For Liberal Democrats, this is obviously a difficult day. Our party spent five years preventing the Conservatives from implementing policies that we felt were unfair, as well as introducing distinctive Lib Dem policies that made our recovery fairer and more sustainable. Sadly, yesterday’s budget shows the real difference that Liberal Democrats made in government, and are no longer able to make after May’s elections.
Welfare Cuts – The first of an excessive £12 billion in cuts which will fall disproportionately on the poorest. Also, limiting child tax credits and universal credit payments to only cover the first two children in a family sets a worrying precedent for any future Tory changes to child benefit.
Maintenance – We protected the maintenance grants for the poorest students and prevented any changes to this in the last parliament. Now the Tories are turning it into a loan and adding it onto students’ debt.
Green Energy – We created a system of subsidies for renewable energy production, funded by taxes on energy companies, to shift our economy away from our dangerous reliance on carbon. In government, we more than doubled the amount of energy the UK gets from renewable sources. Described by David Cameron as “green crap”, these taxes and subsidies are now being slashed. This is a tragically short-sighted cut that undermines the promising green energy foundations we have spent five years struggling to create.
Housing – The mass sell-off of housing association properties is a shameful example of short-term Tory electioneering at the expense of the social fabric of our communities. The plans for replacement of properties are threadbare and this whole plan has been ill thought-through. Now, these plans are being joined by the removal of housing benefit for Under-21s, which is going to make it even harder for young people and the less well off to find a home in our communities.
These are just four areas where the absence of Liberal Democrats in government will soon be felt. There will, no doubt, be more - such as protecting the Human Rights Act and fighting the Snooper's Charter.
Locally and nationally, we will continue to campaign for a fairer Britain. You can join us in this campaign by clicking here.
Join us today, and help us continue the fight to protect our environment, our civil liberties, our housing and welfare systems, and fairness in higher education.