Liberal Democrats call for £4m extra for NHS and social care in Newbury & West Berkshire

 

Ahead of this week’s budget the Liberal Democrats called for a £4 billion funding boost for NHS and care services. That would have amounted to a cash injection of £4 million for local NHS services in the Newbury and District CCG and £5.9m for social care across West Berkshire. The Budget announced by the Government today will instead see the share of national income spent on the NHS fall in the coming years.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government’s failure to provide enough extra cash for the NHS in the budget, warning that local services will struggle to cope with growing demand.

NHS services in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West, the area which will oversee healthcare here in the coming years, currently face a funding gap of £479m by 2020-21, analysis of local NHS plans has found. The NHS funding crisis also risks being made even worse by the Government’s hard Brexit plans, which are set to increase borrowing by £100bn in the coming years.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Judith Bunting commented:

“The Government is refusing to stump up the extra cash that NHS services in Newbury and West Berkshire so desperately need.

“This is a woefully inadequate response to the impossible pressure our NHS and care services are under.

“Chronic underfunding of our NHS is leading to longer waiting lists, cancelled operations and loved ones being stranded in hospital.

“Only the Liberal Democrats are being upfront with people that to protect our NHS and care services, we may all need to pay a little more in tax.

“We will also stand up against Theresa May’s reckless plans to pull out of the Single Market that will blow a £100 billion hole in the public finances. It’s clear you can’t have strong NHS and care services with a hard Brexit.”

The £4 billion of extra NHS and care funding , called for ahead of the Spring Budget 2017-18, included £2bn for social care, £1.5bn to improve efficiency in the NHS and £500m dedicated funding for mental health.

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The photo above shows Judith Bunting with Sybil Flinn, at the Hungerford Resource Centre in 2013.

 

“I think it is almost lemming like …”

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What could be done to minimise the potential impact of Brexit on your business?

Here is a selection of comments from the local business people who completed the Liberal Democrats’ West Berkshire Business Brexit Survey. Businesses are not named, as many prefer to to keep their worries anonymous:

(Thanks to Arranology for use of the cartoon, above.)

What could be done to minimise the potential impact of Brexit on your business?

  • Stay in the EU.  Brexit will destroy our business.
  • Don’t do it! Seriously I think a raft of guarantees have to be forthcoming IMMEDIATELY from the government.
  • Not leave the EU.
  • Clarity is needed on the long term support for farming and conservation in the UK. Investment in farm infrastructure is costly and needs the ability to plan for the long term. Uncertainty and the lack of planning is a real risk to our charity and to many local farm businesses.
  • Remaining in the EU, keeping single market and freedom of movement.
  • Stay in single market and allow free movement of people across Europe.
  • Stay in the EU! Full membership of Single Market and Customs Union essential if this is not possible.
  • Remain within the free market and avoid putting limits on EU workers.
  • Gov’t to stop imposing austerity measures and new initiatives that mask the impact of change – personally I think it is almost lemming like and we look set to leaping off the White Cliffs of Dover before the dangers are realised – which will be an extreme disappointment!
  • Get on and pull us out as soon as possible.
  • Leave eu as soon as possible.
  • Less project fear from remoaners.
  • Nothing, lets just look forward to a brighter and independent future trading with the world.
  • Negotiate in good faith and show goodwill.
  • Sourcing UK products. We can do little else. We are reliant on consumers having enough weekly spend to continue to purchase our products and use our services.
  • No Visas, no clamping down on immigration, a lot of people I employ and work with are from the EU and it would be difficult to replace them. People looking down on Britain for the decision and our standing in the world.
  • Beyond the effect of the falling pound.  We have products to EU trading standards – our producers will not want to get involved in UK standards as well and we have not got the resource for expensive lab testing.
  • Staying in customs union is critical to us. Also, v important to keep access to EU science & engineering funding/research programmes such as Horizon 2020.
  • Change as little as possible from status quo – stability is key. EU Workers a key source of Workers, there is already a shortage of labour with the right skills from this country and even the EU.
  • Tax reduction.
  • Not go ahead with it! Brexit is a business nightmare and to push ahead when only a quarter of the population choose it, (and a mainly elderly quarter at that, whose working lives are over) is utter folly. Not quite sure where they think their pensions are going to be coming from, or how we will fund the NHS to keep looking after them when the get ill and face end of life. Business is this country’s lifeblood and Brexit threatens to chop it off at the roots.
  • Stay in the single market.

“It is the effect on access to European labour that worries us and the risk of inflation.”

im-so-angry-i-made-a-sign-_-fuck-brexit-roskilde-festiva-_-flickrIf the UK does not have membership of or full access to the single market, what impact would this have on your business?

Here is a selection of comments from the local business people who completed the Liberal Democrats’ West Berkshire Business Brexit Survey. Businesses are not named, as many prefer to to keep their worries anonymous:

If the UK does not have membership of or full access to the single market, what impact would this have on your business?

  • It would significantly handicap our ability to deliver services and products to Europe. Considering Europe is where the majority of our business takes place, it is highly likely that we will leave the U.K.
  • It is the effect on access to European labour that worries us and the risk of inflation.
  • Risk of high value, time-sensitive goods being held up in customs, especially as much of our supply chain is non-EU. Late delivery to our key customer would result in contract termination, so we will have to assume customs delays & build early, increasing our inventory costs.
  • Higher prices.

  • Cost of raw materials would rise hence cost of product would rise.
  • Problems with customs delaying shipment. Tariffs also a concern. Medical devices regulated by the Medical Devices Directive from EU, with MHRA responsible for policing in the U.K. What happens after Brexit to these regulations?
  • I would lose business as my clients cut back on consultancy services.
  • Small businesses will have less money to spend. Large companies will remove their HQs from London. Our clients will not be interested in marketing to the British, they will look elsewhere.
  • Without EU membership our business is decimated

  • Very little.

  • Very little as we can operate under WTO rules.

  • Anticipate an increase in paperwork, more difficult shipping of products, and possible travel problems for visiting customers.

  • I would lose business as my clients cut back on consultancy services.

  • Deferred and lack of business confidence will effect commercial property market businesses relocating to Europe will suppress demand.

What Other Councils Do …

 

If anyone tries to tell you that it’s unrealistic to fight the cuts being imposed by the conservatives on West Berkshire Council, here’s a little ammunition:

Eastleigh Borough Council has a £150m asset management plan which has enabled 13 years of real term cuts in council tax and NO CUTS TO FRONT LINE SERVICES.

Eastleigh Borough has a population of ~129,000 and the Council has been Lib Dem controlled since 1994.

Meanwhile, in West Berks, our Conservative Council over the past 9 years has sold off all kinds of assets, retained no interest in commercial developments and allowed major employers to leave our area. Result?  We face many significant cuts.

Where is our Council’s foresight?  Where is the planning?  Where is the hard-headed determination to do the best for West Berks?

 

MORE DETAIL:

Regarding Eastleigh, the broadbrush headlines, which I guess is what you want, are that back during the financial crash, faced with the failing of a major local venue, Eastleigh Council didn’t kick Hampshire Cricket Club out (as WBC are doing currently with Newbury FC). Rather, the council stepped in as funder. They BOUGHT THE GROUND and leased it back. With a major Hilton Hotel, conference and banqueting facility and spa on site, plus an 18 hole golf course, they have ended up with:

* net income at maturity to council on roughly £35m investment of £1m each year

* 500 on and off site jobs for economy created

* annual local economic impact £50m

* venue saved and one of top wold cricket grounds created

In contrast to the above, when sitting on the Faraday Road site which included light industry, potential for housing and larger development, and a football ground – The conservative run council in West Berkshire Council sat on its hands. 

I heard it personally from Gordon Lundie: WBC did not develop the Faraday Road Site earlier because of the financial crash.

What Eastleigh did in 2008 is a fantastic example of how a forward thinking council, that wants to invest in the local community and infrastructure, can make things work.

The Aegeas Bowl, as the development above is now called, is only part of the £150m asset management plan that Eastleigh Council have developed which has enabled 13 years of real term cuts in council tax and no front line service cuts.

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Reasons to vote Liberal Democrat


While in government the Lib Dem team has put through some of the most common sense, socially democratic policies this country has seen for a generation. 

If I am elected to Westminster, whether we are in Coalition with Labour or Tories or no one, I will work with our team to do more of the same. 

My Manifesto priorities are below. If you would like to browse the whole document, pls click here:

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A World Class Education:  Education is the top priority for Liberal Democrats.  In government, we will guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class.

The only way we will achieve greater equality in the country is to make sure everyone has the chance to make the most of what they were born with, whether you’re a high achiever or work with special educational needs.

Prosperity: We want to balance the budget fairly. To do this we will cut some, but no where near as much as the Tories, who are planning £12bn out of welfare (compared to our £3.5bn of cuts). We will raise the additional funds by extending Council Tax bands – let’s have the same rule for all.

Once we’ve caught up with the deficit, we look forward to investing to build a high-skill, low-carbon economy.

Quality health care: We have a clear plan to allow us to invest £8 billion in the NHS by 2020. We are already investing large sums and have a plan for £3.5bn for mental health treatments in the next year. We will continue our campaign to guarantee equal care for mental health.

Fair taxes: Raising the Personal Allowance from £6,800 to £10,600 has been a huge change that only happened because Lib Dems were in the coalition. Isn’t it great that all the other parties have taken the policy on board? A fundamental change to British society that’s benefitting 45,600 people in West Berkshire. 

In the next parliament we would continue the plan  £12,500, cutting your taxes by an additional £400.

Science: A Liberal Democrat government would introduce a package of measures supporting innovation in UK businesses. The manifesto also includes ringfencing of the science research budget and introducing a green innovation arm to the British Business Bank.

Environment protected: We will continue protecting nature and fight climate change with five green laws. In the past 5 years we fought day by day to protect the green agenda. We have doubled investment in renewable energy and almost tripled renewable energy generation. 15% of all UK power now comes from renewables.

Climate change is critical and we will continue this focus, with the target of having 60% UK energy coming from renewables by 2030.

Housing: Locally and nationally Lib Dems will work to bring empty properties into use, speed up housebuilding and introduce new Help to Rent and Rent to Own schemes for youngsters in work without the means to afford deposits for rental or home purchase.

We would pursue a plan of building Garden Cities in parts of the UK where they are welcomed. We would double council tax on second homes to discourage the buy to let market. This is a very tempting investment while bank interest rates are so low, but it’s helped accelerate the boost in house prices and in rents.

Vote Education

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The Liberal Democrats will protect public spending on education to build a fairer society that offers opportunity to all.

It’s essential to protect the education budget, in real terms, from cradle to college, including schools, early years and the Department for Education’s 16-19 budget.

The Party has also voted to introduce a fair national funding formula, to ensure areas that are currently underfunded get their fair share.

The Lib Dems have a record of delivering a fairer education system. The Pupil Premium, introduced by the Lib Dems in Government, helps children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to catch up and keep up with their better off classmates.

Meanwhile the Tory Party have set out plans to decimate budgets for schools, nurseries and colleges and admitted capital budgets would be under attack in a majority Conservative government.

Judith Bunting, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Newbury and West Berkshire Liberal Democrats said:

“I am delighted that Liberal Democrats have backed plans to protect education budgets including schools, early years and 16-19 education.

“You can’t recruit great teachers, raise standards and cut the attainment gap unless our education system is properly funded.

“Conservative plans to slash education budgets would be a disaster for children, young people and their families.”

Lib Dem Schools Minister David Laws MP said:

“The Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting cradle to college spending in the Department for Education, as we have done for schools in this parliament.

“We have a record of delivering a fairer schooling system. Our Pupil Premium, taken from the front page of our last manifesto, has got extra money to the children who need the most help. Now we are making a promise of more.

“Education spending is a real investment – good for growth and essential for creating a fairer society. Our plans will ensure every child has the best possible start in life and the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

 

The Importance of the Rural Bus

East Ilsley and Compton (bus shelter + water table full) 010413 010gd

I recently visited Ivy in Ashmore Green. A woman in her eighties, Ivy is still bright and lively. When I met her, she had recently given up driving and was still reeling from discovering that her local busservice, the 76, that connects Ashmore Green to the rest of the world, runs once a week.

Now, all credit to Jacs Minicoaches for running this service, but abus that runs just once a week is not something around which you can build a life. A thriving community depends on more than just driving-age adults.

* How are youngsters supposed to get to school or take part in after-school sports clubs, revision sessions, dance, drama and music, if buses are cut?

* How are young people who can’t afford driving lessons or insurance supposed to get to work?

* How are our older residents, no longer confident with driving but still keen to visit friends, do their shopping and generally get involved in our local communities supposed to manage without buses?

A National Survey about bus services by Passenger Focus highlighted the how those living in countryside villages like East Ilsley and Inkpen as well as towns like Hungerford and Thatcham, regard better public transport as lifeline. If busservices were not available around half the people who responded to the survey say they would have been unable to make their journey. One third of respondents said the option to drive or get a lift was either impossible or very inconvenient. Not everyone has a Mum or Dad, or son or daughter standing by with a car to hand.

Rural pubs and shops benefit from good local bus services, but protecting rural transport is about more than economics. Keeping people connected builds community, and community builds health and happiness.

The government has introduced a scheme where Local Authorities can apply to become Better Bus Areas, which come with funding attached. These BBA grants are designed to provide an effective way of growing local bus markets, and so ensuring the survival of bus services. The deadline for our Council to apply for West Berks to become a Better BusArea is 21st June 2013.

How are people in our rural towns and villages meant to manage without public transport? Let’s cherish the services we have and help them extend and expand.

To keep up to date with Judith’s Views and activities around West Berks go to:http://www.facebook.com/JudithBuntingforNewbury

To follow her on Twitter, go to: https://twitter.com/JudithBuntingLD

Let me tell you a story … Tax Cut for 45,000 people in West Berks

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Raising the amount we earn before we start paying any tax is a key Lib Dem policy. The changes we have made in government mean our kids now don’t pay tax until they earn £10,000. After April this year, it will be £10,500. By the time the election hits, it will mean people hardest hit by austerity have had a cushion of £800 a year to help cope. Indeed, the idea of taking the worst off in society out of tax is so reasonable, logical and popular it’s been taken up by all the major parties for their 2015 manifestos.

But where did the idea come from? Let me tell you a story ….

ELIZABETH JEWKES  is the woman you need to thank. Elizabeth was the parliamentary candidate in Chester, in 2009. She felt that the government of the time (Labour) should have been supporting working people more. Her local party reports what Elizabeth said at the time as follows:

” ‘No one who only earns the Minimum Wage should be paying income tax’ she says. ‘The government recognises that people cannot live on the Minimum Wage. So we have the nonsense of the government taking taxes from people, only to give some of it back in the form of Working Tax Credits. Wouldn’t it make more sense to allow people to keep more of their hard earned wages? If the Income Tax threshold was raised to £11,174 then every adult who works full time would be £20 a week better off. Putting £1,000 a year back into the pockets of working people and helping to improve their quality of life.’ ”

Elizabeth discussed the idea with Vince Cable when he visited Manchester in the October of 2008 and he agreed it was excellent idea. With support from Vince and Jo Swinson, MP, Elizabeth presented her policy suggestion at the Lib Dem policy conference at the London School of Economics the following January, where it received an enthusiastic reception.

The idea was adopted by the Lib Dems at the Conference in Bournemouth in 2009. And then, we had the chance to deliver the policy in government … 

The result of the change is that 3 million people across the UK have been taken out of tax since 2010. When we arrived in government the tax threshold for most people was £6,475. After April 2015 no one will pay any tax until they earn £10,500. Not bad, eh?

Personally, I am glad that when times have been so hard we’ve been able to offer this little help to lower earners. Middle income earners also benefit. In West Berkshire, by the time the election hits, ~45,000 people will have benefited from Elizabeth Jewkes’ good idea. 

This is Lib Dem Values in action.

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This story goes to show that party members can shape and influence the party’s direction. If you have good, liberal ideas I’d like to hear. If you’re not already a member, you can join us here.

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The original story from Chester Lib Dems: http://chesterlibdems.org.uk/2009/02/04/elizabeth-jewkes-calls-for-lower-taxes-for-the-low-paid/

Caron Lindsey’s report in Lib Dem voice: http://www.libdemvoice.org/why-its-worth-being-a-member-of-the-liberal-democrats-33779.html

Protecting Education

Judith Bunting reading with Finn and his mum, Kirilynn Gardner from Chaddleworth
Judith Bunting reading with Finn and his mum, Kirilynn Gardner from Chaddleworth

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The Liberal Democrats will protect public spending on education to build a fairer society that offers opportunity to all.

Lib Dem members have agreed to protect the education budget, in real terms, from cradle to college, including schools, early years and the Department for Education’s 16-19 budget. The Party will also extend the free early years entitlement to all two year olds.

The Party has also voted to introduce a fair national funding formula, to ensure areas that are currently underfunded get their fair share.

The Lib Dems have a record of delivering a fairer education system. The Pupil Premium, introduced by the Lib Dems in Government, helps children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to catch up and keep up with their better off classmates.

Meanwhile the Tory Party have set out plans to decimate budgets for schools, nurseries and colleges and admitted capital budgets would be under attack in a majority Conservative government.

Judith Bunting, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Newbury and West Berkshire Liberal Democrats said:

“I am delighted that Liberal Democrats have backed plans to protect education budgets including schools, early years and 16-19 education.

“You can’t recruit great teachers, raise standards and cut the attainment gap unless our education system is properly funded.

“Conservative plans to slash education budgets would be a disaster for children, young people and their families.”

Lib Dem Schools Minister David Laws MP said:

“The Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting cradle to college spending in the Department for Education, as we have done for schools in this parliament.

“We have a record of delivering a fairer schooling system. Our Pupil Premium, taken from the front page of our last manifesto, has got extra money to the children who need the most help. Now we are making a promise of more.

“Education spending is a real investment – good for growth and essential for creating a fairer society. Our plans will ensure every child has the best possible start in life and the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”