Time for Change – our commitment on disability

Where disability is concerned, Theresa May isn’t listening and is taking people for granted.

People don’t have to settle for this cold, mean-spirited vision of Britain. A better future is available. The Liberal Democrats will stand up against a bad Brexit deal that will cost jobs and push up prices, and we will reverse Conservative cuts to benefits for people not fit for work.

The Liberal Democrats has a long history of working to raise awareness and understanding of disability across the country. We want to ensure that people living with disabilities are given the fair and just treatment they deserve.

Our manifesto has made several commitments to support and increase disability support, one of which will be increasing NHS funding. There is no doubt that our NHS is in crisis and we need to put better measures in place to support those most at need. Our pledge for a 1p tax rise on Income Tax would raise an additional £6 billion a year which would be ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services. Specifically we have allocated £2 billion for social care.

We will also:

  • Bring together NHS and social care into one seamless service – pooling budgets in every area by 2020 and developing integrated care organisations. We would make provisions for personal budgets so that people can design services for their own individual needs, which will help to combat the issues surrounding loneliness and isolation
  • Establish a cross-party health and social care convention, bringing together stakeholders from all political parties, patients groups, the public and professionals from within the health and social care system to carry out a comprehensive review of the longer-term sustainability of the health and social care finances and workforce, and the practicalities of greater integration.
  • Make sure that all disabled people who want to work are supported to gain meaningful employment.

We will seek to expand Access to Work, a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work.

An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support to help disabled people:

  • Start working
  • Stay in work
  • Move into self-employment or start a business.
  • Liberal Democrats will also continue Access for All, a programme aimed at improving disabled access on public transport.

I have personal experience of working with a company, which was owned and run by and largely staffed by people who are Deaf. When Access to Work was in force, people could pool their allowances to pay for interpreters who were shared among the team to help everyone when they needed to make phone calls – critical to all access work and the tv production we did for BSLBT and CBeebies.

Amy Campbell Nottage, one of the presenters of Magic Hands, teaching children signs from British Sign Language in Newbury Library. Magic Hands is one of the programmes I made with the team at Remark Media.

When Access to Work was replaced with PIP, the company crumbled. I saw our directors explaining themselves to PIP people over and over again, ‘Yes I am still deaf’. ‘Yes, my situation has not changed since my last short term contract finished two weeks ago!’. That company is now gone. Fewer of the team are employed. More are on benefits – full disability benefit, as they are no longer supported to work.

The Liberal Democrats has a long history of working to raise awareness and understanding of disability across the country. We want to ensure that people living with disabilities are given the fair and just treatment they deserve.

The current situation is cruel and defies belief.

Lib Dems will cut youth unemployment

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Above: With Courtney from Thatcham, an apprentice at the Thatcham Automotive Academy, which trains youngsters from across the UK for the motor repair and insurance industries.

The Liberal Democrats aim to see an extra 100,000 young adults into work through on the job training such as an apprenticeship or full-time education. This week, Nick Clegg outlined a plan which focuses on cutting youth unemployment cut to its lowest levels since records began.

This announcement is critical for Newbury and West Berkshire. Our high achievers here do well, and we are rightly proud of what they achieve. The increasing number of NEETS in our area is worrying, however (Youngsters Not in Education, Employment or Training).

If I am elected to Westminster, I am determined to see the number of unemployed youngsters in our area drop.

Liberal Democrats believe in spreading opportunity to everyone, no matter what your background. The opportunity to work and have a fulfilling and rewarding career is crucial to this.

In a future government, Nick will launch a Youth Unemployment Action Plan. He will also set up a new Youth Unemployment Task-force within the first 100 days of government to fast-track getting young adults back into work.

In Government we created two million new jobs and two million more apprenticeships. We have reduced youth unemployment, but it’s still too high and there is much more to do.

I remember hearing Vince Cable talking about the importance of apprenticeships long before we were in government. Now we want to double the number of businesses taking on apprentices, open up work experience opportunities, transform careers advice and, across the UK, invest millions into mental health services.

Youth unemployment was rising long before the financial crash. It increased by a third under Labour. The Conservatives risk making things much harder for young people by stripping them of jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefit. 

Only the Liberal Democrats have a comprehensive plan to tackle the scourge of youth unemployment.

Lib Dem Manifesto 2015 – in full

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Today we published the Liberal Democrat Manifesto for 2015.

Our five top priorities are: 

  • A World Class Education for all: Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class.
  • Prosperity for all: Balance the budget fairly and invest to build a high-skill, low-carbon economy
  • Quality health care for all: Invest £8 billion to improve our NHS and guarantee equal care for mental health.
  • Fair taxes: Raise the Personal Allowance to £12,500, cutting your taxes by an additional £400.
  • Our environment protected: Protect nature and fight climate change with five green laws.

The full manifesto also gives details on our policies on housing, policing, security, foreign policy and equal rights.

Read the full manifesto, herehttp://bit.ly/1IKxqKZ.

Hustings update

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LOCAL NEWS:

Last week saw parliamentary candidates in our constituency taking part in the Hungerford Question Time, always an important staging post in election campaigning.

The usual suspects were on the panel, with Paul from the Green Party replacing UKIP Katherine who was indisposed. Proceedings were well chaired by Greg Furr.

Questions ranged from rail electrification (supported by all parties) , to business rates (Lib Dems launched wide ranging review last week), to plans for the NHS (lots of vague promises, Lib Dems only party with a costed plan to provide £8bn a year extra funding for NHS by 2020).

There will be further opportunities to quiz your representatives on:

  • Sun 19th April – 19:00             Streatley Hustings
    The Morrell Room, Church Lane, RG8 9HT
  • Weds 22nd April – 17:45         Newbury Political Debate, hosted by Buzz Magazine
    St Bart’s School, Andover Rd, RG14 6JP
  • Thurs 23rd April – 07:45         Economy, Taxation & Business hosted by Grant Thornton
    I will be debating with Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, at a Thames Valley hustings  in Reading
    Madejski Stadium, Junction 11, M4, Reading RG2 0FL

If you are able to come along to any of these debates, I look forward to meeting you. Do come and say hello at the end of the event.

Stop the Cuts to Children’s Services

  • help for looked-after children;
  • mentoring in the community;
  • support for young people leaving care;
  • childcare classes;
  • job clubs;
  • life-skill clubs; and
  • groups to support children with Special Educational Needs.

For more detailed  information and to make longer conmmets on the cuts,  go to http://info.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=30699.

With 1500 signatures on this petition, we can force a public debate at West Berkshire Council.


Please sign our petition below to stop these cuts: 

http://westberkslibdems.org.uk/en/petition/stop-the-cuts-to-children-s-services

 

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Thank you for signing.

 

http://westberkslibdems.org.uk/en/petition/stop-the-cuts-to-children-s-services

Secret Tory plans to slash education budget by £13.3bn

Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

New damning evidence has lifted the lid on Conservative plans to slash the education budget in the next Parliament.

Private briefing notes photographed on Monday (5 January) show the Tories have refused to rule out cutting the schools budget after the general election.

Research by Liberal Democrats shows that the Conservatives would need to axe a quarter of the education budget by 2020 to keep pace with their plans for public spending.

The findings based on House of Commons library figures show that the education budget could be slashed by £13.3bn a year by the end of the next Parliament.

Such drastic cuts would have a profound impact on schools and the life chances of children. For example, applied evenly across DfE spending, cuts on this scale could mean:

· More than £9bn cut from schools funding – the equivalent of scrapping the funding for 2m pupils.

· About £640m cut from the Pupil Premium – the equivalent of 36,000 teaching assistants or 920,000 fewer pupils receiving 12 weeks of one-to-one tuition.

· About £775m cut from early years – the equivalent of 58,000 3-4-year-olds and 66,000 2-year-olds from low income families losing their free childcare entitlement.

Unlike the Conservatives plans to cut the education budget, Liberal Democrats will protect the education budget in the next parliament.

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws said:

“The Tories have now revealed their true colours for all to see. They want to slash spending on education that’s desperately needed to provide children a fair and equal opportunity to succeed.

A Tory-shaped £13.3bn black hole in education spending will jeopardise future job prospects for our country’s children, and jeopardise our long term economic stability.

“Unlike the Conservatives and Labour, the Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting cradle to college spending in the Department for Education.

“We believe that giving every child the best possible start in life is the best way to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Education spending is a real investment – good for growth and essential for creating a fairer society.”

Science toys for boys and girls this Christmas

Judith Bunting is calling on the retail sector to do the right thing – by marketing toys for all children, rather than for boys and girls separately.

Many girls still believe that some science subjects are not for them – almost half of all state-schools had no girls taking A-level physics in recent years. Campaigners have suggested that this is in part because the future aspirations of girls and boys are set at a very early age.

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Judith Bunting said:

“Parents know that boys and girls love all kinds of toys. With children developing very clear ideas at a young age about what jobs boys and girls can do, we can all help to send a clear signal that nothing is off limits. It is great that fewer retailers are defining toys as ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’, which shows they are responding to their customers’ demands for more choice.

“But there is still more to do. I hope this Christmas companies will be conscious of how they are marketing their products and make sure they aren’t accidentally limiting customers’ and children’s choices.”

Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister, Jo Swinson, is the power behind the Your Life campaign – which is encourages young people, especially girls, to consider science, technology, engineering and maths careers – and pledge to take action to increase the numbers of women working in the sector.

Letter to the Guardian – Investment in Science

Letter published in the Guardian, Weds 3rd December

From Lib Dem Team Science 

Continued investment in science in the next parliament is vital

• We were disappointed to read of the science minister Greg Clark’s unwillingness to commit to a continued ringfencing of science spending in the Conservative party’s manifesto for 2015 (via interview in Research Fortnight, 12 November). Despite expressing a hope that his party’s support of science research would “continue and deepen”, the minister declined to give assurances on a continued ringfence of the science budget if the Conservatives were re-elected.

As a group of Liberal Democrat MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates seeking a stronger voice for science and engineering in the next parliament, we are proud that our party has already committed to continuing the ringfencing of the science budget, and providing greater public funding on a longer timescale. We have challenged the other parties to match our ambition for a 3% above inflation increase for the next 15 years – so far, none of them have backed us on this.

Investment in science and engineering stimulates economic growth: every pound invested in medical research generates an estimated ongoing return of 30p per year (Wellcome Trust, MRC and Academy of Medical Sciences); a report released last month showed the UK’s space sector growing at 7% per year, employing over 34,000 people and supporting an additional 72,000 jobs downstream.

In the months leading up to the election, we will continue to make the case for greater investment in the UK’s Stem research, and hope to build consensus among all parties for a secure and sustainable science budget.
Dr Julian Huppert MP Cambridge, Simon Wright MP Norwich South, Judith Bunting PPC, Newbury, Lucy Care PPC, Derby North, Layla Moran PPC, Oxford West and Abingdon, Dr Jenny Woods PPC, Reading East, Dr Ed Long Campaign organiser, Team Science

More information about Team Science can be found, here: http://aldes.org.uk/teamscience/?p=78

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