Saturday, December 30, 2017

45,000 young people in Britain affected by homelessness

Over 45,000 young people (18-24 year olds) presented themselves to councils as homeless or at risk of homelessness in the past year, an investigation by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The figures show that the real number of young people being affected by the homelessness crisis is far greater than shown by official government statistics.

Of the 45,752 who turned to councils to help over homelessness problems, 13,621 or just under one in three were then accepted by councils as statutorily homeless. Figures are based on responses to Freedom of Information requests from 238 of 380 local councils in England, Wales and Scotland, for the year to September 2017.

The areas with the highest numbers of young people turning to councils for help after becoming homeless or at risk of homelessness were Bradford (1828), Manchester (1297), Cornwall (1127), Nottingham (1091) and Telford and Wrekin (1051)

Scotland had four of the five top areas with the highest numbers of young people being declared statutorily homeless over the year, these were South Lanarkshire Council (424), Dundee City Council (424), Aberdeenshire (238).

In England, the areas with the highest numbers of young people being declared statutorily homeless were Manchester (420) Bristol (190), Southwark (150) Kirklees (141) and Wandsworth (134).

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“These figures reveal the hidden homelessness crisis affecting thousands of young people across the country.

“It is a national scandal that so many youngsters are struggling to find a permanent place to call home.

“Young people should be hopeful and looking to the future. Yet instead thousands will be spending this Christmas without a roof over their head, worrying about where they will sleep at night.

“The situation is being made worse by the Government’s heartless decision to strip young people of housing benefit.
 
“The government must reverse cuts to housing benefit for young people, invest more in preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place and build more genuinely affordable homes.”

Friday, December 29, 2017

Private company involvement in benefit tests must end


Liberal Democrat DWP spokesman Stephen Lloyd – who has a disability himself – is calling for an immediate end to private sector involvement in benefit eligibility tests for sick and disabled people. He says this has undermined the principles of the welfare state established by Liberal reformer Sir William Beveridge.

Despite receiving contracts for personal independence payment (PIP) tests and work capability assessments (WCA) worth hundreds of millions of pounds from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), large multinationals including Atos, Capita and Maximus have consistently failed to meet the standards set by the Government.

The companies have been accused of subjecting claimants to dehumanising procedures, failing in many cases to accurately determine eligibility, and inappropriately cutting costs by not hiring qualified medical professionals. Just this month executives from all three companies were hauled in front of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and criticised for their

The Liberal Democrats would bring PIP tests and Work Capability Assessments in-house and ban any future private sector involvement. In the long-term the party would also go further and scrap Work Capability Assessments entirely, replacing them with a more humane system devolved to local authorities. This would ensure that benefit eligibility is based on local needs and labour market realities.

Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesman said:

“Just over 70 years ago, the great Liberal reformer William Beveridge set out the foundational principles of our modern welfare state. He called for a social contract between citizen and state, and a minimum standard below which no individual should ever fall.

“Today these principles are under threat from the privatisation of benefit tests, which continue to cause immeasurable suffering. While I am a strong believer in the benefits of a market economy, the profit motive has absolutely no place in determining the safety net for the most vulnerable.

“Enough is enough. Private firms should play no further role in deciding whether sick and disabled people are eligible for benefits. Both the Work Capability Assessment and PIP tests should be brought in house immediately, with a ban on further private sector involvement.

“The Liberal Democrats would go further by scrapping the WCA all together and replacing it with a more humane system devolved to local authorities. This would ensure that people – not profit – form the basis of our safety net.”


Conservative pursuit of hard Brexit and lack of investment to blame for TUC's dire real wage forecast


Analysis of OECD data by the TUC has found that the UK will have the worst real wage performance of any advanced economy next year.

Responding, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: 


"This is a very good analysis by the TUC. The Conservative pursuit of a hard Brexit is a big part of this, leading to a sustained level of inflation that is eating into wages. This means it is increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet.

"Another reason is a productivity problem that cannot be solved when there is such subdued government investment. According to the analysis, we will be one of the few developed economies to suffer a real wage decrease in 2018. The Conservatives' mismanagement is putting us in the economic relegation zone." 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

May must back EU allies & condemn Polish government for its attack on the rule of law

  

Ahead of the UK - Poland summit in Warsaw tomorrow, the Liberal Democrats have called on Theresa May to support the EU’s efforts to reinstate the rule of law and liberal democracy in Poland.

David Cameron capitulated to demands by his own backbench Eurosceptic Conservative MPs to leave the mainstream EPP European grouping in 2009 and form a new right wing European parliamentary grouping with the Polish PiS party, which is now responsible for undermining democratic and judicial institutions in Poland.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“It was a massive mistake for the Tories to get into bed with the populist, right-wing and homophobic Polish PiS party.

“Now Theresa May has been left in an awkward position that is totally self-inflicted.

“The UK must be firm with the Government in Warsaw and support EU efforts to defend democracy and the rule of law in Poland.

“Theresa May rightly committed to defending liberty, democracy and the rule of law in Europe - now it’s time to deliver.”

Public must be informed of secret Trump trade deal



Commenting on reports that Liam Fox has struck a secrecy deal with the US over Brexit trade talks, Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson, said:

“It is vitally important that the public are kept informed of what is being agreed between the UK and the most powerful country in the world. With a protectionist Donald Trump at the helm, this could be the biggest and worstest deal ever.

“We must know if our environmental standards are being flogged off, our food standards are going to hold up, or our public services are being sold to the highest bidder.

“The British people have the right to know whether Liam Fox wants us to eat chlorinated chicken, hormone-fed beef or GMO foods before they hit our supermarket shelves!”
 

Corbyn has shirked role of opposition over Brexit


Responding to the news that Jeremy Corbyn has strictly ruled out giving the public a say on the final Brexit deal, Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson, said:

“The Labour leadership have constantly played a game of smoke and mirrors over their Brexit position. But here they are nailing their colours to the mast in support of hard Brexit.

“The party of opposition have again shirked their responsibility to oppose Theresa May’s government.

“The public need to be given a say on the final Brexit deal.  With Labour and the Tories marching together over the cliff, the people must be given the opportunity to exit from Brexit.”
 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Grenfell building safety report exposes "serious failings" by Govt

An interim report into building safety regulations commissioned in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire has warned that the current system is "not fit for purpose," due in part to weak enforcement of the rules and lack of clarity over who is responsible.

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Communities and Local Government, commented:

“This report exposes serious failings by the Government.

“Safety rules have not been properly enforced and the organisations that provide housing have not been held to account.

“Thousands of families across the country continue to live in unsafe accommodation.

“We need swift action to put the situation right before another tragedy occurs.

“That should include tougher enforcement of the rules and more funding for safety improvements."

PAC report condemns Govt's complacency over rising homelessness

A report by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee has accused the government of being "unacceptably complacent" over rising levels of homelessness.

It says the limited action taken has lacked the urgency that is so badly needed and that the “light touch” approach to working with local authorities tackling homelessness has clearly failed.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who sits on the committee, commented:

“This damning report exposes the Government’s failure to protect the most vulnerable in society.

“Soaring levels of homelessness have meant even many people in work are now finding themselves on the streets or in temporary accommodation.

“The complacency ministers are showing on this issue is totally unacceptable and must come to an end.

“Instead of passing the buck to local authorities, the Government must take responsibility for ending rough sleeping and building the truly affordable homes the country needs.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

National Audit Office report suggests that Green Investment Bank was sold on the cheap


A NAO report attacks the government for its handling of the sale of the Green Investment Bank, set up by Liberal Democrats in coalition. The report makes clear:
  • the sale process took longer than expected, and had an operational impact on the GIB. The sale process lasted for nearly 18 months, more than double the length indicated in planning.
  • the final sale price was very much at the lower end of the expected valuation range.
Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable, who as Business Secretary played a key part in setting up the bank, said:

"Establishing the Green Investment Bank, a world first, was one of the Liberal Democrat successes of coalition and it has made financially prudent investments. The GIB’s privatisation showed the Conservatives really don’t care about the environment, or the long-term financial rewards this brings as we try to move towards a lower carbon, more efficient economy.

“Sadly, the mishandled sales process has created uncertainty, particularly through key staff losses, at a time when the GIB should have been growing and helping the UK hit international carbon reduction targets by fostering the green economy.

“The big fear now is that it will disappear into the commercial arm of Macquarie, which will enjoy the returns generated through sound investment, without reinvesting that into new green projects.”
 

Trump not welcome - Swinson


After the American ambassador confirmed that President Trump will be visiting Britain in the New Year, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson said this embarrassing visit was the fault of Theresa May.

Jo Swinson MP said:

"President Trump’s divisive politics of hate is in direct conflict with British values.

"One of the prime minister’s biggest political mistakes was to offer to roll out the red carpet for a man who wears his racism and misogyny like a badge of pride. Theresa May should stand up to Donald Trump and withdraw her invitation."
 

Gove adopts Liberal Democrat policy on animal welfare offences


The Liberal Democrats have welcomed Michael Gove's announcement to increase sentences for animal welfare offences to up to five years, a policy taken from the Liberal Democrat manifesto, but warn that he should clamp down on illegal pet imports.

In January this year, the government said there were no plans to extend maximum sentencing in response to parliamentary questions from the Liberal Democrats, instead offering the possibility of giving revised guidance to magistrates.

The Liberal Democrat 2017 manifesto called for "stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years." No such policy was proposed in the Conservative 2017 manifesto.

Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Kate Parminter commented:

“It’s very welcome that the government is finally agreeing to introduce tougher sentences for extreme cruelty against animals. But the government needs to crack down on the illegal importation of pets.

“The policy of tougher sentences was proposed in the recent Liberal Democrat manifesto and is something we have long campaigned for. While the Conservatives have had to drop many unpopular policies from their own manifesto, it is good to see they are now reaching for the Liberal Democrat one instead.

“For too long, offenders in cases involving extreme and premeditated cruelty have got away with little more than a slap on the wrist.

“We must now ensure this legislation is passed and implemented as soon as possible to deter more of these horrific crimes from happening."

Lib Dems respond to report on Intimidation in Public Life


The Committee on Standards in Public Life has today published a report on intimidation in public life.

The report calls for a new law to crack down on the rise in intimidation and abuse at elections and says social-media companies should tackle "persistent, vile and shocking abuse" directed at politicians.

Liberal Democrat President Sal Brinton, who gave evidence to the report, commented:

"We welcome this report and its recommendations.

"The Liberal Democrats look forward to working with other parties to implement these proposals to tackle intimidation in public life.

"It's crucial that both social media companies and political parties take action to tackle the shocking rise in abuse against those standing for public office."
 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Cable: Time for all-BAME short-lists to tackle Parliament's diversity problem


Speaking at The Grand Mawlid (Peace Conference) in Birmingham today in front of an expected 4,000 audience, Vince Cable will call on the government to change the law so that all-BAME (black and minority ethnic) short-lists are allowed for selecting Parliamentary election candidates.

Under the 2010 Equality Act, political parties may field all-women or all-disabled short-lists, but the law does not allow for all-BAME short-lists.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable is expected to say: 


"There remains a serious lack of diversity in Parliament.

"There are just 51 BAME MPs. Despite being a record total, they represent only 7.9% of all MPs, against 14% of the British population. There are still too few opportunities for BAME people to enter British politics at all levels.

"Parliament is supposed to set an example to the rest of society. We should be showing that we are willing to tackle issues of lack of diversity head on.

"Although advances in gender balance have been made partly through all-women short-lists, we still have this loophole that all-BAME short-lists are not allowed.

"I have written to Damian Green, the de facto deputy prime minister, calling on him to close this loophole through legislation. It is time to unify the country by giving everyone the opportunity to move up in life."
 
Frank Little, secretary of Aberavon and Liberal Democrats, added:
"It should be noted that Vince calls for permissive, not mandatory legislation, contrary to some media speculation earlier in the week.

"In 2016 the Lib Dems became the first party to pick a prospective parliamentary candidate from an all-disabled short-list when Stephen Lloyd was selected for Eastbourne. He regained the seat at this year's general election with a majority of 1,609 and is now the party's Spokesperson for Work & Pensions. "

 

Friday, December 08, 2017

How long before May's Brexit deal is torn apart by her own MPs ?

Responding to the news a Brexit deal has been agreed by Theresa May and the EU in Brussels this morning, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

"This agreement is welcome as it reduces the risk of a catastrophic No Deal Brexit. It also includes a role for the EU Court of Justice for eight years, a notable concession.

"But how long will this deal last before it is torn apart by Theresa May's own MPs? And what will happen next, seeing as the Cabinet hasn't even discussed yet what the final Brexit outcome should look like?

"There are still two opposing views in government, those who want a close arrangement with the EU and those who want to tear apart decades of work building ties with our closest trading partner.

"And there is still no solution over how to prevent a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The biggest obstacle to the government's Brexit plans is being kicked into the long grass.

"The government is still a long way from a final deal, and even further from delivering on what the Brexiters promised. 

"At the end of this process it is the British people, not Tory MPs and the DUP, who should get to decide whether the deal is good enough."

IfG report shows absurdity of Tory red line on EU Court of Justice

The UK rarely ends up in the EU Court of Justice, and when it does it wins its cases more often than most EU countries, a new report by the Institute for Government has found today.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“This report highlights the absurdity of the Conservatives’ red line on the EU Court of Justice.

“In spite of the Tory party’s ideological obsessions, the Court has actually served Britain’s interests well over the years.

“The few cases the UK government has lost have mostly been for failing to uphold environmental protections.

“This should be a wake-up call for those Cabinet Ministers who want to rupture all ties with the EU Court no matter the cost for people’s rights, our economy and environment.”

UK border report reveals government is risking UK's future


A report from the Public Affairs Committee has warned that the UK border could be exposed from the first day of Brexit.

The report says that government assumptions about behaviour are risky and planning is too reliant on a transitional period.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who sits on the committee, said: 

“Once again we have evidence in front of us that the government are failing to prepare for Brexit.

“Mismanagement and blunder from this government is risking the future of this country. Massive new pressures to the UK border are being ignored and the whole issue is seemingly being kicked into the long grass.

“It is appalling that major issues that we know will arise from Brexit are going ignored. The people must be given a chance to escape this mess and exit from Brexit.”

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Government has done impact assessments on drains and comedy but not Brexit


The government has carried out impact assessments on policies ranging from drain standards to the use of parody in comedy yet still hasn't produced any on Brexit, Liberal Democrat research has revealed.

The Liberal Democrats slammed the government as being "quite literally beyond parody."

It comes after David Davis yesterday admitted that the 58 Brexit impact assessments he claimed his department was working never existed.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

“It's standard procedure to produce an impact assessment when bringing in new policies, on everything from comedy to sewers.

“Yet the government haven’t bothered to produce one for Brexit, an issue that will affect the future of this country for generations to come. It is quite literally beyond parody.

“The staggering incompetence ministers are showing over Brexit shows why we must give people the choice to reject the final deal and stay in the EU."

No wonder only 16 parliamentarians* accessed the Brexit papers

Farcical security

Dick Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, has complained to the government over their 'farcical' security measures for the Brexit papers.

Lord Newby has questioned whether such measures are beyond what is necessary for a document which should be made publicly available and contains no information which is sensitive.

The documents contain no assessment whatsoever by the Government of how Brexit will affect the sectors covered, and simply repeat what they’ve been told by companies in the sector.

The current security measures include:
  • Booking a time slot to view the papers
  • Getting a pass from Parliament Street
  • Being escorted to the reading room
  • Handing in your mobile phone
  • Being watched over by two DExEU officials
  • Not being allowed to view the papers outside the hours of 10-1 and 2-5 on Monday to Thursday.
Lord Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, said:

“There is absolutely no justification for the farcical restrictions being placed on parliamentarians wishing to see these documents. The arrangements seem designed to make it as difficult as possible to access them.

"As they contain no assessment of the impacts of Brexit and no sensitive material they should be made available in parliament in the same way as all other documents.

"They should also be put online so that the public can get a better understanding of the complexities and challenges of Brexit.”

(*Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom asserted today that only 16 people had accessed the government's Brexit assessments.)

Irish border: Cabinet doesn't have a clue


Following Chris Grayling’s claim that the UK does not need identical laws to the EU for Irish border trade, the Liberal Democrats accused the government of not knowing what it is doing.

Tom Brake said:

“If you listen to seven different cabinet ministers, you hear eight different opinions.

“Theresa May is being undermined at every turn by her own ministers in this incompetent government. Chris Grayling doesn't give a fig about trade in Northern Ireland - he only cares about trading blows with his own cabinet colleagues and pursuing an extreme Brexit. In talking up the possibility of a No Deal he is undermining the Chancellor and talking down British business.

“With the government making more of a mess of Brexit with every passing day, it is ever more vital that the people are given a vote on any deal Theresa May finally manages to negotiate.”
 

 

Vince Cable launches Lib Dem Business & Entrepreneurs Network


Vince Cable has launched a Liberal Democrat Business & Entrepreneurs Network (LDBEN) at an event in the City this morning, galvanising the business community amid the government’s shambolic handling of Brexit.

The network includes is made up of 80 leading figures from the business community, including angel investor Andrew Dixon and Chair of Allied Irish Banks Richard Pym.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:
 

“Under my leadership, I will ensure the Liberal Democrats are a strong voice for business and economic common sense.

“We will provide a sound and sensible plan to protect our economy, jobs and tax revenue from Brexit.

“Labour under Corbyn are intent on bashing business, while the Tories are pursuing an extreme version Brexit that will do permanent damage to our economy.

“We will provide a natural home for businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We would build on the industrial strategy that we introduced in government, keep Britain at the heart of the single market and pursue ambitious reforms at home that will support businesses and boost growth.”

Richard Pym, Chair Allied Irish Banks plc, Co-Chair and Founder Member of LDBEN, stated: 

“The Conservatives have betrayed business with their wealth-destroying approach to Brexit.  The Labour Party scare business with their anti-capitalism rhetoric.

“In contrast the values of modern businesses are liberal values.

“Business leaders and entrepreneurs are increasingly backing the Liberal Democrats because the party is now the natural party for business.”

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Farron: David Davis must go


After David Davis was accused of misleading parliament, former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that the Brexit Secretary has to resign.

Tim Farron said:

“David Davis needs to go. He has misled parliament and under his leadership the Brexit department has turned incompetence into an art form.

“I am not one to call for ministerial resignations every two minutes and I've nothing against David Davis as a person but it is now clear he deceived MP. He is also writing the government’s Brexit strategy on the back of a fag packet.

“Some 18 months on, the government hasn’t worked out what the effects of Brexit will be or even what kind of Brexit it wants.

“Forget Brexit – we need Dexit: an exit from the duplicity and dither of David Davis.”
 

Two state solution could be in tatters under Trump


Responding to news that Donald Trump has recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who is the only UK MP with Palestinian background, said:

“The Prime Minister must use what remains of the special relationship to urge President Trump to reconsider his decision.

“There is now a high probability that the two state solution will be in tatters, and yet another round of violence in the region can be expected.

“Trump risks bolstering support for extremists, recklessly increasing the likelihood of an upsurge in potential new attacks in the west.”
 

Introduce fraud prevention league tables so we know who to trust



The Liberal Democrats have backed calls for a ‘fraud prevention league table’ for banks so consumers have a choice about where they put their money.

Currently banks do not give this data to the government, leaving both the government, and more importantly consumers, in the dark over how safe their money is.

The call is backed by a Report today from the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts titled 'The growing threat of online fraud' which warns that online fraud is now the most prevalent crime in England and Wales and that banks are not doing enough to tackle online fraud and their response has not been proportionate to the scale of the problem.

The league table proposal is similar to measures utilised by the car industry, which have found success not only in informing consumers, but also prompting the car industry to deliver improvements.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who co-led the questioning on the Committee session, said:

"Clearly people have a right to know how safe their money is. When people are saving for a better future, when they are taking home their wage packet, they need to be able to make an informed decision about how safe their savings are.

“This measure has already to make cars safer, we now need to encourage a race to the top in the banking sector.

"Online fraud is now the most prevalent crime facing people in the England and Wales, yet adequate measures are not in place to protect consumers from fraud."

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Anderson terrorism report shows security services need more resources not new powers


The Anderson report has found that the Manchester Arena bomber had been a "subject of interest" and opportunities to stop him were missed.

Meanwhile London Bridge Attacker Khuram Butt was the main target of a surveillance operation - but this was suspended twice because of a lack of resources.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey commented:

“This report shows the key challenge facing our security services is not a lack of powers, but a lack of resources.

“It is the Government's responsibility to ensure our security services have the capacity to keep us safe, but instead our police have faced drastic cuts.

“Community policing is a key source of intelligence. If we want to stand the best chance of preventing future attacks, we need to invest in more police in our communities and on our streets.

"That is why the Liberal Democrats would invest an extra £300m a year into policing to help keep the country safe."

Trump Muslim ban - this is why he is not welcome, says Cable


After the Supreme Court upheld Donald Trump's ban on people entering the United States from six mostly Muslim countries, this politics of division was attacked by the Liberal Democrats.

Leader Vince Cable said: 

"This is not the signal the supposed leader of the free world should be sending out. The Muslim ban is the worst symbol of Trump’s intolerance, and we must hope this doesn’t spread even more hate at a fragile time.

“It also underlines why Liberal Democrats have told Trump that he simply is not welcome in the UK - the difference is this country won’t resort to banning him.”
 

Govt must freeze rail fares to prevent Brexit price hike


UK rail fares will rise by 3.4% in January, the largest increase for five years, due to rising inflation since the Brexit vote.

The cost of annual season tickets on some commuter trains has now risen above £5000. For example, Crowhurst in East Sussex to St. Pancras is now £5,130.

Commuters in Wales will also see painful price hikes. Many travel to work in Cardiff from Neath and will be hit by a £56 increase.
The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to freeze fares to help hard-pressed commuters.

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson commented:

"Hard-pressed commuters are being stung with Brexit rail fare hikes as a result of soaring inflation.

“Rail passengers in Britain should not have to pay the price for government incompetence in Brussels.

“It’s time the government froze fares to help people struggling with rising costs and lower wages.

“Commuters waiting in the cold on the platform in January deserve better than paying through the nose for unreliable, overcrowded trains.”

Pharmaceutical industry warns of Brexit "nightmare scenario"


Leading figures in the pharmaceutical industry have warned that diverging from EU standards could create a "nightmare scenario" for the sector and that the fall in the pound since the Brexit vote has already made it no longer viable to produce certain medicines.

Mike Thompson, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), told the Commons Business Committee that regulatory alignment with the EU is "critical" and failure to agree mutual recognition could lead to a "nightmare scenario."

Peter Ballard, Managing Director of Xiromed, warned that the fall in the pound has already meant it is no longer viable to produce certain medicines in the UK, adding that tariffs and significant regulatory changes would do "significant" damage.

Each month the UK imports 37 million medicine packs from the EU while 45 million packs are exported from Britain to the EU, according to figures form the ABPI.

The stark warning comes as Theresa May negotiates with the DUP over the issue of regulatory alignment to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

"Theresa May must listen to this clear warning from the pharmaceuticals industry.

"The cost of some medicines is already rising due to the fall in the pound since the referendum.

"This will only get worse if the government continues to bungle these negotiations and pursue the most extreme form of Brexit.

"British patients should not be made to pay the price for an incompetent Tory Brexit.

"Whether it is farming, the car industry or pharmaceuticals, the best option for all key sectors of our economy is to stay in the single market and customs union."

Monday, December 04, 2017

Social mobility board quitting is vote of no confidence in government

Responding to the news that all four members of the board of the government's Social Mobility Commission have stood down, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

"This is a serious vote of no confidence in the government's policies.

"Brexit is sucking all the life out of government so that it has no time or energy to address inequality and lack of opportunity for young people.

"Alan Milburn and his team were taken seriously by the coalition, helping to drive forward policies like the pupil premium.

"Now ministers are too preoccupied by internal infighting and Brexit to tackle social injustice."

Farage branded "shameless hypocrite" over EU pension

Nigel Farage told the Andrew Marr show on Sunday that he would take his EU pension, saying “why should my family and others suffer even more.”

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake commented:

“Nigel Farage is a shameless hypocrite.

“He rails against the so-called EU gravy train, but is happy to cash in when it suits him.

“No doubt he also secretly backs the £50bn Brexit divorce bill that includes money to pay for his EU pension.”

Cable responds to JRF report showing rise in child and pensioner poverty

Britain is seeing the the first sustained rises in child and pensioner poverty for two decades, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's state of the nation report.

The report warns poverty rates rose last year to 16% for pensioners and 30% for children – and that welfare cuts are reducing families’ financial breathing space.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“This report sounds the death knell for Theresa May’s claim to be building a country that works for everyone.

“Instead of tackling social injustice, the government’s policies are worsening inequality and hitting the poorest in society hardest.

“The significant progress made recently in reducing child and pensioner poverty is now going into reverse, due to a growing squeeze on living standards combined with harsh welfare cuts.

“With this kind of record, it’s little surprise that those leading the government’s Social Mobility Commission have quit.

“Ministers must urgently end the freeze on working-age benefits before more children are pushed into poverty, and invest in building the affordable homes the country desperately needs.”
 

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Ideological obsession with hard Brexit putting 20 years of peace at risk


Commenting on the statement by t├ínaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney that Brexit talks cannot move forward until the Irish border problem is overcome, Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson, said:

"Following the Tory Brexit U-turn on the divorce bill and (disputed) indications that a deal has been reached on citizens' rights, the Ireland - Northern Ireland border is now the major obstacle this government faces

"The government has failed to convince anyone that a frictionless border solution exists.  And they have ruled out the obvious answer which is remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union.

"Their ideological obsession with a hard Brexit is putting twenty years of peace at risk. 

"Only the Lib Dems are offering a chance to exit from Brexit and to maintain the peaceful status quo that currently exists in Northern Ireland."

Friday, December 01, 2017

Communities need protection against RBS closures


 

Commenting on reports that RBS plans to close one in four of its branches, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

“We understand that RBS needs to sort out its business so it can be sold at a profit for taxpayers rather than the loss that ministers currently seem to be pushing for
.
“However, there is also a ‘last bank in town’ policy that all banks should be following to make sure communities are not left without banking facilities, including orderly transfer of services to local Post Offices and free-to-use cash machines.

"We need assurances from RBS that there are arrangements in place that will not leave communities isolated because of its cost-cutting measures.”