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Annual bonus for 1m carers

Around 1m carers will receive an annual bonus under a Liberal Democrat government, it has been announced yesterday.

Liberal Democrats have made a manifesto pledge to give carers £250 per year, by the end of the next parliament.

Research conducted by Carers UK revealed that almost half of all carers are struggling financially due to their caring roles.

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Liberal Democrats recognise the invaluable work of carers and understand how important access to respite is for carers.

Carers UK estimate that informal care provided by carers saves the state £119bn per year. Liberal Democrats believe that carers deserve a bonus more than bankers.

This annual payment will be paid directly to carers and they can choose how to spend the money, whether that be towards a break or on something to help make their life a bit easier.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said:

“Carers are Britain’s unsung heroes. Up and down the country behind closed doors, you’ll find a hidden army of carers doing amazing things every day.

“It is estimated that six in ten of us will at some point in our lives find ourselves caring for someone else – an elderly relative, a sick child, a friend who needs our support.

“These are people who deserve our support even in straightened times, which is why the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a Carer’s Bonus to give them a little extra help.

“It’s completely up to the carers themselves how they spend it – it’s a no strings attached bonus from a party that is grateful for the superhuman work they do.”

Lynn Pepper takes over as Chair

Interim Chair, Lynn Pepper

New Chair, Lynn Pepper

At June’s executive meeting, David Harding-Price resigned as Chair of Lincoln, Sleaford and North Hykeham Liberal Democrats with immediate effect, as he wanted to concentrate his efforts on fighting for the Lincoln constituency in next year’s general election. Lynn Pepper received the unanimous backing of the executive to take over as Chair until the end of 2014.

Lynn is an experienced member of the executive and will ensure stability leading into the important general election year.


East Midlands European Elections 2014: The Debate

The Debate was brought to you by The Lincolnite, Siren FM and the University of Lincoln. This debate was streamed live from Lincoln on May 9, 2014.

The panel included Katharina Boettge (Green Party), Roger Helmer MEP (UKIP), Brendan Clarke-Smith (Conservative), Bill Newton Dunn (Liberal Democrats) and Linda Woodings (Labour), who answered questions from a live studio audience.

Jenny Willott: Protecting our Post Offices

Today Jenny Willott highlighted the Liberal Democrats’ commitments to modernising the Post Office that ensure a sustainable future.

Following two decades of decline, the post office network has now stabilised. Through the Network Transformation Programme, which the Government has invested a total of £2 billion in, thousands of branches have now been modernised.

Jenny said:

“My vision, and I believe it is one that we all share, is of a modern, financially sustainable Post Office that delivers exceptional services for its clients, that leads the market in customer service, and is present in every community across the country.

As of last week, over 3,500 post offices signed to convert to the new models, which means that customers are benefitting from improved access to Post Office services. Modernised branches are providing access to services for an additional 60,000 hours a week.

“For the first time in the history of the Post Office, there are now more competitor mails access points than there are post office branches.”

In response to the threat of competition, Jenny said that the Government is ensuring that the Network Transformation will be completed quickly. New lower cost systems and processes will be put in place to eliminate losses that will be beneficial for staff, customers and the business.

Through modernised post offices, customers will have a better say in how their post office is run and the types of services that can be offered.

In our area, the Ermine, Sincil Street, Bailgate, Bassingham and Wellingore Post Office have all been modernised

Tim Farron writes: The Tories have become UKIP-lite on Europe

With just two weeks until voters go to the polls in the European elections, the Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up to UKIP and fighting to keep Britain in the EU.

Writing in the Huffington Post today, Liberal Democrat Party President Tim Farron brands Eurosceptics as “UKIP-lite” on Europe.

In the article Tim makes the case for Britain’s place in the EU and why Liberal Democrats are fighting to keep Britain IN.

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In the European elections our country faces a stark choice between those arguing to stay in Europe and those who want to leave. Liberal Democrats are taking a stand as the only party that genuinely wants to keep Britain in the EU and defend British jobs. And we all know what UKIP think: they recklessly want to leave the EU and jeopardise livelihoods around the country.

However, with fifteen days till polling day, we still don’t know what Labour or the Tories think about the EU – are they in or out? Labour didn’t even mention Europe in their party political broadcast and Ed Miliband launched their campaign by talking about national politics. It’s difficult to know if they are too scared or vacuous to give a position on Europe but it is clear they aren’t offering voters anything in these elections.

The Tories’ failure to defend Britain’s EU membership is of a different nature altogether. They seem to have gone quiet in order to hide what we already know – most Conservatives want to leave the EU. They simply don’t care that it supports British jobs, helps fight climate change and makes our streets safer. They aren’t interested in the huge benefits the EU gives consumers through cheaper shopping bills, travel and mobile phone roaming, and they are certainly not interested in projecting British influence and values around the world through the EU amplifier. They want to bury their heads in the sand and return to an idealised 1950s Britain that never existed or, if it did, only for the privileged few.

We aren’t just talking here about a fringe faction within the Conservative Party. Of course there are those who never stop “banging on about Europe” such as Bill Cash or John Redwood, but it goes much further than that. Many, if not most, senior Conservatives are ready to quit the EU. Take Boris Johnson, he said, “we should be prepared to pull out. That goes without saying.” Or Education Secretary Michael Gove and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond who said they would vote to leave if a referendum were held today. Or the new Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, who stated that we shouldn’t be afraid to leave the EU. The list goes on.

The truth is that most of David Cameron’s party do not want to reform the EU and they don’t care about his renegotiation. They have already made up their mind that they want to leave and pull Britain out. They are UKIP-lite.

Therefore, if you believe that being in Europe is crucial for creating a stronger economy and future jobs for our kids, the Conservatives are a wasted vote. If you believe that it is in our national interest to work with our neighbours to address climate change, organised crime and to defend human rights around the globe, only the Liberal Democrats are making this case in the European elections.

Delivering in Government

David Harding Price

Article by David Harding Price, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Lincoln

Many of you may have noticed a small but significant change in your latest pay packets that have arrived over the last week or so. A little extra money that has not been taken by the tax man, which you are now free to spend on repairing the car, saving for a holiday, paying off a little more of that credit card or a meal out with the family- whatever you do is up to you! This is thanks to the rise in the tax threshold which happened on the 5th April this year, and has been delivered by the Liberal Democrats in government.

On the front page of our manifesto in 2010, we said we would raise the tax threshold, which is the point you start pay tax, from £6,475 to £10,000 a year. This has meant 37,400 ordinary working people in Lincoln have received a £700 a year tax cut delivered by the Lib Dems. We also have 5,000 Lincoln residents on the lowest incomes taken out of tax all together.

If you were one of those people who witnessed the first TV debate at the General Election of 2010, David Cameron blasted Nick Clegg for wanting to deliver a £17 billion income tax cut. He said “I would love to take everyone out of their first £10,000 of income tax, Nick. It’s a beautiful idea, a lovely idea. We cannot afford it.” Since then, the Conservative Party seem to have erased that from their memory, and claim it as their own policy. If the Lib Dems were not in government, the Income Tax cut would never have taken place.

The Lib Dem approach in delivering fairer taxes is in stark contrast to record of the Labour Party. In Government, Labour increased tax on low income households with the scrapping of the 10p tax rate in 2008, giving those on the lowest incomes a £232 increase in their tax bills. Not a fair thing to do.

The Lib Dems have now pressured the Conservative Chancellor, George Osbourne into going even further. As of next year, everyone will receive an additional £100 tax cut with the threshold going up to £10,500, meaning the Lib Dems have over-delivered.

Liberal Democrats are working for a stronger economy and a fairer society, so that everyone can get on in life, so we are cutting taxes for ordinary working people. Liberal Democrats want fairer taxes, which is why we made raising the tax-free allowance our number one priority. When times are tough, with rising bills and wages not keeping pace with inflation, we want to give people real, practical help. Cutting Income Tax will not deal with all of those problems, but it will help. And I hope it will make a big difference to every family in this city.

But 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 and a further tax cut for hardworking families across Lincoln and the UK.

Pupil Premium Awards for schools that do the most to help disadvantaged pupils

Schools that go above and beyond to help disadvantaged pupils improve their results could win a share of £4m, as part of the Pupil Premium Awards announced by Nick Clegg and Schools Minister David Laws.

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The awards encourage schools up and down the country to find innovative and effective ways of using Pupil Premium funding to boost the achievements of disadvantaged students.

Thousands of pupils in up to 500 schools across England could benefit from the awards.

Prizes for schools who enter the Deputy Prime Minister’s Pupil Premium Awards include:

  • £250,000 for the top secondary school
  • £100,000 for the top primary and special schools
  • Up to 20 regional rewards of £100,000 for secondary schools and £50,000 for primary and special schools
  • Up to 18 runner-up prizes of up to £50,000
  • Hundreds of qualifier awards of up to £5,000

Schools can use the money to fund extra teacher support for pupils who need it most or send their disadvantaged pupils on educational visits that benefit their studies.

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Too often a child’s destiny can be determined by where they were born or how much their parents earn. The pupil premium helps schools turn this around with vital funding – it’s social mobility in action. It helps disadvantaged children get the support, education and skills they need to get on in life and succeed.

“Schools across the country are showing how innovative methods can not only help improve the opportunities for individual children, but helps whole classes progress too, and so I’m pleased to announce the rewards up for grabs in next year’s Pupil Premium Awards are even greater for both schools and the children whose lives they help transform.”

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws said:

“The pupil premium is transforming the way we educate our disadvantaged children. Now the enhanced Pupil Premium Awards will reward the schools leading the way in bridging the gap between background and achievement.

“Previous awards have been a tremendous success and we are making the 2015 scheme bigger and better. By next year’s awards we will have invested a total of £6.25 billion through the pupil premium over 4 years, highlighting our commitment to helping disadvantaged pupils do well in school.”

Up to 8 additional prizes of £25,000 each will be awarded to eligible schools with the highest proportions of free school meal eligible pupils that:

  • Achieve the top grade (level 6) in reading and mathematics tests at 11 years old
  • Pass A level physics having participated in the Cambridge Rutherford Schools Physics Project
  • Achieve the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), a combination of qualifications including English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language
  • Pass A level further mathematics
  • Go on to study at Oxford or Cambridge universities
  • Go on to study at Russell Group universities, an association of 24 leading universities

The awards will bring together schools from across England to a ceremony in London next year to celebrate the hard work of teachers, pupils and governors.

Sarah Ludford writes: Labour are a wasted vote. Only the Lib Dems are fighting to keep Britain in Europe

The European elections on 22nd May are the most important in decades. UKIP and Tory eurosceptics are attempting to drive our country out of the European Union regardless of the costs to British jobs, security and influence in the world.

Only the Liberal Democrats are standing up to these extremists by making clear that it is in our national interest to be in Europe, in work.

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The silence from the Labour Party is deafening. Their party political broadcast for the European elections does not mention Europe once. At their European elections launch today, Ed Miliband ignored the very campaign he was supposed to be launching and spent the whole time talking about domestic policy.

Why? Because Labour simply have nothing to offer voters in these elections.  They are running scared of UKIP, too terrified to stand up for a tolerant, modern and fairer society, too scared to defend a Britain that is open, welcoming and diverse.

They are too afraid to speak up for a stronger economy, missing in action when they should be protecting the millions of British jobs that rely on our trade with the EU in the car industry, farming, aerospace, tourism, pharmaceuticals and small businesses.

Their record in the European Parliament shows that Labour haven’t changed. Not content with creating the recession and failing to properly regulate the banks, Labour Euro MPs have consistently voted for more red tape and other anti-jobs policies.Only last month, they voted against measures that would exempt Britain’s smallest businesses from the most burdensome aspects of EU red tape.

They have also voted against crucial new EU rules that will prevent another crisis in the Eurozone, our largest trading partner, which is crucial to our long term economic prospects.

Put simply, a vote for Labour in the European elections is a wasted vote. If you want a fairer society and a stronger economy with Britain leading in Europe there is only one choice in these elections – vote Liberal Democrats.

£30m investment to improve the lives of vulnerable young people

Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced a £30m investment to help improve the lives of up to 20,000 vulnerable young people.

The funding will support disadvantaged young people, helping them to improve their prospects and prevent them from finding themselves not in employment, education or training (NEET).

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The investment will be made in two new schemes targeting 14-24 year-olds, which will help them to develop vital skills to improve their educational goals and boost their employability.

These schemes are:

-The Youth Engagement Fund- which aims to support up to 18,000 young people in more than 100 schools in England to help them to improve their skills and employability.

-The Fair Chance Fund- aims to move over 2,000 homeless young people into sustainable accommodation as well as employment, education or training over three years.

The investment will be delivered through social impact bonds (SIBS) and organisations, charities and investors will each bid for a share of the £30m.

Cash will be awarded to the best programmes.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said:

“Our most vulnerable young people can feel like they’re stuck in a rut and cast aside by society, with no future or prospects to help them get the skills, confidence or opportunities they need to succeed.

“Our £30 million package opens up the chance for people to invest in programmes that deliver real results. It means that thousands of young people struggling in schools, or living on the streets will have the support they need to improve their educational achievement, get employment and get into sustainable housing.

“We’re going in the right direction with youth unemployment down by 98,000 over the past year, but we need to do more to prevent disadvantaged young people from becoming just another statistic. Helping all our young people get back on track needs innovation so that we can prevent young people from falling out of education, employment or training.”

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