Letter from the Leader: Notes from an island
High Speed Rail 2 will build a stronger economy and a fairer society
“HS2 is a huge leap forward for our rail network and will improve connectivity for generations to come.
“Liberal Democrats support HS2 because it will build a stronger economy and a fairer society, creating 40,000 direct and thousands more indirect jobs, as well as bridge the gap between the north and south. And that’s before you consider the economic benefits to the wider areas serviced by HS2.
“In assessing the value of HS2 we must look at all the overall benefits, including for passengers by increasing capacity on existing lines and significantly cutting the travel time, and to the environment by reducing our reliance on domestic flights and transferring millions of journeys from road to rail.”
Building a stronger economy
“While it is disappointing that overall unemployment is up, it is good news that youth unemployment has fallen as that will be encouraging for young people who are looking for work.
“To build a stronger economy in a fairer society, Liberal Democrats have been focusing on giving young people the skills and experience necessary for a successful career.
“That is why Nick Clegg has introduced the £1bn Youth Contract that will ensure young people have the opportunity to earn or learn and Business Secretary Vince Cable has overseen the creation of more than 1m apprenticeships.
“We will continue to work hard to get more people in employment and build a stronger economy.”
Nick Clegg speech at the Africa Jubilee Business Forum
Let me first thank the African Diplomatic Corps, African Heads of Mission and Commonwealth Business Council for inviting me to open this business forum and for organising this event.
Today is a chance for all of us to recognise the businesses and jobs being created by African and British entrepreneurs together. And to focus on securing the wealth of investment opportunities available to us in the future. So I’m also pleased to see so many business leaders here with us as well.
It’s a fitting tribute, I think, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union. I want to welcome my old friend Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus – Chairman of the Executive Council of the African Union – as we recognise and celebrate some of the achievements of that partnership.
Five decades ago, the Organisation of African Unity was there to help countries across the region transition from colonial rule. And as the African Union, it is there again now to support the continent as it takes on an increasingly global role.
On a recent visit to Mozambique and Ethiopia, I saw for myself how successful businesses, both large and small, are transforming millions of people’s day-to-day lives.
In Ethiopia, for example, I met female entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. What others saw as scrap, Bethlehem saw as a business opportunity.
Her company Sole Rebels, which turns old car tyres into shoes, now employs around 80 people. It’s an enterprise that’s transforming the lives not just of Bethlehem and her workers, but also their families and the people they do business with elsewhere.
As a quick aside, Bethlehem would never forgive me if I didn’t tell you that you can buy her shoes online, here in the UK. I still wear the fabulously comfortable and very brightly coloured shoes that I got from her myself earlier this year.
Also Vodafone’s innovative M-Pesa system. Recently launched in Mozambique, it’s a money transfer service enabling people to carry out financial transactions on their mobile phones.
Started first in Kenya, with investment from Vodafone and support from the UK Government, this extends access to vital banking services for millions of people, who would otherwise only be able to trade in cash.
In Kenya alone, there are now 17 million users, with around 10% of Kenya’s GDP being processed through the system per year.
What these stories show us is the positive change that success, however big or small, can bring. Seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa.
Recent research shows that almost a quarter of African countries’ GDP grew at 7% or higher in 2012. It’s estimated that that growth across the continent could rival China in years to come.
Now that’s a story worth telling, but one often lost in the customary narrative of conflict and instability in Africa. So it’s time to rewrite the script. Africa is being transformed: once perceived by the outside world as merely a continent in distress; now looked to as a great continent of opportunity.
And as Africa’s presence on the global stage increases, we need to secure economic success for every country in the region. For the good of Africa, for the good of the UK and for the good of the world.
Everybody, of course, wants growth – the key decision is how you achieve it. More and more African countries face a choice between the economic models of authoritarian capitalism, on the one hand, and liberal democracy, on the other.
In countries like China, authoritarian capitalism argues the case for economic growth ahead of political freedoms. And it’s a seductive argument in view of surging growth rates, which have occurred in the absence of political freedom.
But ultimately it is a false promise. My view, the liberal view, is that economic progress and political rights are inseparable. They are parallel tracks, each reinforcing the other.
Fairness, freedom, empowerment, education, the rule of law – these are not so-called Western values. They are the values that will underpin healthy economies across the globe, long into the future.
And in a world of younger populations, growing middle classes and technological innovations that allow relationships and communities to form across traditional state borders, the demand for both economic success and political freedom – will only increase. Lasting stability depends not just on opening up our economies, but creating open societies too.
As nations across Africa continue to grow and prosper, the UK will seek to be an effective partner. First, in terms of the UK’s own changing relationship with Africa. And second, how the UK through European and international channels, not least our current G8 presidency, is determined to address the fundamental barriers to further growth and investment in Africa and the rest of the world.
Our focus is more trade; fairer tax; and greater business transparency.
The UK remains a strong partner with Africa. I’m proud that we will honour our commitment to spend 0.7% of this nation’s wealth helping the world’s poorest countries.
As you may know, legislation to enshrine this commitment in law was not included in last week’s Queen’s Speech – it’s an issue that has proved highly controversial amongst some Conservative MPs – but I’m pleased that the Coalition Government in its deeds and actions will continue to meet our commitments abroad: and our actions show that we will not balance the books on the backs of the world’s poorest.
But we also understand that aid must be properly targeted and that longer-term success depends on supporting businesses and trade in new and emerging markets.
UK companies already export more to Africa than they do to Brazil, India and Russia combined. That’s good, but we can always do more.
Especially, if we’re to compete effectively with companies and governments in Europe and elsewhere, who are making a determined push to seek out their own opportunities in Africa.
In line with Africa’s vision for a Continental Free Trade Area and the African Mining Initiative, we also want to explore how the G8 can help to unblock trade corridors across Africa, building on the successful trade facilitation programmes run by the DFID-supported Trademark East Africa.
As well as what Britain can do bilaterally, there is also the question of what Europe can do collectively. We are two great neighbouring continents joined by the Mediterranean.
Yet somehow, I don’t feel the EU acts with the coherence and leadership, which Africa deserves.
Other world powers, notably China, have a clear and consistent strategy: China invests big. It invests fast in pursuit of clear economic objectives.
I believe the EU could and should offer an alternative approach – one that can contribute to lasting success in Africa built on economic, political and social reform. Prosperity and stability in Africa and Europe are mutually reinforcing: when Europe fails, Africa is affected; when Africa fails, Europe is affected. So we must work together, continent to continent, so we both succeed.
Through the UK’s presidency of the G8, we are also keen to focus the agenda on issues that are fundamental not only to your success, but also, in the long-term, our own and the rest of the world.
Eight years ago at Gleneagles, we secured an agreement to cancel debt for the world’s poorest countries and to double aid. That action contributed to strong economic performances across Africa over the last decade.
Working together again now, focused on the 3Ts of Trade, Transparency and Tax, we can achieve even more.
Over the next decade revenues from newly discovered extractive resources in Africa will increase massively, dwarfing aid volumes.
In 2010 exports of oil and minerals from Africa were worth £216 billion – nearly seven times the value of international aid in the same year - £31 billion.
Too often in the past such revenues have bypassed Africans - due to unfair tax systems and opaque business deals. Lining the pockets of the few. Denying investment and jobs for the many. That has to stop.
We want to make sure Africans receive their fair share from the resources they have and the business they do. That demands fairer tax rules and greater transparency around what is being paid for oil, gas and mining resources and where the profits then flow.
We are pushing for more companies to report on the revenues they pay to governments, and for more governments to report on the revenues they receive.
The EU has just agreed legislation that will require all oil, gas and mining companies listed in Europe to publish what they pay to governments, in line with the US. Through the G8, we are pushing for equivalent standards to be applied globally.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative sets a global standard for this. The UK helped establish EITI in 2003 and has been one of its staunchest backers. We’re now actively considering whether and how the UK should implement this initiative.
We also want to support greater transparency around land transactions; and to publish more G8 government data, including about aid budgets, in an open and accessible format – so it’s of real use to citizens across the world. Information empowers citizens and allows them to take control of their own development. Governments across the world must be accountable to their citizens.
Equally important is ensuring that tax regimes are transparent and efficient. Already, the UK’s flagship governance programme in Ethiopia has helped their authorities increase tax revenue from £8.2bn per year in 2002 to £55bn in 2011.
Only in partnership together – developed and developing countries- can we ensure our systems work as they should. These tax revenues are integral to deliver the infrastructure and skills that will drive growth in the future.
The Prime Minister and I will be chairing a high-level G8 event on 15 June to drive forward progress on tax, trade and transparency. We want to discuss with businesses, NGOs and governments how to achieve real progress on the agenda.
So today is about celebrating the next 50 years of Africa’s unity. We can’t ignore the challenges we face, but we also need to focus on the major, growing commercial opportunities that do exist. Building on our work together through the African Union, EU and G8 and directly with African States, I can see opportunities that benefit both Africa and the UK.
Today’s forum is another important step in the right direction. I look forward to hearing the outcome of your discussions. Our relationship with Africa remains strong, but is changing.
We are partners focused on growth, jobs and security. So let’s look to the next fifty years of the African Union and the success of our work together in the future.
Letter from the Leader: The Queen's Speech
A Queen’s Speech for a stronger economy and a fairer society
- That’s why we are introducing a bill cutting National Insurance Contributions for small businesses.
- Our Energy Bill will create green jobs and growth, supporting as many as 250,000 jobs in the private sector.
- Legislation for High Speed 2 will bring in the first main line to be built north of London for almost 120 years, creating another 100,000 jobs.
- Our bill modernising intellectual property rights will save millions of pounds for some of our most innovative companies.
- Liberal Democrat pensions minister Steve Webb’s Pensions Bill will make saving for retirement simpler and fairer.
- We are introducing a Care Bill to cap social care costs so that pensioners do not have to sell their homes to fund their long-term care. These are the kind of important long-term reforms that Labour always ducked.
- We are helping families with the cost of childcare, supporting people who want to get back to work but feel they cannot afford to.
- The Queen’s Speech includes measures to reward companies that play by the rules. We will be expanding the General Anti Abuse Rule to cover big firms that try to get out of paying National Insurance, and our Consumer Rights Bill will make it easier for people to ensure they get good value for money.
- And because we want Britain to be a place that attracts people who will play by the rules and make a contribution, an Immigration Bill will be brought forward to clamp down on people from overseas who abuse our public services.
- We will make sure people feel safer in their own communities. In this session we will introduce a new Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill that will do more to keep our neighbourhoods safe and secure. Our Offender Rehabilitation Bill will also transform the way offenders are dealt with once they leave prison, tackling persistent reoffending.
- Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill: will introduce new powers to tackling anti-social behaviour, giving victims a say in the way their complaints are dealt with; strengthen powers to tackle irresponsible dog ownership; establish the powers of the College of Policing in statute; extend the powers of the Independent Police Complaints Commission; establish an independent review body on police pay and conditions; criminalised forced marriage; and target the use of illegal firearms
- Care Bill: will simplify and modernise the framework for care and support; implement the cap on care costs that people will spend in their lifetime; introduce a number of measures in response to the Francis Inquiry, including a ratings system for hospitals and care homes, a single failure regime and a statutory duty of candour.
- Consumer Rights Bill (draft): will set out a simple, modern framework of consumer rights to promote growth through competitive markets.
- Defence Reform Bill: will improve the way we procure and support defence equipment and enhance the use of the Reserve Forces.
- Deregulation Bill (draft): will reduce the burden of excessive or unnecessary regulation on businesses, organisations and individuals
- Energy Bill (carry over): reforms the energy market to ensure secure, clean and affordable energy. The Bill was introduced in November 2012 and will continue its passage in the third session
- European Union (Approvals) Bill: will provide Parliamentary approval under the European Union Act 2011 for ministers to vote in favour of various proposals in Brussels: Pericles (anti-euro counterfeiting); Europe for Citizens (EU civic integration); and EU Archives (formalising the depositing of EU documents in an archive).
- Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill: will extend the scope of the regulatory regime currently governing remote gambling, providing greater consumer protection for people in Great Britain.
- High Speed Two Preparation Bill: will provide Parliamentary approval to incur expenditure on preparatory works for HS2 in advance of the planned Hybrid Bill.
- High Speed Two Hybrid Bill: will provide powers to construct and operate the London to West Midlands leg of the national High Speed 2 network (known as phase 1)
- Immigration Bill: will reform immigration law, including provisions to strengthen our enforcement powers and protect public services.
- Intellectual Property Bill: will simplify and strengthen design protection; make the IP system more accessible to SMEs and increase legal certainty and reduce risks in IP intensive markets.
- Local Audit and Accountability Bill: will close the Audit Commission, make new arrangements for the audit of local public bodies and increase local accountability by extending the Council Tax referendum lock to other levying bodies and putting the local government publicity code on a statutory footing.
- Mesothelioma Bill: will establish a Diffuse Mesothelioma payment Scheme and make related provision; and to make provision about the resolution of certain insurance disputes.
- National Insurance Contributions Bill: will extend the General Anti-Abuse Rule to National Insurance Contributions; introduce a National Insurance employment allowance of £2,000, reducing the cost of employment; prevent the use of offshore employment payroll companies to avoid employer National Insurance Contributions; and remove the presumption for self-employment for limited liability partnerships in some circumstances.
- Northern Ireland Bill: will give effect to a number of changes which will improve the operation of institutions and politics in Northern Ireland.
- Offenders Rehabilitation Bill: will ensure offenders will all be supervised after release and all offenders serving short sentences will have 12 months supervision; create a new rehabilitation requirement for community sentences; and provide incentives to offender management providers to innovate to reduce reoffending.
- Pensions Bill: will introduce a single-tier pension system, bring forward the increase in State Pension age to 67 and lay the framework for its regular review. It will also introduce a system for the automatic transfer of small pension pots.
- Water Bill: will reform the water industry in England and Wales and will also ensure flood insurance remains available and affordable in areas of high flood risk throughout the United Kingdom.
- Welsh Assembly Bill (draft): will move the National Assembly for Wales from four to five year fixed terms; remove the ban on candidates at an Assembly election standing in both a constituency and a region; and ensure that members of the Assembly cannot at the same time be members of the House of Commons.
Letter from the Leader 4 May 2013: Thank you
Danny Alexander "Check your pay slip"
Raising the tax-free allowance is the Liberal Democrats’ flagship policy and has so far seen Income Tax bills slashed by £600 a year for millions of low and middle income workers compared to what they were paying under Labour. As a result, more than 2m people on low pay have been lifted out of paying Income Tax altogether.
The tax-free allowance will rise again next year to £10,000, fulfilling a commitment from the front page of the Liberal Democrats’ 2010 General Election manifesto and resulting in a total tax cut of £700.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:
“If you get paid today, take a moment to compare your pay slip to last month’s. You’ll see that Liberal Democrats have cut your taxes.
“From this month, the Liberal Democrats will have lifted 2m people out of Income Tax and given a tax cut of £600 to more than 20m people.
“It has taken the Liberal Democrats being in Government to deliver the largest programme of tax cuts for working people for a generation.
“The Liberal Democrats are the only party that will radically cut taxes for people on low and middle incomes to build a stronger economy and a fairer society so that everyone can get on in life.”
Click to Tweet:
- Happy Pay Day! Check your pay slip & you’ll see @libdems have cut your taxes pic.twitter.com/FgFNzAHwIu
‘Snoopers’ Charter’ unacceptable and wrong
“I am delighted that Nick Clegg has stood up for the British public on this.
“He was right to demand that these proposals be published as a draft, which gave us all a chance to see just how badly thought through the Home Office proposals were. And he is now right to say that what the Home Office propose is unacceptable.
“Spending billions of pounds to keep track of every website we go to and what we do on Facebook or Google, is simply wrong. If we want to actually cut crime then we should spend the extra money on the police.”
Liberal Democrat Party Political Broadcast: Fairer Taxes
- Make the super-rich pay their fair share.
- Lower taxes for the average worker.
Click to Tweet:
- WATCH: What will you do with #600pounds? http://youtu.be/npd_e2juZOQ
- .@LibDems have cut taxes for working people by #600pounds. What will you do with yours? http://youtu.be/npd_e2juZOQ
- WATCH: @nick_clegg on cutting your taxes by #600pounds. What will you do with yours? http://youtu.be/npd_e2juZOQ
- I’m proud that @LibDems have cut taxes for working people. What will you do with your #600pounds? http://youtu.be/npd_e2juZOQ
- Cutting taxes for working people. Vote @LibDems on May 2nd. http://youtu.be/npd_e2juZOQ
Nick Clegg launches the Liberal Democrat 2013 local election campaign
In three and a half weeks, people up and down the country will elect their local councillors. Each council seat will be fought on different terms. Each neighbourhood has its own, unique needs.
But I bet you that, when all those people are deciding which name to put a cross by on 2 May, ultimately they’ll be asking themselves the same question: ‘While cuts are being made to public spending, who can I rely on to spend the money that is available on the right things?’
‘Which party can I rely on to strike the right balance: taking the difficult decisions to make savings, but doing so the fairest possible way?’ These elections are about one thing: priorities.
Difficult decisions will need to be made in local government, just as in national Government, and people understand that. But they – rightly – expect that their representatives should make the fairest possible decisions.
Next month, in wards across the country, people will be confronted with the same choice. Despite all their stated differences, a vote for Labour or the Tories will be a vote for the same thing.
Their record in local government shows that, even when millions of families are feeling the pinch, they’ll both squander taxpayers’ money on waste, inefficiency and their own vanity projects.
A vote for the Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, is a vote for a party which – wherever we’re in power – does it’s best to spread the burden of austerity fairly, investing in jobs and help for hard-pressed families. Only the Liberal Democrats will build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.
Only the Liberal Democrats have the right priorities in tough times. Just take our tax changes. Today is the first working day of the new tax year. Today, because of Liberal Democrat tax reforms, more of the money you earn will go into your own pocket, and less to the taxman.
That’s because we’ve raised the point at which you start paying income tax, and now over 20 million people will pay £600 less in income tax than they did under Labour.
In households where two people are working, that’s an extra £1200 a year. £1200 to cover energy bills, or car insurance, or mortgage repayments, or to go towards a family holiday.
And next April it’ll go up again. People won’t pay a penny of income tax on the first £10,000 they earn. Millions of the lowest earners won’t pay any at all. At the same time we’ve asked for a bit more from those who can afford it. We’ve increased capital gains tax; introduced a higher rate of stamp duty and a £12.5bn banking levy; we’ve closed loopholes and capped tax relief to stop the very rich from gaming the system. And the Liberal Democrats will continue to argue for our mansion tax. The right priorities in tough times.
I know that Labour are trying desperately to gloss over these changes. They want to pretend that the only tax change this week is the reduction of the top rate, from 50p to 45p. But it’s the same old selective amnesia we always get from the two Eds about Labour's time in office.
Out of the 13 years they were in power, Labour had the 50p rate in place for just 36 days. For most of the time, Labour’s top rate was 40p. Not 45p. Not 50p. 40p – 5p less than now. And under the previous government a cleaner paid a higher rate of tax on their wages than a hedge fund manager selling their shares - a gross unfairness that we have fixed.
The sudden, synthetic fury we’re seeing from the Labour party is nothing more than an attempt to distract people from the most important change coming into effect: the tax cut for ordinary working people delivered by the Liberal Democrats.
That policy was on the front page of our manifesto, it’s been my priority from the moment we entered the Coalition, and now millions of people will feel the benefits.
In every single year of this Parliament the rich will pay a greater share of our nation's tax revenues than in any one year of the last government. The IFS have confirmed that, as a result of our changes, the wealthiest 10% of people are making the greatest contribution. So I will take no lectures from the Labour party on tax – the Liberal Democrats are making the tax system fair.
And it’s not just in Whitehall that we’re making the right choices, but in Liberal Democrat Town Halls too. Our councillors, like all councillors, have had to take some controversial decisions – I don’t deny that.
But look at our record and it’s clear that, wherever we can, Liberal Democrats are spreading the burden fairly, investing in ways that enable everyone to get on in life, not just the well off. That’s why, for example, this year the Liberal Democrats haven’t closed a single library.
Who have we done that for? For the bright teenager who comes from a chaotic home, but who wants a place to study so they can do well in their exams and go on to something better.
For the ambitious young men and women whose parents can’t afford to buy them the books and technology they need, but who want to forge a different path. And, despite money being tight, we’re investing in jobs for these young people too.
In Eastbourne and Watford, the Liberal Democrat councils are giving their town centres a boost – supporting thousands of local jobs. In Eastleigh, the Liberal Democrats are revitalising the local cricket ground so that it can host international test matches – that alone will create 500 new jobs. In Bath we’re supporting high tech start-ups so that they can grow and take on more staff. In Northumberland we're building new council houses this year, providing homes as well as giving the local construction industry a shot in the arm. The right priorities in tough times.
You won’t get that from the Conservatives. In Leicestershire, the former Conservative Council Leader spent £210,000 on his own personal chauffeur. In Somerset, because the Tories have insisted on cutting opening hours for rubbish tips and introducing charges to use them – a “tip tax” – flytipping has rocketed, leaving local residents stuck with the bill for cleaning it up. In the Cotswolds, after announcing nearly one and a half million pounds worth of cuts, how did the Conservative council try to boost staff morale? They hired a motivational magician – costing £19,000.
Here in Cornwall we’ve even seen the Conservative’s waste money hiring taxis to ferry teas and coffees between council buildings – again, while trying to push through an increase in Council tax. A rise Cornish Liberal Democrats successfully stopped. When savings need to be made, you just cannot rely on the Tories to make the fairest decisions. Their instincts drag them in the wrong direction.
And what about Labour? What are their priorities? Today we’ll hear from Ed Miliband about why people should vote for his party. Here’s what he won’t say. He won’t say: Labour are sorry they crashed the economy. And he won’t present a serious and detailed plan to fix the mess they created. That much we know.
The Labour party continue to be a blank page in British politics: they won’t accept for responsibility for what went wrong; they haven’t learnt from their mistakes; they have no ideas for the future. Above all, they are incapable of delivering a stronger economy. And it’s the same from the leadership all the way down.
Do you know how the Labour council in Derby are choosing to spend residents’ money? On emotive street posters passing all the blame for their cuts on to the Coalition Government, costing thousands of pounds – while at the same time they’re looking to make drastic cuts to homelessness services.
The Liberal Democrats are different. Only we can deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society - both. Only we have the right priorities in tough times. And we now have a national and local record to prove it. Our party has a strong story to tell – a story not of promises, but of action.
But people won’t hear our message unless you tell it to them. I know how hard you’re all working. I am grateful for all of the hours you put in. But I need to ask you to work even harder.
If you are fighting an election in your area – deliver more leaflets, canvass more people, make more calls. If you’re not fighting a council election – go somewhere that is, or make calls from wherever you are. Every wing of this party now needs to pull together, reminding our opponents that we have a unity, a resolve and a sense of purpose they could never compete with.
When the Liberal Democrats organise, no one campaigns like we do. Labour know it. The Tories know it. And they are going to throw everything at us – they haven’t forgotten Eastleigh. But guess what? Nor have we. And when you feel that you’ve given all you can, I want you to think back to that great victory.
I want you to remember how good it felt to confound our critics; remember how good it felt to win. It’s time to do it again, Liberal Democrats. Get out there and win.
The Independent Inquiry follows a series of high profile allegations that the party failed to act on complaints of sexual harassment.
The Independent Inquiry is looking at harassment, including sexual harassment, within the Party, how it has been dealt with in the past and recommendations for the future including as to training. It’s remit covers the entire party including staff, elected officials and volunteers.
Helena Morrissey is keen to hear from all those who have relevant experiences and views to help form an accurate picture - whether they are Party members, staff or the public.
The Independent Inquiry will not be making judgements on specific cases or making any assumptions regarding the innocence or guilt of individuals.
Helena Morrissey said:
“While prompted in difficult circumstances, this independent inquiry is a very important step in giving everyone, especially women, a greater confidence in politics and the Liberal Democrats.
“I will be talking to people at all levels of the Party to understand where there may have been failings and to help guide any required culture shift and the development of a best practice set of standards for the future of the Party.”
Commenting, Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Gordon said:
“Following recent allegations it is clear that we in the Liberal Democrats failed to live up to our political ideals.
“We recognise that we need to adapt how we operate. As a political party which prides itself on equality, we must give everyone confidence they will be treated fairly and equally and that they will be listened to.
“It is vital this review is done independently of the party, in a way which can be frank and can scrutinise thoroughly. I am delighted Helena has agreed to chair the review. She has been a leading light in the development of women in business and breaking barriers, and I am sure that she will make an immensely positive difference to both our party and to politics.”
Appeal for witnesses
Helena is keen to hear from all those who have relevant experiences and views to help form an accurate picture, whether they are Party members, staff or the public. This also includes people who are no longer connected to the Liberal Democrats, but who may have information connected to past events. Please pass this appeal for witnesses on to anyone you know might be interested in making a submission.
If you feel you have information which may help or be relevant to the independent review please email it to Helena Morrissey by the (now extended) deadline of 12th April , even if it is just a holding note with further detail to follow.
- Do you have examples of specific incidences of complaints about harassment in the Party, what processes were available to deal with these complaints, were they or were they not followed, were there gaps in policies or procedures for dealing with such complaints?
- Can you provide examples which illustrate weaknesses in the Party’s attitudes and culture – past and present?
- Do you have ideas about what needs to change for the Party to look to the future with confidence that any form of harassment within the Party will be properly dealt with?
How to get in contact with the Independent Inquiry
Please submit written evidence direct to Helena by Friday 12th April to email@example.com.
Or by post to:
Helena MorrisseyA confidential voicemail is also available until 8pm on Friday April 12th on: 0207 340 4998. This phone number is a LibDem HQ number, but it is a voicemail only service which can only be accessed by Helena. Anything sent through the post will go through the standard Royal Mail screening. It and any emails will not be opened by anyone other than Helena.
8-10 Great George Street
Helena Morrissey CBE, Chief executive officer Newton Investment Management Helena joined Newton in 1994 as a fixed income fund manager and was appointed CEO in 2001. During her time running Newton’s bond funds she was twice-winner of Investment Week’s Global Bond Fund Manager of the year.
Helena is involved in many aspects of the UK fund management industry and was named the Financial News ‘Most Influential Woman in European Asset Management’ in 2010. She was the first female director of the UK’s Investment Management Association, serving from 2005 till 2012. She represents the investment industry on the FSA’s Practitioner Panel, a statutory body providing input to the regulators from practitioners’ perspectives . She is a member of the University of Cambridge Endowment Investment Board and chairman of the Eve Appeal, which funds research into gynaecological cancers. Helena is also the Chair of the Corporate Board of the Royal Academy of Arts. In 2010, Helena founded the 30% Club, a cross-business initiative aimed at achieving 30% women on UK corporate boards by 2015 through voluntary, business-led change. She was appointed CBE in the 2012 New Year’s Honours list.
A Cambridge philosophy graduate, she began her career as a global bond analyst with Schroders in New York. She is married with nine children.
Helena Morrissey is being assisted by Jane Smithard, who qualified as a barrister and is a former chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidates Association. Jane’s role is to advise Helena on the party structure and process and will not be involved in any witness statements.
All submissions will be treated in confidence. Helena Morrissey will follow up with a number of those who submit written evidence where a need is felt to explore specific aspects of testimony, either in-person or through other means.
If requested to attend a face to face interview with Helena, witnesses will have their reasonable travel costs covered.
Meetings will be entirely independent of the Party and will not take place within Liberal Democrat associated buildings.
If attending an interview, please feel free to bring a family member or friend with you. Their reasonable travel expenses will also be covered. You are also welcome to bring a legal representative.
Confidential counselling support has also been set up through an independent provider of qualified counsellors. You can access this service at any time. Contact Public Concern at Work on 020 7404 6609 who are acting as the gateway to this service.
The Liberal Democrats have sought the assistance of Public Concern at Work, the UK’s leading whistle-blowing authority, to ensure that the whistle-blowing arrangements in relation to the allegations against Lord Rennard are sufficiently independent to provide the required support to those wishing to come forward.
Public Concern at Work have agreed to take over the role, previously filled by Kate Parminter, as the main point of contact for anyone wishing to come forward with further allegations or information.
Public Concern at Work are also able to provide witnesses with independent and confidential advice. They are able to provide guidance and help to victims with regard to who they should go to in the context of the reviews and investigations under way. They will assist individuals in contacting investigators, only where the individual wishes to do so.
Those wishing to come forward under this arrangement can do so by calling: 020 7404 6609.
If you have already contacted Kate Parminter, she will continue to support you and pass on information to the two investigations (the Independent Inquiry into Harassment within the Party and the Internal Investigation into specific allegations against Lord Rennard) as instructed by you. There is no need to repeat this process with Public Concern at Work, unless you would like to do so.
Confidential counselling support has also been set up through an independent provider of qualified counsellors. You can access this service at any time. Contact Public Concern at Work (020 7404 6609) who are acting as the gateway to this service.
If you have information that may help the police with their inquiries you are strongly encouraged to contact them. You can do so by calling: 0208 721 4601. The initial call will be taken by clerical staff and will then be followed up by specially trained officers.
Internal Party Disciplinary Investigation
The Party has appointed Alistair Webster QC to lead the formal Internal Investigation under the Party’s disciplinary rules into specific allegations. However, please note that the internal disciplinary investigation has been put on hold to allow the police to continue with their investigation.
Alistair has prosecuted and defended many prominent cases. He has been a recorder of the Crown Court since 1991 and a QC since 1995. He is a former Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Lawyers Association and practices from chambers in Manchester and London. He is one of the country’s most experienced criminal lawyers and is currently the joint head of Lincoln House Chambers. In accordance with the party constitution, internal party disciplinary investigations are conducted by people who hold current membership of the party.
A tax cut promised. A tax cut delivered – April 6
Cutting taxes for working people is our number one priority. It is so important to Liberal Democrats that we put it on the front page of our manifesto, argued for it in the coalition negotiations and are delivering it in government.
From 6 April more than 20m working people will be paying £600 a year less than they were under Labour, as the tax threshold rises to £9,440. Someone earning the minimum wage will have seen their Income Tax bill cut in half.
How would you use and extra £600?
Click on each picture to see what they would do with their extra £600
Getting rid of the failed UKBA
“For years the UK Border Agency has failed to get control of immigration and asylum. Labour put the whole border control operation at arm’s length: they ended exit checks and pushed control of our borders away from the Home Office. But they had a backlog of hundreds of thousands of people – they completely lost control of the system.
“After years of neglect the Coalition Government has recognised the scale of the problem and is getting rid of the failed UK Border Agency. I hope this change will begin to get to grips with the immense backlog we face.
“When the agency responsible for immigration – established by Labour – can’t say who is actually in the country, and who should or should not be here, it is no wonder that immigration remains one for the public’s biggest concerns. To fix this, Lib Dems have always argued you have to have a proper enforcement agency and exit checks, and that’s what the Coalition is doing.
“Building a fairer society means making sure everyone plays by the rules. That means an immigration system that works for those who should be here, and acts against those who shouldn’t. Today’s announcement is a big step towards that.”
New rules to stop cover ups of poor care
Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry, recommended that there should be a legal duty of candour to ensure that patients and families are informed if treatment or care has caused death or serious injury.
The Coalition Government has also announced there will be a new role of Chief Inspector of Social Care to oversee the care received by elderly and vulnerable people, whether care homes or in their own home, and to improve standards.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:
“This is a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment that we are delivering on in Coalition. Poor care is simply unacceptable and staff at every level have a professional duty to speak up about it – and we will support them in doing so.
“The last Labour Government ignored calls from the Liberal Democrats and campaigners to introduce a duty of candour.
“The new statutory duty of candour sends a very clear message about the importance of transparency and openness in the NHS.
“The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life. And it’s because we want to make society fairer that we have campaigned for rules to prevent cover ups of poor care.”
Learning the lessons from Beeching
"Dr Beeching’s report sent shockwaves through the British rail industry and resulted in the closure of thousands of stations and the loss of thousands of jobs.
“Liberal Democrats recognise the central importance of an easily accessible public transport system to building a stronger economy in a fairer society.
“That’s why Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government are making huge investments in projects like High Speed Rail and making £20m available to reopen stations closed following the Beeching report.
“We must continue to build on this work and make public transport, including rail, as widely available as possible and a recognised alternative to journeys by car.”
Nick Clegg speech on immigration
Today I want to talk about immigration. Not asylum; that’s an important distinction to make – immigration. The debate is opening up, and that’s a good thing.
We’ve now heard from the Labour party about some of their mistakes in office. And the Prime Minister and I are setting out how the Coalition is correcting those mistakes. Me today, David Cameron on Monday.
The political mainstream has a duty to wrestle this issue away from populists and extremists. A duty to shift what can be a highly polarised debate – particularly in difficult economic times – onto practical and sensible ground. And the Liberal Democrats take that responsibility very seriously.
This morning I will explain why, in order to remain an open and tolerant Britain, we need an immigration system that is zero-tolerant towards abuse. Tolerant Britain, zero-tolerant of abuse. That’s the vision the Coalition is working towards.
Before I do, I want to make one thing clear: the Liberal Democrats will never seek to outflank our opponents because we think that’s what people want to hear.
Yvette Cooper said, recently, that we must avoid an “arms race of rhetoric” on immigration. I agree. That kind of low populism patronizes the British people and it is an insult to the many migrants who have contributed to our country. British society has been shaped by migrant communities in ways more profound than any cliché about chicken tikka masala, or Notting Hill Carnival, or Polish builders can ever express.
I’m the son of a Dutch mother – she, herself, raised in Indonesia; a half-Russian father; husband to a Spanish wife. Like millions of Brits, if you trace our blood lines back through the generations, you end up travelling around the globe. And I’m a liberal. I’m immensely proud of this nation’s wonderful diversity and openness. Those are great British traditions too.
Of course, if you believed every headline, you’d think that when immigrants aren’t stealing British jobs. They’re all living the high life in 12-bedroom Kensington mansions, courtesy of the state. But that’s a complete caricature of the truth.
The majority of people who come here work hard and make a contribution. Many have served – and still serve – in our armed forces. And if every member of an immigrant community suddenly downed tools, countless businesses and services would suffer. The NHS would fall over. And in a globalised economy, where talent is as mobile as capital, no nation can succeed by pulling up the drawbridge.
British firms depend on outside skills and expertise in order to compete. British universities too. The reason this country has a world-beating research base is because we are a magnet for the brightest and the best. That’s why, when the Coalition put limits on the number of migrants coming here from outside Europe, it was important to Vince Cable and me that students – genuine students – were excluded from that.
It’s why, more recently, the Coalition has rejected proposals to impose a visa regime on visitors from Brazil. Where a minority are abusing the system, we need to deal with that – whatever nationality they are. But a new visa regime would deter Brazilian tourists, discourage Brazilian investors and Brazil would simply do the same to us, hampering the access British companies have to one of the world’s fastest growing markets.
So, yes we are bringing immigration under control, and I will explain how. But I want UK firms to be in no doubt. The Coalition’s priority continues to be growth and building a stronger economy. I’m clear that well-managed immigration is a key part of that.
The problem is that the system has not been well-managed. It has been grossly mismanaged. I welcome Labour’s recent admission that they got it wrong. But the fact that this mea culpa is immediately followed by mud-slinging, by an attempt to blame the Coalition for the problems that remain, suggests to me Labour still don’t understand just how wrong they got it.
The previous government left us an immigration system in disarray. I cannot stress enough just how chaotic it was. The first thing they did, after coming into office, was stop checking if people were leaving the country. They got rid of exit checks. They weren’t counting people in and they weren’t counting people out either.
Seven different immigration Bills; six different Home Secretaries and yet, in the course of a decade, just 114 prosecutions for employing illegal immigrants.
And Labour were completely caught off guard by the impact of their decision to lift transitional controls on new EU member states when other EU countries did not. By the time they finally woke up to the mess they’d created, to the real strain immigration was placing on some communities, it was already too late.
Is it any wonder that there has been a crisis of public confidence in our immigration system? People’s anxieties are not, generally-speaking, driven by prejudice or racism. We are, by nature, a tolerant people. But, for too long, British people’s legitimate concerns have been downplayed. For too long their worries were met with words but not action.
There’s a common allegation that, among the political elite there’s been a conspiracy of silence on immigration. But over the years there’s been lots of talk, lots of posturing, lots of promises. Plenty’s been said. The problem is: not enough’s been done.
Where there is resentment towards the immigration system, we must now confront it. For a diverse society like ours to function successfully, for different groups to integrate and co-exist, British citizens must believe that the rules by which migrants come and settle here are reasonable, just, and properly enforced. The immigration system must command public confidence.
Since we came into government, net migration has fallen by a third. We’ve limited immigration from outside Europe. And within the EU, we have kept the transitional limits on Romania and Bulgaria, until the point where every member state has to remove them.
But it’s not just about the overall numbers. People need three basic assurances:
One: that we are getting a grip on who’s coming in and who’s going out.
Two: that we can deal with people staying here illegally.
Three: that the system as a whole benefits the UK and doesn’t put too much pressure on our state – particularly in these straitened times.
Give British citizens those assurances, and you will see this nation’s most welcoming side.
The Coalition is creating a system people can be confident in. A system that contributes to both a stronger economy and a fairer society – we need to deliver both. Tolerant Britain, zero-tolerant of abuse.
Assurance number one: that we’re getting on top of who’s here. The Coalition is building a much clearer picture of who’s coming in and going out. We’re building up Britain’s entry checks, increasing the information we get in advance of people travelling. And we are reintroducing exit checks.
Exit checks tell us whether the people who should have left actually have. Britain used to have them, but they were dismantled by previous governments. The process began under the Major government and was carried on by the Blair administration and the Liberal Democrats have been campaigning to bring them back since 2004.
To us it always seemed obvious that exit checks are an essential feature of an efficient and competent immigration system. And so we ensured that this Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment was written into the Coalition agreement. Bit by bit we are filling in the gaping holes Labour left.
Assurance number two: that we can prevent people from staying here illegally. Before I come onto what we are doing in Government, let me say a word on Liberal Democrat party policy.
My party will always advocate immigration policies that respect the rights and dignity of individuals – particularly the vulnerable. It’s because of us that children are no longer detained for immigration purposes. It’s because of us that the UK no longer deports people to countries where we know they’ll be persecuted for their sexuality. Both straight from our manifesto and two of my proudest achievements in government.
But, at the last election we suggested that any illegal immigrant who had been here for 10 years should be able to earn their citizenship. We called it an earned route to citizenship. Our opponents dubbed it an ‘amnesty’.
We felt it was an honest and pragmatic solution given the chaos in the Home Office and the obvious failure by Labour to identify where thousands of illegal immigrants were. Better surely, we asked, to get them to pay their taxes and make a proper contribution to our society, than to continue to live in the shadows?
But, despite the policy’s aims, it was seen by many people as a reward for those who have broken the law. And so it risked undermining public confidence in the immigration system.
The very public confidence that is essential to a tolerant and open Britain. That is why I am no longer convinced this specific policy should be retained in our manifesto for the next General Election.
So I have asked Andrew Stunell, the former Integration Minister, to lead a review of this and our other immigration policies in the run up to 2015.
In Coalition, the Liberal Democrats are seeking to restore people’s faith in the system, confronting illegal activity with a vigour never seen from Labour, and in 2015 people will know that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for an immigration system they can believe in. A vote for a tolerant Britain that is zero-tolerant towards abuse.
We’re clamping down on the most exploited routes into the country: tightening up what’s known as the ‘tier one route’, for example. It was supposedly for highly skilled visa applicants, but was routinely exploited by people who did not have those skills.
The student route was riddled with holes. So we’re cracking down on bogus colleges. UKBA officers visited a college which had requested permission to bring in over 200 students. How many did they find studying that day? Two. Since 2010, almost 600 colleges have been removed from the list of registered visa sponsors.
While we have to be realistic about UKBA’s enforcement budget in the current climate, we’re making sure money is better spent. For instance, reducing the opportunity for long, vexatious and costly appeals by those who have been refused the right to remain in Britain, while still safeguarding the right to a fair hearing.
We’re cracking down on the profiteers. I can confirm today that the Coalition will increase the cash penalties for unscrupulous employers who hire illegal immigrants because they’re cheaper. Currently, the maximum fine is £10,000 per illegal worker. I’ve asked the Home Secretary to look into the right amount but personally I’d like to see it double.
Employers need to get the message: they have an inescapable duty to employ people who are working here legally, not to turn a blind eye to those working illegally.
And I’m determined that our police can come down on the criminal gangs who smuggle and traffic people into the country. We’re currently reviewing policing cooperation with our European partners. But I’m clear that we must not jeopardise any arrangements that help us tackle this kind of cross-border crime. Criminals go across borders; so must we.
In addition to these crackdowns, I can also confirm we’re looking at a powerful new tool to help deal with the problem of people overstaying on their visas.
Visa overstayers make up a major part of UKBA’s enforcement caseload – clogging up the system. As early as 2006 we had reports from Select Committees, arguing that visa overstaying would be one of the biggest challenges for our immigration system in the 21st century. As people travel more – for work, for holidays – you have more people coming into the country for temporary periods and so you need to find ways to make sure they leave.
The challenge isn’t just stopping people coming into Britain illegally, it’s about dealing with individuals who come over legitimately but then become illegal once they’re already here.
One idea, which appeals to me, is a system of security bonds. And so I’ve asked the Home Office to do some work on it with a view to running a pilot before the end of the year.
The basic premise is simple: in certain cases, when a visa applicant is coming from a high risk country, in addition to satisfying the normal criteria, UKBA would be able to request a deposit – a kind of cash guarantee. Once the visitor leaves Britain, the bond will be repaid. Clearly, we need to look into the detail and seek a wide range of views, including from the Home Affairs Select Committee.
The bonds would need to be well-targeted – so that they don’t unfairly discriminate against particular groups. The amounts would need to be proportionate – we mustn’t penalise legitimate visa applicants who will struggle to get hold of the money. Visiting Britain to celebrate a family birth, or a relative’s graduation, or wedding should not become entirely dependant on your ability to pay the security bond.
And I would want a system that is welcomed by legitimate visitors rather than place a great burden on them. Done right, this would speed up the application process, giving UKBA greater confidence about people’s intentions, allowing them to make better, faster decisions.
In today’s world, illegal immigration happens in different ways – and we need to think innovatively to keep up.
Finally, assurance number three: that immigration as a whole benefits Britain and British citizens.
Migration contributes to the public purse – we mustn’t forget that. But it is important, with budgets under strain that as many people as possible contribute to the economy and support themselves. We’re asking that of British citizens – it is right that we ask the same of visitors to Britain.
So the Coalition has reformed work visas so that every worker coming here has a proper job offer and a minimum salary. And we’ve changed family visas to introduce a minimum income for anyone bringing over a partner or spouse.
While it’s right that, if businesses can’t find the skills they need they can bring people in from outside the UK.
As we tackle unemployment and rebuild our economy, we also need to be asking why that’s the case at all. Why aren’t our young men and women equipped to do these jobs? So the Coalition is creating record numbers of apprenticeships – over one million since the election. And I want to make sure we have the right plans in place for so-called ‘shortage occupations’ – the specific professions where we lack skills.
There are 34 currently on the list. Paediatricians, maths teachers, chemical and mechanical engineers, to name a few. And we are now asking employers and their representative bodies, including Sector Skills Councils, to work with the Government on our plans to build up Britain’s homegrown skills for each profession: making sure we’re on track.
I believe people will have more faith in our immigration system if they see that we are doing everything we can to help young British men and women into work. To that end, the Coalition has also capped unskilled migration from outside the EU. The Government is also looking at the access migrants have to services and benefits. Fairness isn’t just about what people put into the system: it’s what also about what they take out.
This work is extremely complex. Labour left us a huge, unwieldy welfare state, full of contradiction. In some place the arrangements are already quite strict, in others they are much more loose and opaque. So now we are systematically working through to see where reform is necessary.
No decisions have been taken yet and the PM will be saying more about his views on Monday. But I want to make clear that this is very much a Coalition agenda, with both sides working together. For the Liberal Democrats, it is entirely right that we close loopholes and ensure that the welfare system is not open to abuse.
For social cohesion, as much as anything else. One area where I’ve asked for further work, for instance is on the translation services available to individuals accessing public services. The Government currently spends tens of millions of pounds on translation services and materials. And, of course, people should get help, if they need it to understand what their doctor is saying, or how to sign their children up for school, or what's going on at a court hearing.
But there's a missed opportunity here to improve people's English so that, in the long term, they don't need those translators and the taxpayer spends less.
We've already raised the level of English required from a number of different groups: skilled workers, the husbands and wives of migrants coming to the UK. But we need to do more to help people who are already here.
In 2011 we introduced powers for Jobcentre advisers to mandate people on job-related benefits to learn English if their level of language skills is stopping them from finding work.
I've asked Iain Duncan Smith to report back to me on how this is being implemented. I want to make sure it's being rolled out effectively across the country.
And where people need a translator to interact with services, I've asked Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister, to look at whether we could refer them onto an English language course. And, if people refuse to stick with those courses, we should consider making them pay for their translation services instead. To a lot of people, that’s just common sense.
We’ll be saying more about this, and the other areas under review, over the coming weeks and months.
So in conclusion, we are grappling with the difficult challenges in our immigration system.
Brick by brick, we are rebuilding it. Day by day we are making sure, quite simply, that it works. All the British people ask is for a system they can have confidence in. We hear that, and we are delivering it.
I’m determined we lay the foundations for an immigration system that embodies this nation’s instincts and its values: our openness and tolerance on one hand; our sense of fair play, on the other.
The Liberal Democrats are at the forefront of that. We want to stay a tolerant Britain, and to that end we will be zero-tolerant of abuse.
Danny Alexander: £700 tax cut for working people
This means 24.5m working people will get a further Income Tax cut, bringing the total tax cut to £700 a year since Liberal Democrats joined the Coalition Government.
It also means 2.7m low-paid workers will be lifted out of paying Income Tax altogether.
Cutting taxes by £700 for working people is the Liberal Democrats’ top priority. We put it on the front page of our 2010 manifesto, argued for it in the coalition negotiations and are delivering it in Government.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:
“Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life. That’s why we are cutting taxes for working people.
“When times are as tough as they are now, our focus must be on helping those on low and middle incomes. The right to earn £10,000 income tax free has gone from the front page of our manifesto to the pockets of 27m hardworking people. By keeping this promise we are giving practical help to millions of families.
“It’s also why we have scrapped another of Labour’s fuel duty rises, so filling up your car will be £7 cheaper than under Labour plans. And why we are cracking down on tax dodgers so that everyone is paying their fair share.”
Liberal Democrats deliver £700 tax cut for working people
The announcement that the Income Tax Personal Allowance will rise to £10,000, confirmed in the Budget, means the Liberal Democrats’ top priority at the 2010 General Election has been delivered in full by the Coalition Government. It means:
· A £700 tax cut for 24.5m working people across the UK since the Liberal Democrats came to power.
· 2.7m low paid workers will no longer pay Income Tax at all.
· For the average family, we have cut the Income Tax bill by a third.
· It is enough for a working couple to pay their council tax or combined gas and electricity bills for a year.
· The Coalition commitment to raise the threshold to £10,000 by 2015 will be achieved a year early, in April 2014.
Letting you keep more of the money you earn is a key part of our plan to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.
The £700 tax cut comes alongside more help for working families in the Budget, which confirmed a freeze in fuel duty and £1,200 off the cost of childcare for every child.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “When times are as tough as they are now, our focus must be on helping those on low and middle incomes. That’s why we’ve made delivering on this promise our number one priority in Government.
“It’s also why we have scrapped another of Labour’s fuel duty rises, so filling up your car will be £7 cheaper than under Labour plans. And why we are cracking down on tax dodgers so that everyone is paying their fair share.
“All of this has been done while sticking to our tough but necessary plan to deal with this country’s financial problems. Britain can’t afford unfunded giveaways – unlike the last Labour government, we have made sure everything is paid for.
“The success of the Liberal Democrats in delivering fairer taxes is in stark contrast to record of the Labour Party. In Government, Labour increased tax on low income households; in Government the Liberal Democrats have led the largest programme of tax cuts for working people for a generation.
“I'd like us to go further after the election - with the goal that you don't pay Income Tax until you earn more than the minimum wage. That is the sign of a fair tax party. Today we should celebrate the fact that this Budget is getting real help to millions of working people at a time when they need it most.”
While today’s announced rise in the Personal Allowance to £10,000 comes into effect next year, people on low and middle incomes will see more money in their pay packets next month. This April sees the biggest ever rise in the Personal Allowance – to £9,440. That’s a £600 tax cut for working people since the Liberal Democrats came to power, with more to come next year.
Nick Clegg announces £1bn tax-free childcare scheme
The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life. That’s why we believe helping working families is so important. As well as tax-free childcare, Liberal Democrats are helping working parents by cutting their Income Tax bills, by £600 a year as of April, and extending the amount of free early years education available for all children.
Commenting, Nick Clegg said: “I want to help every family to get on in life. Already we have created a million private sector jobs, put money back in people's pockets by cutting Income Tax and extended free childcare entitlements for pre-school children.
“Delivering tax-free childcare is the next step to ensuring all families can work and get on. The rising cost of childcare is one of the biggest challenges parents face and it means many mums and dads simply can’t afford to work. This not only hurts them financially, but is bad for the economy too. This announcement of a £1bn investment in childcare will make sure it pays to work.
“An extra £1,200 for each child will make a real difference to families who find themselves constantly worrying about how to juggle their family budget. And extending support for working families on Universal Credit will make sure it is worth working extra hours even if you're on low wages.”
The new tax-free childcare scheme will double the amount of support available compared to the current employer supported childcare scheme, opening it to around five times as many families. Once fully up and running, it will be worth up to £1,200 per child. It will be phased in from autumn 2015 and will ultimately be open to around 2.5m families with children under 12.
To be eligible, families will have both parents in work, with each earning less than £150,000 a year, and will not already receive support through tax credits and later, Universal Credit. They will receive 20% – equivalent to the basic rate of tax – of their yearly childcare costs up to £6,000 per child.
The Coalition will also increase the amount of childcare support available through Universal Credit by £200m help improve work incentives and ensure it is worthwhile to work up to full time hours for low and middle income parents.