Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Tories accused of selling out vulnerable in favour of super rich

Leading Cambridge Liberal Democrats have accused the Tory Government of selling out millions of vulnerable people in order to give tax cuts to the super rich.

Party Chair, Dr Spencer Hagard and County Lib Dem Leader, Lucy Nethsingha told the party’s Autumn Conference that elderly and long-term disabled people will have to sell their homes and face financial ruin after the Tories backed out of a cap on care costs.

They accused Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor, George Osborne of breaking their cast iron pledge in their election manifesto to implement the much-awaited recommendations of the Dilnot Report.

Their call to the Tories to implement the report next April as planned and funded by the last coalition government was backed by an overwhelming majority at the conference.

Under a new system proposed in the report people receiving free support from the state would continue to do so. Also a £72,000 cap would be put on the maximum lifetime costs everyone would face for elderly care protecting a larger amount of people’s assets and allowing them to plan for the future.

But the Tories have mothballed the plan for at least five years claiming it could lead to a collapse in services.

Dr Hagard told the Bournemouth conference: “Cameron and Osborne make a cast iron pledge in their election manifesto to stop elderly and long-term disabled people from having to sell their homes to pay for the care that keeps them alive.

“Now they have contemptuously and cynically betrayed millions of ordinary families in order to give tax cuts to the super rich.”

He said later: “Implementing the Dinot proposals – as promised - would have resolved this huge unfairness.”

Cllr Nethsingha said: "The current system where patients who suffer from diseases like cancer or heart disease receive free NHS care, but those who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's have to pay for their own care with families facing financial ruin is appallingly unfair.

“It is disgraceful that George Osborne has chosen to abandon these families desperately in need of support in favour of tax breaks for those with one and two million pound houses."

Lib Dems fear for the future of the NHS following Addenbrooke's announcement

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have expressed their “grave fears” for the future of the NHS following the shock news that Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s and Rosie Hospitals have been put in special measures.

They claim the plans by the Tory Government to cap public sector pay at one per cent for the next five years will only add to the problems of the country’s straining health service.

Lucy Nethsingha, Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat Leader and a member of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Health and Well-being Board said: “The news that these hospitals have been put in special measures is a shock but has not come as a complete surprise.

“We do not expect our fantastic hospitals to be failing to deliver the highest quality of care. But the hospital management has been telling people of its immense difficulties in recruiting staff for many months.”

She said in the spring the management told the county’s health committee that they were attempting to recruit nursing staff from Spain and Portugal to help ease the staffing crisis.

“Staff have been doing their best to fill the gaps, but the strain shows and other staff leave because of the pressure put on them by high levels of vacancies,” she said. “The announcement by George Osbourne in the Budget in July that all public sector pay would be capped at one per cent for the next five years will only make this problem worse.

“I have grave fears for the ability of our whole health and care system to cope through the next parliament.”

Monday, 21 September 2015

16-year-olds should vote in EU referendum

Members at the Lib Dem annual Party Conference in Bournemouth have voted to allow 16 year olds to vote in the upcoming EU Referendum.

The motion passed after a considered debate among members and urges the Government to lower the voting age for the poll.

A Brexit would change the face of Britain for years to come and the Lib Dems believe these young people deserve a say in the future of their country.

It follows a long-held party policy to allow 16 year olds to vote in all local, regional and national elections, along with success of extending the vote in the Scottish Referendum.

Commenting on the new policy, Liberal Democrat spokesperson Sarah Ludford said:
"An EU exit would fundamentally change our country for years to come and deeply impact on young people, especially on their job prospects. 
"A 16 year old in Britain can get married, pay tax and join the army, so why on earth should they not be allowed to take part in a decision that greatly affects them? 
"Liberal Democrats believe staying in the EU gives us the best chance of future peace, tackling climate change and keeping our economy strong. 
"We also believe in people. So it is time 16 and 17 year olds are given a say on the future of Britain."

Bring back term-time holidays

Liberal Democrats have called for the Government to allow families to take children out of school during term-time to avoid crippling holiday costs.

The party has warned that the ban on missing lessons is 'socially divisive' because it forces poorer families to break the rules or miss out on holidays altogether.

In a motion passed at our Party Conference, the new policy argues headteachers should have discretion to grant up to ten days absence a year.

Rules introduced by Michael Gove when he was Education Secretary ended this right.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson John Pugh said:
"Many employees have no choice when to take their holidays. 
"People in some areas have to work all through the summer at the height of the tourism season. 
"Or others simply cannot afford to go on holiday at peak times, when demand for holidays is through the roof. 
"So, it's vitally important to offer more flexibility to schools and headteachers to help families who need to take a break together."

Male and Female tick options should be scrapped

A 'Male' or 'Female' tick-box on official documents should be phased out or replaced with an 'X' option, the Liberal Democrats said today.

The move is part of a package of measures to cut discrimination against transgender and intersex people.

Current practices make it difficult for a transgender person to have their gender recorded accurately.

The package of measures, passed at the Lib Dem Party Conference in Bournemouth, include:

  • Waiting time standards in all aspects of the gender healthcare service.
  • An independent inquiry into systemic abuse of transgender people in the NHS.
  • The establishment of a gender identity clinic in Wales.

Commenting on the new policy, Lib Dem spokesperson Meral Hussein-Ece said:
"The Liberal Democrats believe no should be left behind or discriminated against - regardless of race, gender, age, creed or sexual orientation. 
"We've come a long way in this country towards achieving the equality transgender people want and deserve. 
"But so much more needs to be done. That is why we have designed a package of measure to help reduce prejudice against the community. 
"Transgender rights are human rights. We need both our health service and our laws to reflect this fundamental fact."
The substantive part of the motion - F19 Transgender and intersex health charter - is as follows:
Conference called for:

The funding that NHS England has requested to be provided to ensure compliance with each person's needs and with waiting time standards in all aspects of the gender healthcare service.

The NHS to guarantee in their gender dysphoria protocols, in line with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care:
a) The right of transgender and gender-variant children to receive puberty-blocking medications until they are eligible for hormone replacement therapy.
b) The right of genderqueer, non-binary, and intersex people to access gender identity and reassignment services without discrimination based on their identity.
An independent inquiry into widespread and systemic abuse of transgender people within the health service.

Protections on gender reassignment in equality law to be expanded to also explicitly cover gender identity and expression, and all legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation to be extended to include gender identity and intersex status where appropriate.

Provisions in the Equality Act 2010 that legalise discrimination against transgender people and prevent autonomous organising to be reversed. A streamlined simplification of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to allow individuals to change their legal gender at will.

The phased removal of gender markers in documentation unless it is absolutely necessary, and the introduction of an 'X' gender option and 'Mx.' title option on the remainder.

Changes to government-issued documentation on the basis of gender reassignment to be provided free of charge.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission to develop standards of best practice in which equality and diversity monitoring forms request transgender status separate from gender and sexual orientation, with options for 'prefer not to say' and 'other (please specify)' for each question.

Transgender status of any kind to be explicitly designated as 'sensitive personal data' under the Data Protection Act 1998 and 'protected information' under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

The practice of unnecessary surgery on children for the purpose of resolving intersex variations of primary sex characteristics to be phased out, and for the Royal College of Surgeons to develop standards on that basis.

More paid roles to help increase transgender and intersex representation, especially in third sector organisations working with LGBT+ or young people.

The government to recognise and observe Bisexual Visibility Day (23 September), Intersex Awareness Day (26 October) and Transgender Day of Remembrance (20 November).

The party to continue to make the case for transgender and intersex equality, especially through challenging transphobia in political discourse and encouraging positive depictions in the media. Conference also supports the Welsh Liberal Democrats in campaigning to establish a gender identity clinic in Wales.