Friday, 17 January 2014

Liberal Democrats: Weekly News 17-JAN-2014

Minimum Wage

Liberal Democrats want to build a stronger economy and a fairer society. Back in August, Vince Cable asked the Low Pay Commission to consider how the minimum wage may be able to rise further and faster. From April low and middle earners will feel the benefit of the Liberal Democrat income tax cut that will save them over £700 a year compared to 2010, but we want to go further by delivering a ‘workers’ bonus’ that would increase this tax cut to over £800.

The Conservatives have set out their priorities- cutting inheritance tax for millionaires, which we blocked, and lowering the top rate of tax. On the other hand, when they were in power, Labour abolished the 10p tax rate and in opposition they do not have anything resembling a credible economic plan. Only the Liberal Democrats can build a stronger economy in a fairer society which enables everyone to get on in life.

Fracking

It has already been announced that local communities will receive £100,000 when a test well is sunk and a further 1 per cent of revenues if shale gas is discovered. This could be worth £5-£10m for the typical site over its lifetime.

The Government has now gone further by announcing further benefits to local communities. Millions of pounds in business rates will be given to councils in England which approve shale gas developments. Councils will be able to keep 100 per cent of the business rates they collect from shale gas sites – double the current 50 per cent figure. This commitment could be worth up to £1.7m a year for a typical site, funded by central Government.

The Government believes that shale gas has the potential to provide the UK with greater energy security, growth and jobs. However, Liberal Democrats are clear that wherever shale gas fracking is conducted it must be done in a safe and environmentally sound way. There are regulations in place to ensure on-site safety, prevent water contamination, air pollution and mitigate seismic activity.

The UK has over 50 years of experience of regulating the onshore oil and gas industry nationally. The UK has a strong regulatory regime for exploratory activities and we will look to continuously improve it as we develop new methods of energy production.

In Government, Ed Davey has led the way on making sure the Liberal Democrat commitment to reducing our carbon emissions is met with real action. Alongside securing over £30bn of investment in renewable energy, the Energy Act is expected to support the creation of 200,000 jobs in renewable energy

#whyiamIN

When a referendum on the EU comes the Liberal Democrats will campaign unambiguously as the party of IN. As Nick Clegg said, leaving the EU would be ‘economic suicide’.

Nick Clegg has called on pro-Europeans, businesses and organisations to join a ‘coalition for the national interest’ to make the case publicly for the benefits of being in Europe. He launched the party’s #whyiamIN campaign, calling on people to declare why they are in favour of being in Europe, which received thousands of online responses including support from Richard Branson.

He said: “Whatever you do, just don’t let the isolationists speak for you or dominate this debate. And if you are for IN, don’t wait for others to say it; make yourselves heard.”

Liberal Democrats are fighting to defend millions of jobs, create millions more and put thousands of pounds back in your pocket by supporting EU membership, making it easier for British companies to trade with the EU and beyond, slashing red tape for small businesses and cutting the EU budget.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Liberal Democrats recognise there is a problem with FOBTs which needs to be cleared up. FOBTs were introduced after the then Labour Government relaxed the gambling regulations. Liberal Democrats in Government are clearing up a situation put in place by the Labour Government. A Government backed review has been commissioned and is currently under way and will report in Spring of this year.

It is important to wait for the conclusion of this review before making changes.

Background

Liberal Democrats believe local councils should have increased powers to tackle the growing problem of clusters of Betting Shops opening on our High Streets.

The nature of Betting Shops has changed in recent years with the induction of high stake and high prize gaming machines. These “B2” machines have been described by some as the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

Combined with an increased number of Betting Shops, there are growing concerns about the impact on communities especially when there are several in the area. Yet councils feel quite powerless to address the problem.

Locum doctors

By taking difficult decisions to deal with the deficit we have protected spending on the NHS. However, retaining doctors in Accident and Emergency has been a problem for over a decade. While there are now over 20 per cent more A&E consultants than there were in 2010, the Government recognises the need to go even further.

As part of our NHS changes, the Government has introduced the first ever national training body which, working with the College of Emergency Medicine, has set out plans to make sure that the NHS has the A&E doctors that it needs. The Government has also invested £500m to help A&E departments prepare for winter and give patients confidence that they can access safe and reliable emergency care quickly.

Liberal Democrats in Government will continue to work to ensure that the NHS delivers world-class standards of care and that it gives people the confidence that they will always receive the treatment they and their families need.

Stronger economy and a fairer society

Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to anchor Britain in the centre ground by building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

That’s why in Government we have:

1. Fixed the mess left by Labour. We have:
a. reduced the deficit by a third
b. kept interest rates down
c. helped business create over a million jobs

2. Eased the squeeze on household budgets by:
a. cutting income tax by £700 for 24m people
b. giving every 5, 6 and 7 year old a free school meal daily
c. giving 15 hours free child care to all 3 and 4 year olds and 40% of 2 year olds
d. freezing fuel duty
e. delivering the biggest ever cash rise in the state pension

Voters face three choices in the coming election. A left-wing Labour party, a right-wing Tory party or a liberal party of the centre ground. Neither Labour nor the Tories can be trusted to govern Britain from the centre ground.

Labour can't be trusted with the economy. In Government, they borrowed and borrowed and nearly bankrupted Britain. Now they want to borrow even more, putting everyone at risk all over again.

The Tories can’t be trusted to treat people fairly or protect your freedoms. That's why we have blocked Tory plans in Government to:
1. Allow bosses to fire staff for no reason.
2. Let local schools be run for profit.
3. Introduce a ‘snoopers’ charter’ that would force internet service providers to keep records of all your texts and emails.

Now, with your support, we want to keep building a stronger economy and a fairer society by:
1. Increasing our income tax cut for low and middle earners by lifting the point at which you start paying from £10,000 to £12,500 a year, saving 24m people another £500.
2. Helping business create a million more jobs by promoting apprenticeships, giving financial support to promising businesses, protecting the science budget to drive innovation and cutting business tax.

Let's never go back to the way things were, because Labour can't be trusted with your money and the Tories can't be trusted to treat people fairly.

Only the Liberal Democrats in government can be trusted to anchor Britain in the centre ground and build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.