Tag Archives: steve webb

The Independent View: Save our safety net

Four children are left home alone for five days. Social services step in to move the kids out to live with their father. But there’s a problem: the council have found a flat for the newly formed family, but it is unfurnished. The dad lives on a low income and does not have the savings to buy five beds and mattresses, and all the other furniture that is needed. If the property isn’t adequately furnished, the children will have to be taken into care. (See case study here).

Situations like this exist up and down the country. In this case, the family were awarded a loan from the local welfare provision (LWP) scheme run by their local authority which allowed them to start again after this period of massive instability. But if they lived in a different part of the country their local provision might not have been as generous, or the local council simply may not have established a scheme at all. And with central government funding to councils for LWP currently under threat, support of this type is likely to be even more limited in the future.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Conference Speeches: Steve Webb: “We spend £37 billion on pensions tax relief, mostly on well-off. Next Government will need to address the unfairness

Continuing our series of Conference speeches reproduced in full, here is Steve Webb’s from this afternoon. He said that he wants the next Government to look at tax relief on pensions and he looked back on the work that he had been doing on pensions over the last four years. He also revealed that the donor who gave £1 million to UKIP is standing against him in May. If this bothers you, If this bothers you in any way, you can donate to his local party here.

Those of you who were paying attention to the news last week will have seen the story of the former Tory party donor who has now given a million pounds to UKIP.   What you may have missed is that he has announced that he will be standing against me at the next General Election.

This sort of announcement certainly focuses your mind on the issue of fund-raising, and our next jumble sale will have to be a real corker!   Indeed, if anyone in the hall would like to help us level the playing field in Thornbury and Yate, I will be available to receive donations, but nothing over £100,000 please..

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Steve Webb: Lib Dems will introduce “fair warning” for job-seekers who break benefit rules before sanctions imposed

webb 01The Lib Dems are taking advantage of the quiet weeks in August to drip-feed a number of new policies likely to make it into the party’s general election manifesto. Alongside reforms to police stop-and-search and fairer funding for Wales, Lib Dem work and pensions minister Steve Webb has outline plans to introduce a ‘fair warning’ before benefits sanctions are imposed against job-seekers who break the rules. The Guardian reports:

The Liberal Democrats will pledge in their general election manifesto to introduce a new “yellow card” system to give

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Opinion: Why it is wrong to enshrine the “triple lock” in law

pensionsOne of the now regular flow of “policy announcements” from the leadership calls for the 2010 ‘triple lock’ to be enshrined in law.  Passing for a moment over the fact that these “announcements” are of course nothing of the sort and discourteous to Conference which passes policy, (though, to be fair, as Mark Pack and others have pointed out, Steve Webb has been careful to avoid language some others have used that suggests these policies have been agreed without the party having a say), I think it’s the wrong idea.

Why? …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 32 Comments

The Orange Book, 10 years on: 5 thoughts on its legacy

Orange_BookToday saw what its co-editor Paul Marshall called the belated launch party for The Orange Book – such was the controversy surrounding its publication 10 years ago that the original event was cancelled. I was only able to attend one of the sessions (on public service reform) so here are five more general observations on its legacy…

1) The Orange Book remains much misunderstood, sometimes deliberately by those who enjoy internal warring, more often by those who’ve not read it (whisper it, some sections are pretty turgid) but know its reputation and assume it’s a right-wing, Thatcherite manual for destroying this country’s social contract. As Paul Marshall re-affirmed today, the aim of The Orange Book was to show how socially liberal aims could best be achieved through economically liberal means, recognising that in the real world both markets and governments fail. Two of its leading contributors are currently the most popular Lib Dem ministers in government: Vince Cable and Steve Webb. That said, it was (for both Marshall and David Laws at any rate) also a very deliberate statement of intent in 2004 that the Lib Dems needed to do more than simply out-Labour Labour by proposing new money and extra staff in every area of public service and argue that was liberalism (which is largely what the party’s 2005 manifesto did).

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 35 Comments

Steve Webb: Pensions minister with the future of millions in his hands

webb 01In a profile in the FT, Pensions Minister Steve Webb is described as “one of the Coalition’s most hyperactive lieutenants”.

Now Steve is highly efficient and has achieved a huge amount since he took on the role four years ago, but he is also unflappable and “hyperactive” is not a term I would normally use about him. And whilst the term “lieutenant” usually refers to someone who is second in command, which is technically correct for a Junior Minister, no-one in Government beats his deep knowledge of his subject.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Opinion: The most positive change for private sector pensions in half a century

webb 01The announcement in the Queen’s Speech of a new ‘Collective Defined Contribution’ pension is an historic achievement on the part of Lib Dem Pensions Minister Steve Webb, which shows that pensions are only safe in Liberal hands. It will bring about better quality pensions for millions in the private sector workforce. It’s taken him four years to arrive at this historic moment which starts to rectify the damage the Tories and Labour wrought on the retirement hopes of ordinary private sector workers.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Opinion: The First Rule of Campaigning

pensionsWe wake today to news that the Government is planning Dutch-style collective pension schemes which the minister of state for pensions,the Liberal Democrat Steve Webb, says are “some of the best in the world”. The proposed legislation will include the previously announced removal of tax rules that have prevented pensioners taking more than a quarter of their savings in a cash lump sum.

OK, there is no need for switch off. This piece is not going to be about pensions.  It is about campaigning and in particular about integrated campaigning. The subject has been chosen purely at random.  It is Monday. What has a Liberal Democrat minister announced today?  Ah! Pensions.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 31 Comments

The two Orange Bookers who’ve won over the Lib Dem membership

Orange_BookIt’s 10 years since The Orange Book was published. Edited by David Laws and Paul Marshall it was widely regarded as an attempt by economic liberals within the Lib Dems to wrest back control of the party from social liberals.

Both Laws and Marshall would argue their attempt at ‘reclaiming liberalism’ (the book’s sub-title) was more about re-balancing liberalism as practised by the Lib Dems — that the party had grown intellectually lazy, happiest with simply saying ‘tax more, spend more’ as the answer to every public policy problem without thinking …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 70 Comments

Steve Webb proposes fairer tax relief on pension contributions

Not content with the most radical reforms to private pensions in a generation, Steve Webb is proposing a flat rate of 30% of tax relief on pension contributions. Currently savers enjoy tax relief at the marginal rate of income tax they pay, so higher rate tax payers get the lion’s share, and standard rate tax payers have less incentive to save for a pension.

Steve told the Daily Mail

I’d like to see the benefits of pensions tax relief spread much more evenly.

Most people get 20 per cent relief, some people get it at 40 per cent. But the people

Posted in News | Also tagged | 28 Comments

Steve Webb on working with IDS: “When it comes to pensions I think he trusts my judgment.”

steve webbPensions minister Steve Webb is one Lib Dem minister who has emerged from Coalition with his reputation enhanced, praised even by such diverse admirers as The Sun, The Guardian and Quentin Letts. Today’s Daily Mail features a warm profile of him talking about his passion: pensions. Here are a couple of excerpts that give a flavour…

On working with Iain Duncan Smith

Today, he and Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith have become Westminster’s odd couple. IDS is renowned for his Right-wing stance on benefits and welfare, and Mr Webb

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election

Vincent CableOne of the quirks of being in coalition is the Lib Dems no longer have a shadow chancellor. But we shall need one in time for the 2015 general election – not least for the traditional televised ‘Ask the Chancellors’ debate.

There have been newspaper reports that there’s some jockeying for this position, with the Financial Times reporting that “Senior Lib Dems say the high-profile job is very likely to go to Danny Alexander, the Treasury chief secretary”.

Meanwhile, over at the New Statesman, Lib Dem blogger Richard Morris …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 45 Comments

Independent: Liberal Democrats’ “major and under-rated contribution” to Budget success

Budget 2010 photocallYesterday’s Independent editorial had some very complimentary things to say about the Liberal Democrats’ influence on the Budget:

It is widely said that George Osborne had a decent Budget this week, aided in no small part by Ed Miliband’s curiously weak response. But the Liberal Democrats, as has frequently been the case during this parliament, made a major and underrated contribution to its success.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

“Steve Webb has now become one of the most important people in government”

steve webbAccording to The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow, at any rate, who noted the Lib Dem pensions minister’s fingerprints all over this week’s budget:

The Lib Dem pensions minister, Steve Webb, has now become one of the most important people in government. A rare example of a minister who is an expert in his area, he has been pushing the pension pot liberalisation plan (which is firmly rooted in longstanding Lib Dem party policy) and the legislation on this – which he will almost certainly have to take through the Commons –

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Nick Clegg announces 2015 negotiating team

Nick Clegg has announced the team who will handle coalition negotiations after the election in 2015 (if needed, of course).  It will consist of Danny Alexander, Steve Webb, Sal Brinton, Lynne Featherstone and David Laws.

In his book ‘22 days in May‘ David Laws revealed that Nick Clegg had appointed the 2010 negotiating team in secret during the previous year. The team was not put together in haste after the election, as many had assumed, so there were really no excuses for the absence of women. Politically David Laws and Danny Alexander were drawn from the economic liberal wing of …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 42 Comments

Steve Webb on switching annuities for a better pension

The Telegraph reports that Liberal Democrat pensions minister Steve Webb is considering allowing pensioners to switch annuity providers bringing more competition and better value for pensioners.

The intervention comes before a report from regulators that is expected to accuse pension firms of making excessive profits from millions of people converting their lifetime savings into annuities.

Currently, most people are forced to use their pension savings to buy an annuity — paying an annual income for the rest of their lives. For many people, it is the biggest financial decision they will make. However, in recent years annuity rates have plunged, trapping many people in poor-value schemes that have destroyed the value of their lifetime savings.

The ability to switch annuities after retirement would trigger a revolution for savers and kick-start an industry catering for people who are shopping around to boost the value of their pension.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 10 Comments

The battle for pensioners’ votes begins with Cameron on Liberal Democrat turf

The latest Ashcroft polling shows that the Conservatives have a long way to go to be within a shout of victory, with 37% of those who voted Tory saying at the moment that they would not do so if there were an election tomorrow. It’s hardly surprising, then, that David Cameron kicks off the next stage in the 2015 election campaign, in an interview with today’s Sunday Times (£), by pledging to stick to one of the Coalition’s most successful policies through another Parliament.

The Tories have previous for trying to claim the credit for a Liberal Democrat policy. Last …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 20 Comments

LibLink: Steve Webb – Issue of pension charges has been neglected for too long

The BBC reports on Steve Webb’s planned “full frontal assault” on the charges that pensions companies levy for management of pensions funds:

Pensions minister Steve Webb told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast that the move was just the start of a much broader review into pensions charges.

He said: “We do have powers to cap a much wider range of charges. The document today looks at banning something called active member discounts. That means when you leave a firm they jack your charges up – we don’t think this is right so we will probably ban those.”

Steve has written an article …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 19 Comments

A reply to Matt on welfare by Lib Dem ministers Norman Lamb and Steve Webb: “We believe in standing up for the vulnerable”

This week, Lib Dem Voice published a deeply personal account by one of our readers, Matt: I need the Liberal Democrats to stand up for me when Conservative ministers denigrate me. It was read by many in the party, including two Lib Dem ministers in the Coalition — Norman Lamb MP (Department of Health) and Steve Webb MP (Department for Work and Pensions) — who have co-authored the following response.

lamb and webb

When we read the article posted on Lib Dem Voice on Wednesday by Matt, setting out very personally the distressing and painful experiences he has faced over the past few years in trying to access the welfare and health support he needs, we felt it was important that we respond properly to what he had said.

As Liberal Democrats, we instinctively understand that divisive rhetoric is both unhelpful and inaccurate, and for both of these reasons we should all remain constantly vigilant in challenging those who use this type of language to denigrate any member of our society. We believe in standing up for the vulnerable and providing support to those who are facing personal difficulties in their lives.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 12 Comments

Might some of the welfare changes be a little more helpful to people than Osborne made out?

Conservative Conference week is never an easy time to be a Liberal Democrat. The Conservative in its natural habitat is not a pretty sight to those of us who cherish the principles at the heart of the preamble to our constitution, of liberty, equality and community, of freeing people from poverty, ignorance or conformity. The words Tory leaders use to rally their troops give us that joyless feeling that is known in Scotland as the dry boak.

But, you know, the Tory conference is what the Cabinet table would be like if it weren’t for the Liberal Democrats in Government. …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 70 Comments

Economy motion carried: Nick Clegg wins overwhelming backing from Lib Dem conference

Lib Dem conference has spoken — and it has overwhelmingly backed Nick Clegg. Before the debate I had a hunch the result would be somewhat different. Though Nick had shrugged off a reported split with Vince Cable as “a storm in a tea cup”, I thought Vince’s obvious discontent with the decision to make this vote a test of strength, together with the assiduous ground-work and careful drafting of the Social Liberal Forum’s amendments, would pose a real problem for the party leadership.

And for the first third of the debate I thought my hunch might be fulfilled, with …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Reflections on the Social Liberal Forum conference

slflogoSo what did we learn this weekend?

In several ways, the Social Liberal Forum conference in Manchester has been about celebration. Not only was the weather as glorious as it was when I left that great city as a student; but the work of the SLF in ensuring the delivery of social Liberal policies in Government has been worthwhile, should not be ignored and merits recognition for those who have played a part in it.

We were also – rightly – challenged by Norman Lamb when thinking about public services, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

The Steve Webb interview: How I built a modern, inclusive, liberal State Pension system

steve webbAt the excellent Social Liberal Forum Conference on Saturday, a group of eight bloggers spent the lunch break interviewing Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb just before he delivered the second Beveridge Memorial Lecture.

The thing about Steve Webb is that he might have Professor in front of his name and MP after it, but he’s  in no way intimidating, though. He speaks with authority, but engagingly so,  has no airs and graces and has a knack of explaining some complex concepts in language that even I can understand. He …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

Interview: Nick Clegg on the economy, welfare, Cleggism and the “superb” Kung Fu Panda films

CleggWe brought you a taste of the Voice’s exclusive interview with the deputy prime minister yesterday. Here is the full interview, covering the economy, welfare reform, pensions, Cleggism, our approach to the manifesto, Kung Fu Panda and Clegg’s cooking.

Nick Thornsby: What’s your take on where the economy is now, three and a bit years into the coalition?

Nick Clegg: My overall assessment is that it is healing. There are signs of confidence slowly seeping back into the sinews of the economy. Some of the latest data on consumer confidence are better …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 7 Comments

Pensions, the triple lock and Scottish independence

Steve Webb has come under a bit of fire for comments that his triple lock, which guarantees a state pension rise by the higher of earnings, inflation or 2.5% can’t be guaranteed after the election. Let’s look at what he actually said to the Financial Times.

My view is it should be triple lock; to be absolutely clear, I would want to see that continue. But we, as a party, will have to thrash that one out.

He made clear that this would be something that all parties would have go deal with.

This is pretty much a statement of the obvious. …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Well done, Ed Balls. He’s opened up space for a proper welfare debate. Lib Dems now need to claim that space.

Ed Balls has done us all a favour. His announcement last week that if he were Chancellor he would put a stop to winter fuel allowances for well-off pensioners means Labour has joined the Lib Dems in saying we need to focus the welfare budget where it’s needed most, not keep on re-distributing from the worse off to the better off in the name of universalism. It’s why I chose him as my 38th Liberal Hero.

And yesterday he was at it again, highlighting quite how much of the welfare budget the state pension represents — some £74 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 13 Comments

11 Liberal Democrat MPs vote for registrars to be exempt from marrying same sex couples

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has made fairly easy progress through the Commons tonight. After a Government/Labour compromise on a review for extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples, and the heavy defeat or withdrawal of amendments, including “son of Section 28″, it looks as though many of the barriers to this Bill’s passage have been removed.

There is still a further day of debate tomorrow, though, and further amendments to be debated.

One of the amendments discussed today, defeated by 340 votes to 150 in favour, was to allow registrars to exempt themselves from marrying same sex couples. Eleven Liberal …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 70 Comments

Welfare reform: what should the Lib Dems do?

This much I think I know… Cuts to the overall welfare budget are inescapable: it accounts for too large a chunk of of public spending for it to be immune — certainly if the NHS, schools and overseas aid budgets are to be protected at the same time as spending is reduced.

These cuts would be happening whichever party was in power, though doubtless the precise methods would differ. The IFS’s verdict in 2010 on what they termed Labour’s “fiscal drift” was stark: “By the eve of the financial crisis … the UK one of the largest structural …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 25 Comments

Hoggart on Webb: “He understands it so you don’t have to! Thank heavens!”

steve webbThe Guardian’s Simon Hoggart has been collecting examples of impenetrable jargon. This week, Lib Dem pensions minister Steve Webb features:

Thanks for the many examples of jargon you’ve sent in, and we’ll have a proper look at it all soon. In the meantime, there are examples which are actually quite helpful.

Take work and pensions, which is without a doubt the most difficult of all government departments. Yet the Liberal Democrat minister Steve Webb actually seems to know exactly what he is talking about. He may be alone. See if you

Posted in Humour | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Opinion: The real split in today’s Liberal Democrats – and how to fix it

As this weekend’s events have proved, the real and fundamental split in the Liberal Democrats of 2013 is not between Liberals and Social Democrats, economic liberalism or social liberalism, centrists and radicals.  It is a real and growing divide between the Party’s leadership and its activists; and that has been thrown into sharp relief by both the result of the Eastleigh by-election and events at Conference.  As Dan Falchikov, with whom I’m in frequent agreement on strategic if not economic issues, highlights, it is an issue that could be very serious if unaddressed.

The reasons for this are broadly twofold.

The …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 42 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPaul Walter 22nd Nov - 11:26pm
    @amalric Hello? I quoted one of the main planks of the policy and linked to it.
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 22nd Nov - 11:18pm
    Alain Desmier I don’t have a repertoire of Liberal Party songs that I can use to make my point for me. No, but you have...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 22nd Nov - 11:04pm
    Stevan Rose Would you build up masses of personal debt that your kids and grandkids would be legally obliged to repay? Of course not, so...
  • User AvatarMark Valladares 22nd Nov - 11:03pm
    @ Jonathan, An interesting thought, but I suspect that we all have different approaches to the task. I tend to draw up a written list,...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 22nd Nov - 10:51pm
    @JohnTilley London? Does the world revolve around London? Is that where you live? Are you suggesting that there is a uniform swing across the country?...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 22nd Nov - 10:46pm
    Stevan Rose And those with an entrepreneurial spirit and those content to sit back while others to take the risks, work 60-70 hours a week,...