Clegg did, nonetheless, say that he is proud that the government is on track to raise the allowance over the course of this parliament, which is scheduled to dissolve in 2015. This, Clegg stressed, will mean basic rate taxpayers paying GBP700 less in income tax each year, or around GBP60 per month. The 2010 Budget increased the threshold from GBP6,475 to GBP7,475, and in April it will rise again, by GBP630. According to Clegg, this will mean that 1.1m people will no longer pay income tax at all.
However, in spite of these achievements, Clegg believes the government has not gone far enough. He argued: "I want to make clear that I want the Coalition to go further and faster in delivering the full GBP10,000. Because, bluntly, the pressure on family finances is reaching boiling point. Compared to those at the top, these families have seen their earnings in decline for a decade and that’s got worse since 2008 with lower real wages and fewer hours at work."
Clegg fears that "household budgets are approaching a state of emergency and the government needs a rapid response". He admits that accelerating the process of change will need to be fully funded. Raising borrowing would merely represent "extra taxation deferred", and would undermine the government's "success in restoring stability and credibility to the public finances".
For Clegg, there is therefore an urgent need to rebalance the UK's tax system. Changes, such as the introduction of a General Anti-Avoidance Rule, would help, along with a crack down on stamp duty avoidance at the higher end of property sales. Improvements directed at making the tax system more "green" also need to be considered.
However, Clegg's main focus is on "serious, unearned wealth".
"We still live in a society where, for so many people how much you earn can never compete with how much others own," he said."Our tax system entrenches that divide and we need to be bold enough to shift the burden right up to the top".
On Clegg's agenda is the Liberal Democrat's old favourite, the mansion tax. He said: "I know the mansion tax is controversial but who honestly believes it is right that an oligarch pays just double the Council Tax of an average homeowner even if their house is worth one hundred times as much? And who seriously thinks we would kill aspiration through a levy on the 0.1% of the population who own GBP2m homes?"
He pledged: "The mansion tax is right, it makes sense and I will continue to make the case for it. I’m going to stick to my guns."
Concluding, Clegg said: "My choice is clear: I want to help the hard-pressed and the hardworking. If that means asking more from those at the top – so be it."