the latest major Government funding announcement – this time £10 million towards Sheffield University’s plan to create the world’s most advanced ‘research factory’.
Mr Clegg said: “The aim of this coalition is very simple – to build a strong economy and a fairer society so that, whoever you are, you can get ahead in life.
“However, you can’t have greater fairness for Sheffield unless you do a good repair job of the economic car crash we inherited from Labour when they let the banks put a gun to the country’s head back in 2008.
“I think the signs are that we have managed to point Sheffield towards a better future.
“Only this week we have announced funding towards creating the world’s most advanced research factory – and there’s more.”
Mr Clegg was keen to repeat achievements such as the high speed rail line, approval of £2 billion towards resurfacing all of Sheffield’s roads, extra cash for poor pupils in schools through the pupil premium and increased apprenticeships.
The Government has faced criticism over very high levels of youth unemployment, which topped one million last year.
But he said: “Youth unemployment has recently fallen by 12 per cent. We have also given more money to help disadvantaged youngsters through the pupil premium and we are creating more apprenticeships.
“We are creating a better future, more opportunities and sorting out our infrastructure, too.
“Sheffield has received funding for road repairs and electrification of the Midland Main Line railway.”
Mr Clegg also defended the Government’s record against claims by Labour and the trade unions that millionaires were being given favourable treatment with a cut in the top rate of tax from 50 pence to 45 pence in the pound.
He said: “For almost all of the period when Labour was in power, the rate was 40 pence.
“The rich are paying more tax than they did under the last Labour government.
“We have imposed a levy on the banks which is bringing in much more money than the one-off tax on bankers’ bonuses under Labour.
“We have also increased capital gains tax on sale of shares by 10 per cent.
“It is untrue to say we are giving the rich an easy ride – they are being asked to pay their fair share.”
He attacked Labour for reversing its position opposing benefit cuts – after ‘vilifying’ Liberal Democrats over the issue.
Mr Clegg said: “I want Labour to apologise for vilifying members of my party remorselessly.
“They also opposed the welfare cap which means no family should receive more than £35,000 each year – which is a perfectly reasonable amount. Now they’ve changed their mind.”