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Liberal Democrats launch 2015 pre-manifesto

Liberal Democrats have today unveiled the party’s pre-manifesto, which sets out out the vision for Britain in the next Parliament

The policies in the pre-manifesto, which has spreading opportunity for the next generation at its heart, will be debated and voted on by our members at the upcoming Party Conference in Glasgow.

Liberal Democrats in government have played an essential role in rescuing Britain’s economy, creating more than 1m jobs and bringing the economy back to growth.

We are proud of this record of delivery and the pre-manifesto document sets out our promise of more in the next. Our focus will be on a ‘manifesto for the next generation’ with a host of policies aimed at improving opportunities for children and young people, including plans to expand free childcare to all two year olds, introduce free school meals for all primary school children and triple the early years pupil premium.

 Liberal Democrat Pre-Manifesto 2014

Lib Dems win vote to reform the bedroom tax

The Liberal Democrats have taken the first step in reforming the bedroom tax by winning a crucial vote in Parliament.

Under the proposals, which were passed today in the House of Commons, existing tenants will not be penalised when they cannot move into smaller accommodation because this is not available or where there is a serious medical reason for an additional room.

Our plans mean that any financial penalty would go to the housing provider rather than the individual claimant. The new system would incentivise social landlords to reduce the number of tenants under-occupying their homes, freeing up bigger properties for larger families.

To find out more about the reforms, click here.

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These proposed changes to the policy have been supported by a number of organisations including Shelter, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Crisis, Oxfam and the Disability Benefits Consortium

However, Conservatives have stated publicly that they oppose reforms to bedroom tax and although Labour support the removal of the spare room subsidy, they have not indicated that they would also change the rules for the private sector.

Lib Dems will not allow schools to run for profit

Conservative Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has today refused to rule out the idea of allowing schools to make a profit should the Conservatives win next year’s election. A policy that Liberal Democrats in Government are prepared to oppose every step of the way.

If you believe that schools should not be run for profit, sign our petition today.

Liberal Democrats are committed to narrowing the attainment gap between children form poorer and more affluent backgrounds, something that would be unachievable if the Conservatives allowed schools to run for profit.

Former Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove previously said he said no objection to businesses making profits from free schools. Liberal Democrats firmly opposed this move and insisted that they would not support free schools unless they helped children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Liberal Democrats want to ensure all children to reach their full potential. In government, they have fought to set up a £2.5 billion Pupil Premium and introduced free school meals to all 5-7 year olds.

Only a vote for the Liberal Democrats can guarantee a stronger economy and a fairer society.

Closing loopholes in zero hours exclusivity ban

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable is calling on business, unions and individuals to help identify and close potential loopholes in plans to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

Exclusivity clauses prevent workers on zero hours contracts from taking work elsewhere even when their employer provides no work.

The government is launching a consultation to find out whether a minority of unscrupulous employers may attempt to circumvent the ban by offering contracts which could guarantee just one hour of work.

The consultation is asking for people to submit their views on how to prevent this from happening. It also suggests options that workers could use to seek justice if they are treated unfairly by their employer because they found work elsewhere whilst on a zero hour contract.

The consultation follows the announcement in June 2014 that the government would ban the use of exclusivity clauses.

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable said:

“We are tightening the screws on rogue employers who try to abuse workers on zero hours contracts. We are looking closely at any potential loopholes that could arise from a ban, to ensure that these are closed off and no one can get round the new law. We are also ensuring there is access to justice for workers treated unfairly.

“The evidence shows that the vast majority of zero hours contracts have been used responsibly by many businesses for many years, but unfortunately we know that some abuse does take place. This is why we are bringing in new laws to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, which currently stop employees getting other jobs if they need to top up their income.”

Help for carers

Liberal Democrats would support carers with a package of measures designed to make their lives easier under manifesto plans.

Carers save the state tens of billions of pounds a year and the Lib Dems want to give them something back.

The package includes raising the amount carers can earn before losing their allowance.

It also contains measures for more flexible working hours, support in returning to the jobs market and a scheme informing carers of their rights and giving them access to facilities.

This follows Lib Dem plans announced earlier this year to introduce an annual Carer’s Bonus of up to £250.

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Commenting Liberal Democrat Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb said:

“The Liberal Democrats believe in offering opportunity for everyone in order to build a stronger economy and a fairer societyand that means really valuing the work that informal carers do, day in day out.

“Carers contribute so much to our economy and society we want to make it easier for them to stay in work and balance their caring responsibilities with other parts of their lives.

“We need to identify and support informal carers by getting them the help they need. That’s good for the carer, good for the person they care for, and good for society as a whole.”

Liberal Democrat Health Committee Co-Chair Paul Burstow said:

“Carers are the unsung heroes of our care system. In Government Liberal Democrats have legislated new rights to support and fund more breaks for carers.

“This package of measures recognises the huge contribution carers make. It aims to offer the right support at the right time to carers in work, when dealing with the NHS and financially.”

Lib Dems plan to cut your tax bill further

A Liberal Democrat government will make further cuts in Income Tax and reduce National Insurance for millions of workers under manifesto plans announced today.

The party plans to raise the personal allowance to at least £12,500 by the end of next Parliament.

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This move would cut income tax for 30m workers and be worth £400 per year to a typical basic rate taxpayer.

Pensioners have not benefitted from the previous increases in the personal allowance, but the increase to £12,500 will benefit more than 6m pensioners.

And in a new proposal announced today, Liberal Democrats will seek to raise the amount people can earn before paying National Insurance once the personal income tax allowance has reached £12,500.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

“Our tax system must be fair and help to make being in work pay.  That’s why cutting income tax for working people, particularly those on low and middle incomes, is a top Liberal Democrat priority.

“It was on the front page of the 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto and we have fought to keep it on the agenda at every Budget.  By April next year we will have delivered a tax cut to over 26 million people worth £800 a year to a typical basic rate taxpayer and taken over 3 million out of tax altogether.

“Now we want to go even further and lift the amount of money people can earn before paying income tax to £12,500.  This will take hundreds of thousands more low earners out of tax altogether and give millions of working people a further tax cut of £400.

“This move will also give a tax cut to over 6 million pensioners.  When we’ve reached £12,500 we will seek to raise the level that people start paying employee National Insurance.

“The Liberal Democrats are the only party in British politics with a long-term commitment to cutting taxes for the working people of Britain. We’ve delivered the largest programme of tax cuts for a generation over the last four years, despite all of the other financial pressures.

“These manifesto commitments will mean nothing less than a generational shift to a fairer tax system that rewards work and helps working people. That’s the way to build a stronger economy and a fairer society and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get on in life.”

Mental health research should be the next big breakthrough

A Liberal Democrat government would establish a mental health research fund to support the development of new cutting-edge mental health treatments, Nick Clegg has announced.

Nick is calling for Britain to lead the world in understanding and treating mental illness, so that it is put on equal-footing with physical health.

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In the plans outlined by Nick, Liberal Democrats would increase funding spent on mental health research by £50m, by 2020.

The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Research shows that one in four people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives. By tackling mental health as a same priority as physical health, we can build a fairer society.

Nick said:

Mental health issues have been treated as a sort of Cinderella service compared to physical health issues.

“I want people who are dealing with depression to be as effectively treated as if they had diabetes.

“That is why I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough in mental health research just as we have always been a country that is a world leader in research into physical health.

“We’ve led the world in research in physical health issues. We’re the country where penicillin was invented, where DNA was discovered, where IVF fertility treatment was developed, I see no reason why we can’t lead the world in mental health research and treatments as well.

“To that end, the Liberal Democrats will commit in our manifesto to a new research fund which, by the end of next Parliament, will be worth £50m per year.”

Liberal Democrats in government have prioritised mental healthcare. We have introduced a legal duty on the NHS to promote parity of esteem for mental health and are investing £400m to increase access to talking therapies.

By establishing a mental health research fund, we can go even further and pave the way for major breakthroughs in the way we understand and treat mental illness.

Free school meals will help boost learning

Free school meals will help boost learning in schools, according to a review of pilot schemes.

Trials for the school meals scheme, which comes into effect in September, show that infants from poorer backgrounds perform better in the classroom.

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The report finds that pupils were academically months ahead of their peers elsewhere and more likely to eat vegetables at lunchtime instead of less healthy food like crisps.

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“The evidence is clear – free school meals will not only save families hundreds of pounds a year but will also have a dramatic impact on how a child performs works in the classroom so that, regardless of their background, every child can have the best possible start in life.

“Pupils at the pilot schools were found to be up to two months ahead of their peers elsewhere and had a better chance of improving in all subjects from maths and science to writing and reading – this marks a significant improvement on schemes by previous Governments aimed at closing the attainment gap such as the introduction of the literacy hour in 1998.

“This is one of the most progressive changes to our school system for a long time so there will always be critics but that won’t cloud my goal to create a level playing field for all of our children so their success will be determined by their talents and efforts alone and not by their parents’ bank balance.”

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