17 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Inflation figures: People will never forgive this Government for abandoning them
  • Thames Water hosepipe ban: slap in the face for millions of people
  • “Nasty party”: Kwarteng must clarify Truss’s shameful ‘graft’ comments
  • 75,000 A-Level grades set to be deflated under Government’s exam plans
  • Councillor Sykes welcomes change in law barring sex offenders from standing for or holding elected office

Inflation figures: People will never forgive this Government for abandoning them

Responding to inflation reaching 10.1% this morning, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Britain is heading for the worst economic crisis in a generation, yet the Prime Minister has clocked off early whilst Sunak and Truss are too busy squabbling amongst themselves.

Families and pensioners will never forgive this Conservative Government for abandoning them in the middle of a cost of living catastrophe.

The answer is staring Conservative MPs in the face but they refuse to act. Energy bills must be frozen immediately or else millions of people will be plunged into financial devastation this winter.

Thames Water hosepipe ban: slap in the face for millions of people

Responding to the news that Thames Water will enforce a hosepipe ban, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

This is a slap in the face for millions of people when Thames Water is losing a quarter of all their water to leaks.

Their gross negligence to fix leaks is set to inflict hosepipe ban misery across the South. We wouldn’t be in this mess if Thames Water bothered to invest properly. Instead, water companies are choosing to pay themselves billions of pounds in profits and reward their CEOs with insulting bonuses. Thames Water is putting profit above the public and environment.

Ministers are to blame for letting profiteering water companies get away with it. Under this Government, our rivers have become polluted with sewage and water pipes rusting with leaks.

“Nasty party”: Kwarteng must clarify Truss’s shameful ‘graft’ comments

The Liberal Democrats have written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, challenging him to denounce Liz Truss’s comments on British workers.

Liberal Democrat Business & Industrial Strategy Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said Truss had not abandoned an “insulting” mindset which dates back to the publication of the 2012 book Britannia Unchained, which labelled British workers among “the worst idlers in the world”.

The Lib Dems have asked Kwarteng, a co-author of Britannia Unchained, whether he still shares Liz Truss’s views about British workers – and have asked him to denounce Liz Truss’s comments if he does not, in his capacity as the Minister responsible for employment.

Kwarteng, a Truss supporter is tipped to be the next Chancellor should she win the Conservative contest in September.

Liberal Democrat Business & Industrial Strategy Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The nasty party strikes again. Truss’s mask has slipped with these shameful comments.

People across Britain are having to work harder than ever, thanks to the Conservatives’ failure to offset the cost of living catastrophe. As the Minister ultimately responsible for employment practice, Kwasi Kwarteng must prove that he no longer holds this offensive view by denouncing Liz Truss’s remarks.

How can Truss expect to win the support of the British public with views like this? She must apologise – and those supporting her should make clear whether or not they support her following these callous revelations.

75,000 A-Level grades set to be deflated under Government’s exam plans

75,266 A-Level exam results in England could miss out on a A* or A grade today (Thursday 18 August) due to the Government’s plan to deflate grades, new analysis by the Liberal Democrats reveals.

The Chief Regulator of Ofqual, Dr Jo Saxton, has instructed exam boards to set grade boundaries in a way that “reflects a mid-point between 2021 and pre-pandemic grading”.

The exact boundaries will vary by subject and grade. However, analysis by the Liberal Democrats shows that, should each subject adopt the exact midpoint between the 2019 and 2021 results, 75,266 exams (9.6% of all A-Level exams sat) that would have been given an A or A* in 2021 will not make the grade this year.

Around 7,800 Psychology students will miss out on an A or A* grade compared to last year, more than any other subject. In Music, more than one in six of the 5,300 students entered for the A-Level this year could miss out on the top grades, which they would have received last year.

The 18-year-olds sitting A-Levels this summer had every year of their GCSE and A-Level studies disrupted by the pandemic. Students in this year group missed 61 days of education due to lockdowns since March 2020 on average.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

The Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down these pupils, their parents and their teachers since day one of the pandemic.

The Conservatives have fiddled the figures and failed our young people yet again. Ministers are throwing into question thousands of students’ futures by taking their grades away to correct two years of exam chaos.

This uncaring Conservative carousel of Education Secretaries cannot be trusted with our young people’s future any longer. We need proper investment in helping children recover lost learning from the pandemic, and we need this Government gone.

Councillor Sykes welcomes change in law barring sex offenders from standing for or holding elected office

After years of campaigning, Oldham’s Liberal Democrat Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has welcomed the news that laws will be changed to prevent people on the sex offenders register holding elected office.

Councillor Sykes said, “I am pleased that the common-sense law change is finally coming into effect. Rishi Sunak announced that the government would adopt this proposal back when he was a Local Government Minister in 2018 but he’s dragged his feet on getting the law changed.”

The changes to the Local Government Act were finally put before MPs in June and were signed off by both Houses of Parliament on July 6th. The Statuary Instruments (S.I) to make this law have now also been approved. The new regulations come into effect immediately for all local elections in England.

Councillor Sykes said,

People expect the highest standards from those who serve in public office. I am glad this loophole has at long last been plugged, shame it took so long.

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3 Comments

  • Peter Watson 18th Aug '22 - 8:04am

    The crude analysis by the party is an interesting – but possibly misleading – take on the A-level grades. And focusing on A and A* grades perhaps says something about the party’s priorities.
    It shows that, compared to the last time students actually sat A-level exams, far more students will be receiving these top grades. This could be pitched as a positive. The last two years have seen exam candidates getting their best possible grades, even if there were no inflation by teachers. This year’s results would inevitably reflect the fact that sitting external exams means students are more likely to under-perform – for a variety of reasons – than exceed their teachers’ predictions, and the Conservatives’ “fiddling of the figures” appears set to soften this (for one year, at least).
    And what alternative is Munira Wilson and the party actually proposing here? It would be nice to hear them challenging the status quo and the emphasis of 16+ education on a pretty narrow academic range and means of assessment, especially given that it became even narrower on the party’s watch in Coalition.

  • @Peter – I think Munira Wilson wants grade inflation. The reason for the “deflation” is the teacher-marked grade inflation(*) of the last two years and an entirely sensible approach to addressing it. Interestingly, what the various statements about this years grade adjustments imply is that there are a large number of students this year who have had their grades adjusted upwards ie. if they had sat the exam pre-CoVid they would have received a lower final grade for the same marks.

    Aside: I’m looking at the AS-level results as these are a potential indicator of next years A-level results for the cohort who suffered the greatest disruption to their GCSE studies.

    (*)For those who don’t believe teachers did inflate grades, it is quite educational to take a school and a subject where you know there has been no change in teaching staff for a few years. One independent school for the three years preceding CoVid a fraction of a year group got good grades, for the two CoVid teacher’ assessed years the entire year group got good grades, I suspect (as not looked) this year’s figures are closer to pre-CoVid.

  • Peter Watson 19th Aug '22 - 1:07am

    @Roland “The reason for the “deflation” is the teacher-marked grade inflation(*) of the last two years and an entirely sensible approach to addressing it.”
    Grades predicted or marked by teachers would always be higher than those achieved in exams, unless somebody can come up with a foolproof way to predict which children will have a bad day and in which subject! I guess that UCAS must have years of data that could be used to investigate the usual gap between candidates’ predicted and actual grades, but would that help? Obviously there was an attempt to moderate the 2020 grades, but that fell apart because of the unintended consequence that excluding small classes for statistical reasons introduced a bias towards private schools.
    I think the whole issue around grades over the last few years has been a horrible and complex problem for all concerned. My youngest child has been caught in the middle of it (GCSEs in 2020, A-levels this year), so we have been deeply affected, but I have no idea what approach would be consistent and fair to all students who were assessed before, during, or after covid.
    I’m prepared to believe that everybody has tried to do the best they could, and with good intentions, when faced with such difficult problems, even Gavin Williamson! That’s why I get annoyed by so much carping like that reported in the article – especially if it makes me feel I have to defend the Tories! – when it is not backed up by constructive and concrete proposals and alternatives.

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