20 March 2021 – the day’s press releases (part 1)

  • Small businesses must be at the heart of our recovery
  • Liberal Democrats champion a fairer deal for consumers
  • Liberal Democrats call for emergency £2.6bn carers support package
  • Small businesses must be at the heart of our recovery

    Liberal Democrats have passed a motion at their Spring Conference calling for a comprehensive package of support for small businesses and the self-employed, including:

    • Dedicated support schemes for the worst-affected sectors, such as hospitality, tourism, charities and the creative industries.
    • More support for businesses as we return to normal, by extending business rates relief, VAT reductions and tax deferrals.

    Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Treasury, Christine Jardine MP, welcomed the motion being passed:

    Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they must be at the heart of our recovery.

    The Government’s approach to helping small businesses through the pandemic has been short sighted and painfully inadequate. Our local high streets are seeing cherished community shops close whilst major online retailers thrive.

    From beauticians to builders, hairdressers to launderettes. Our high streets, industrial estates and business parks are full of small businesses calling out for more support. We must not forget – these are people who have given their whole life to running a business of their own, and have lost out through no fault of their own and creating jobs.

    The Liberal Democrats will stand up for small businesses and today’s motion cements our work on this. We are calling on the Chancellor to offer a bold and meaningful package of support, which brings all small businesses under the umbrella of Government help. Our proposals are creative, innovative, and designed to help people and their businesses through the pandemic.

    Liberal Democrats champion a fairer deal for consumers

    This morning, The Liberal Democrats passed a motion championing a fairer deal for consumers. The wide-ranging motion has calls for:

    • Making energy bills fairer by eliminating regional differences in electricity bills – saving money for consumers in South West England, Wales and Scotland.
    • More opportunities for consumers to save on their water bills
    • A new Railway Agency to strategically manage the UK’s train network, plan new investments and make rail fares simpler and cheaper.

    Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy, said it is time to end the postcode lottery on energy bills which gives an unfair deal to parts of the UK:

    It is a disgrace that struggling families are now being hit by this grossly unfair postcode lottery.

    I am calling for the costs to regions paying extortionate bills to be immediately reduced.

    Liberal Democrats have a longstanding commitment to community energy which would decentralise the system and restrict the hold that big energy companies have. But the government is resisting the change in the law that would enable small local providers to enter the market.

    Liberal Democrats call for emergency £2.6bn carers support package

    The Liberal Democrats are calling for £2.6 billion worth of support for unpaid carers, through an increase to Carer’s Allowance and emergency funding for carers breaks.

    At the party’s Spring Conference, members have backed a motion from Leader Ed Davey calling on the Government to do more to support the UK’s 11.5 million unpaid carers, by:

    • Raising Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year, and expanding the number of carers who are eligible for it.
    • Giving councils emergency funding for respite care so carers can take breaks.
    • Introducing paid Carer’s Leave and requiring employers to make reasonable adjustments for carers.

    During the debate, Ed Davey also announced that he is establishing a Liberal Democrat Carers Commission, to examine the challenges carers are facing and find new ways to support them.

    Following the debate, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

    This pandemic has shown that we are a nation of carers. But people looking after their loved ones are still too often forgotten and ignored by people in power.

    The challenges carers face every day have been made even harder by Covid. Most are having to spend more time looking after loved ones during this pandemic. Most haven’t been able to take a single break since it started. Most are simply exhausted.

    We must do far more to support our wonderful carers. The Government should start by immediately raising Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year, and providing emergency funding for local councils to give carers a break.

    The Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic.

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