The highest-earning households will lose most from the changes to taxes and benefits that are due to come into effect in April, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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The Coalition Government has today ended the political games played by the last Government over national security. The results of today's review are a major victory for those who have campaigned for so long against the deluge of authoritarian and draconian legislation passed by Labour, with Liberal Democrats delivering on our manifesto commitment to scrap control orders. This Government has created a package of counter terrorism and security powers which both protects our citizens and restores our freedoms. Lord Ken MacDonald, Liberal Democrat peer and former Director of Public Prosecutions, welcomed the review in his report saying the decisions "point to an unmistakable re-balancing of public policy in favour of liberty".
Kirsty Williams has written to the Minister for Children and Families, Sarah Teather MP, to ask that she give the Children’s Commissioner powers to investigate and speak up on non-devolved matters. Currently, the Commissioner is only allowed to work on devolved matters.
Commenting, Kirsty Williams said:
“This year sees ten years since the establishment of a Children’s Commissioner for Wales, and they have done a fantastic job speaking up for children in Wales. But they are often frustrated because they are limited in what they can do. I want there to be a single port-of-call for children in Wales.
“I’ve written to the Westminster Government to ask them to give these powers to the Welsh Commissioner. They are currently reviewing how the English Commissioner should work – now is the perfect time to make these changes. Now is the time for us in Wales to have a strong an independent Commissioner.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats also believe that the Children’s Commissioner should be appointed by the National Assembly, rather than the First Minister, to ensure they are independent from Government.
Iain Roberts writes on Liberal Democrat Voicc:
For all of the noise Labour’s making about the EMA, you might not realise that it was their idea to scrap it. Before he was an ex shadow chancellor, Alan Johnson was Secretary of State for Education and in April 2007 he made it clear that Labour was planning to scrap the EMA.
"An incentive scheme that rewards 16- to 18-year-olds for staying in education post-16 will be abolished when the leaving age is increased to 18.
"The Secretary of State for Education said last week that education maintenance allowances (EMAs) would no longer be necessary when the age is raised in 2015.
"Giving evidence to the Education and Skills Select Committee inquiry into 14-19 education, Alan Johnson said: 'The EMA is there as an incentive to stay on. We will not need to incentivise after 2015.'"
It’s notable not only that Labour have conveniently forgotten their plans from Government, but also that the Labour Government did not see the EMA as the best way to help poor students through their post-16 studies.
This comes on top of the revelation that Alistair Darling planned to increase VAT to 19% if Labour got in again at the last election.
Freedom of Information laws are to be extended as part of a push by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg to make public bodies more accountable.
The Deputy Prime Minister also wants to cut the length of time Government records are kept secret from 30 years to 20.
Current FOI legislation covers councils and Government departments, but Mr Clegg wants it to include potentially hundreds more bodies such as the Association of Chief Police Officers, Financial Services Ombudsman and Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
In a speech to the Institute for Government today, Mr Clegg said that the reforms are "part of our wider project to resettle the relationship between people and government.
"Free citizens must be able to hold big institutions and powerful individuals to account," he maintained.
Mr Clegg acknowledged that progress was made under Labour but this had now "stalled". There are too many exemptions to the FOI Act, while information is often placed "behind tedious bureaucratic hurdles. We still live in a society where information is hoarded by the few. And, as we know, information is knowledge, and knowledge is power."
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) president Sir Hugh Orde welcomed the proposals. He said: "Any organisation that operates as part of a key public service should be accountable and open to public scrutiny. The Association of Chief Police Officers has been asking to be included under the Act and welcomes the extension of authorities that it offers."
It is with regret that we announce that Councillor John Warman has
chosen to leave the Liberal Democrats on Neath Port Talbot council and
join the Labour group. Councillor Des Sparkes assures electors in the
Cimla ward that he will continue to serve them to the best of his
ability as their Liberal Democrat member.
We wish to make clear that, contrary to insinuations by Welsh Labour leader
Carwyn Jones, the local party has lost no activists and the membership has
remained steady since its rise during the 2010 General Election.