17-19 March 2023 – the Conference weekend press releases (part 2)

  • Lib Dems call for emergency action to end dental deserts
  • Banks’ £17.8 billion tax cut could have funded pay rise for 150,000 carers
  • Lib Dems call for long-term strategy to end energy crisis

Lib Dems call for emergency action to end dental deserts

The Liberal Democrats have blasted the Government for the spread of ‘dental deserts’ across the UK.

Vast areas of the country are without access to NHS dental appointments, often in rural or deprived areas.

The Party passed a motion at its Spring Conference today which called for urgent reform to the NHS dental contract to ensure everyone can get the care they need and isn’t forced to go private.

The plans also call for an emergency scheme to ensure children, pregnant women and young mothers have access to their free check ups on time.

This comes as Healthwatch England found that 41% of people are struggling to get an NHS dental appointment, with one in five unable to access all the treatments they needed.

Under the proposals, there would be an increase to the number of dentist training places in the UK and continued recognition of EU trained dentists’ qualifications.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling for the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and children’s toothpaste.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health and Social Care, Daisy Cooper MP said:

Our NHS dental system is completely broken. NHS appointments are scarce at best and in some places don’t exist at all. People are being forced to spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds on private dental care with some even resorting to their own at-home DIY dentistry.

This Conservative Government has done next to nothing to tackle this crisis.

Rishi Sunak would rather engage in divisive culture wars to cover up his government’s appalling record on the NHS, which is leaving dental patients in pain and distress.

The Liberal Democrats believe that everyone should be able to access a dentist when they need one.

Banks’ £17.8 billion tax cut could have funded pay rise for 150,000 carers

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Chancellor to cancel Conservative tax cuts for big banks and instead give carers a pay rise, after analysis of figures buried in the Budget revealed banks are being handed a tax cut of £17.8 billion over the next five years.

In a speech at the party’s Spring Conference today, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney called on the Chancellor to scrap the tax cuts for banks and use the money to fund a pay rise for social care workers instead.

Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget confirmed that the planned Bank Surcharge cut from 8% to 3% will go ahead next month (from 1 April). Coming on top of the Government’s previous cuts to the Bank Levy, it means a total giveaway to banks of £17.8 billion over the next five years, Liberal Democrat analysis of the latest OBR forecasts has revealed.

As the NHS crisis continues to spiral out of control, the Liberal Democrats want to see the tax cut cancelled and a £2 an hour pay rise given to carers.

Giving all social care workers a pay rise of £2 an hour would cost Local Authorities – who commission care services – approximately £1bn a year. Liberal Democrats have said that this additional cost should be funded by the central Government, to protect councils’ budgets.

Reversing Conservative tax cuts to the banking sector would raise up to £3.8bn a year, or £17.8bn over the next five years. This would comfortably cover the cost of giving all care workers a pay rise. It would also raise enough money for the Government to cover the equivalent of 150,000 carer salaries at the new higher minimum wage – or 90% of all current vacancies in social care.

Under Liberal Democrat plans, social care workers would be paid at least £2 an hour more than the current minimum wage, bringing their pay up to at least £12.42 from this April. This pay rise for care workers would alleviate pressure on the NHS, cut down waiting times for hospitals and ambulances and fix the broken, understaffed social care system.

There are currently a staggering 165,000 vacancies in social care, up 55,000 since last year, with one in nine frontline care jobs vacant.

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

It’s baffling that this Conservative Government is pressing ahead with handing out billions in tax cuts for the big banks, while the NHS is crumbling and families struggle to pay the bills.

It shows yet again that Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are staggeringly out of touch and have their priorities totally wrong.

Fixing our broken social care system needs to be top of the agenda. The Chancellor needs to go back to the drawing board with these plans. This money would be far better spent funding a pay rise for carers and investing in our NHS.

Lib Dems call for long-term strategy to end energy crisis

The Liberal Democrats have blasted the Government for their lack of a comprehensive energy strategy to deliver energy strategy. The party noted that a successful strategy would reduce costs to households and businesses, end fuel poverty and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Party passed a motion at its Spring Conference today which called for the Government to close loopholes in their windfall tax.

The Liberal Democrat motion demands that the Government

  • Remove restrictions on new solar and wind to accelerate the deployment of renewable power
  • Cut the Energy Price Guarantee to £1,971 for the average household until April 2024
  • Extend energy support for businesses for another six months
  • Empower local authorities to support the expansion community and decentralised energy

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy, Wera Hobhouse MP said:

Countless families and businesses across the country are still facing a cliff edge this year.

For too long, the Conservative Government has been completely out of touch, making promises but not delivering. We need a Government focused on action rather than words, with a long-term energy strategy to stop this nightmare from repeating.

People deserve a fair deal with Britain’s energy supply secured into the future and much stronger renewable growth.

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