Our manifesto for the 2017 General Election is full of ideas for change which will lead to a fairer, more caring, more supportive nation
Having been involved with the production of our manifesto as a member of the Federal Policy Committee you might guess that I am pleased with the result. You would right. You can see it in detail if you look on to the national Lib Dems website www.libdems.org.uk. Change Britain’s Future is a plan for a fairer Britain where people are decent to each other, with good schools and hospitals, a clean environment and an innovative economy.
Nothing is more important to our children’s future than Brexit. A bad Brexit deal, with Britain outside the Single Market, will wreck the future for our children, our economy and our schools and hospitals. That’s why at the heart of the manifesto is a commitment to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal in a referendum, with the option to reject it and remain in the EU if they don’t like the deal they are offered.
This election is about your choice over your future. A vote for the Liberal Democrats can change Britain’s future. I have already identified the health commitments made by the Party in another blog so apart from those these are some of the highlights that I think are the most important in today’s announcements.
Liberal Democrat policies to support young people
The manifesto has a raft of policies to give our children and young people a brighter future. These include:
- Helping people buy their first home for the same cost as renting, with a new model of ‘Rent to Own’ homes
- Restoring housing benefit for young people
- Creating a discounted bus pass for 16-21 year olds, giving a 66% discount
- Introducing votes at 16 for elections and referendums across the UK
As well as:
- Investing almost £7bn in our schools and colleges
- Doubling the number of businesses that take apprenticeships
- Tripling the early years Pupil Premium
- Extending free school meals to all primary school students
We want to give all our children a brighter future in a fairer Britain where people are decent to each other, with good schools and hospitals, a clean environment and an innovative economy. Not Theresa May’s cold, mean-spirited Britain.
A new “start-up allowance’ to help budding entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of a thriving economy but the early months can be really tough.
The Start Up Allowance: budding entrepreneurs would receive £2600 over the first six months (£100 a week) of setting up their new business. It is to help with living costs in the testing early stages. This will really help get small businesses off the ground and let the economy grow.
It takes courage to set up a business, and we are on the side of entrepreneurs.
While the Conservatives focus on giving tax cuts to giant corporations, our focus is on small businesses seeking to grow. And unlike Labour and the Conservatives, we would stay in the single market.
Other key policies include reviewing controversial business rates and expanding the state-owned British Business Bank to make it easier for firms to borrow.
Liberal Democrat Funding for the Police
The Liberal Democrats will give £300m of additional funding to local police forces over the next Parliament.
Under Theresa May at the Home Office, and now as Prime Minister, the police have suffered over £2.2 billion worth of cuts in real terms. This represents a 22% real terms reduction.
As of 31 March 2016 the total strength of the 43 police forces in England & Wales reached just over 124,000 FTE officers. This is the lowest number of police officers recorded under the current strength measure.
This extra funding is essential to increase police visibility on our streets – key to reassuring communities, preventing crime and gathering intelligence. Conservative cuts meant that last year violent crimes actually increased, reversing a normally declining trend.
We are leaving it to local police forces to determine how they direct this spending in their communities.
Public Sector Pay
The Conservative Government have imposed a cap on public sector pay of 1% for each year between 2015 and 2019. They have given no indication that this policy will change. This means that public sector salaries are falling behind inflation – a real terms cut. The cap will mean that the average civil servant will be around £800 a year worse off by 2021, losing out on £2700 of pay over the next four years.
The Liberal Democrats would remove the 1% cap on pay rises in the public sector. Instead wages would increase in line with inflation. Based on the Office of Budgetary Responsibility’s inflation forecasts, this would mean a pay rise of £779 for the average public sector worker.
Unlike the manifesto commitments made by the Labour Party each of these policies has been fully costed and is deliverable. Labour’s plans have a huge black hole in them. The Tories have already made clear that there will be further cutbacks and that new spending will be dependent on growth. But growth is highly unlikely given the hard Brexit supported by both Tory and Labour Parties.