Author Archives: Jenny Willott

Jenny Willott writes: Is Citizens’ Income the answer to the failures of our social security system?

I recently wrote a piece for Lib Dem Voice about “Mending the Safety Net”, the policy paper on social security which will be discussed at conference in Brighton.  One of the issues raised in the comment on the piece was, understandably, why the group ended up not supporting a move to a Citizen’s Income.  Rather than a long comment on the original piece, I thought it would be helpful to explain the groups view in a separate post.

In a nutshell, the Citizen’s Income pays the same amount to every resident, regardless of whether they are in work or not.  There is no means testing and no conditions apply to those receiving the payment.  Every citizen receives the same amount, although in some schemes there are different amounts for children, working age adults and pensioners.  There are a number of different monikers and different ways of doing similar things, such as Negative Income Tax and Universal Basic Income, most of which we looked into, but for simplicity I’m just going to refer to ‘Citizen’s Income’ throughout.

At first glance it seems simple and easy to administer, and could help put an end to the divisive ‘them versus us’ narrative that has infected the debate on welfare.

That is why I and many others on the social security group were initially very attracted to the idea. We read a lot about it and invited a number of people who have advocated the policy to give evidence to the group. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 65 Comments

Jenny Willott writes…Mending the Safety Net – our proposals for reforming working age social security

Since last October, I have been chairing the Social Security Working Group, which has been taking a fresh look at party policy in this area.  We had a wide ranging remit covering all aspects of working age social security, from supporting people with disabilities to tackling child poverty.  We have now published our policy recommendations: it has been a big challenge, but thanks to a working group of passionate, talented people, ranging from experienced policy makers to new enthusiastic party members, I think we’ve produced a paper of which Lib Dems can be proud. You can find Mending the Safety Net here.

I thought it would be helpful to set out some of the key things we are proposing.  We heard a lot of different ideas and proposals from party members, experts and NGOs, and have sought to propose policy that is liberal and distinctive, but which, crucially, could make a real and practical difference to people’s lives.

Reducing child poverty

From the outset the group agreed that reducing child poverty should be our priority. We know that a child growing up in poverty will already be attaining less than their better off peers by the time they start school, they will be bullied more, have poorer health and are less likely to leave school with five A* – C GCSE passes. We felt strongly that it should be a real priority to tackle the barriers created for children that grow up in poverty.

Unlike when Labour first came to power, the majority of children growing up in poverty now do so in households where at least one person works. That’s why one of our key recommendations is to introduce a second earner’s allowance to Universal Credit. This could transform the lives of many children by dramatically increasing the amount of money going to some of the lowest paid families in our country. We also want to see an increase of £5 a week to the child element of Universal Credit for the first child in a family to help new families afford the high costs associated with a first child.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 26 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes… Historic milestone for women on company boards

Canary Wharf photo by Jim NixOn Thursday, 26th June, 2014, I was delighted to hear the news that the mining and commodities trader Glencore Xstrata had appointed Patrice Merrin, a Canadian former mining executive, as an independent non-executive director.

This decision means there are no longer any all-male boards amongst the UK’s top companies. In 2011, 21 of the FTSE100 companies had no women on their boards, and now there are none. This is an important step forward and one which Liberal Democrats can be proud of helping to make happen. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 35 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes…Cracking down on copycat websites

imageThe internet has made life a lot easier in many ways for many people – I can hardly imagine a time when I wasn’t able to make online bank transfers, get a grocery shop delivered or book a holiday online. However, as we all spend more time online and use the internet to do increasing numbers of things, new problems and challenges arise which we have to address.

People deserve the same protection online as they get offline, and we need to make sure that we have the ability and resources to ensure this is the case.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Jenny Willott writes… How Lib Dems are giving families choice through shared parental leave and flexible working

Parents and child - Some rights reserved by Ed YourtonAs a mother with two small children myself, I know how hard it can be to balance work and family life. And as a Lib Dem, I firmly believe in equal opportunities for all and tackling discrimination, whatever form it takes.

So I am really excited that with Lib Dems in Government, we are shaking up the status quo to make it easier for parents with young children to arrange their work/life balance however best suits them.

We need to challenge the old-fashioned …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 2 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes… Young people and policing: the opportunity of Crime Commissioner elections

With the November elections for Police and Crime Commissioners rapidly approaching, candidates across the country are starting to outline how they intend to improve public safety in the areas they want to represent. Successful candidates will have to set out a five year police and crime plan to determine local policing priorities.

One issue I think is vital for candidates to address is how to engage properly with young people. Back in 2006, when I was our Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs, young people often spoke to me about their lack of confidence in the police. Today, I still have the …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Jenny Willott MP writes…Get behind Bablin Molik, Cardiff South and Penarth by-election candidate

In the aftermath of the Cabinet re-shuffle, a lot has been made of the shortage of female representatives within government. This is a particularly painful allegation for us as Liberal Democrats.

It is of course good news that some of the great women in our party have been promoted:  Jo Swinson MP is now Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, Baroness Jenny Randerson is taking up a role in the Wales Office, Lynne Featherstone MP has moved to the Department for International Development and Lorely Burt has become Parliamentary Private Secretary to Danny Alexander MP.

Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes… The Welfare Reform Bill – What’s happened on ESA?

Benefits are not an easy subject to get your head around: we have a benefits system with enough acronyms, assessments, taper rates and tax credits to make your head spin. That’s why this Government is finally undertaking a hugely important and long-overdue reform of benefits.

Universal Credit will replace the complicated mix of tax credits, JSA, ESA, Housing Benefit and so on with one simple benefit. And the Universal Credit is why the Welfare Reform Bill is so crucial. It will revolutionise the way we support those who are unemployed, disabled, sick or caring for a loved …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 53 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes… Protecting a lifeline – Lib Dem success in battle for DLA Mobility Component

With all the headlines and discussion this week about the Autumn Statement and public sector strikes, people would have been forgiven for missing an announcement from the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, that proves once again the Lib Dem influence in Government, and fulfilling yet another Conference motion.

Maria Miller has today announced that the Government is dropping the proposals to remove the Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from people in residential care homes.

The reversal answers the calls our Party made last Spring in Liverpool, where we passed a motion calling for the plan to be dropped. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 12 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes: Harrington – better assessments, better outcomes

At our Conference in September, the Liberal Democrats unanimously supported a motion calling for changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which accompanies it.

Speaker after speaker stood up to condemn the system left by Labour which subjected sick and disabled people to an ineffective, demeaning assessment process that was not fit for purpose. Many will remember the powerful speech by Shana Pezaro who condemned the WCA process as ‘utterly failing many people’.

The motion welcomed the first annual review of the WCA by Professor Malcolm Harrington, and the progress the Coalition Government has already …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes: 18 months and over a Billion pounds – Lib Dem victory on Women’s State Pension Age

The UK is getting older. In 1970 a person reaching 60 could expect to live a further 18 years. Last year, this had become 28 years. Advances in healthcare, living standards and technology mean that people are living longer and life expectancy is rapidly increasing.

That is why the Government took the decision to bring forward planned increases in the State Pension Age. As I’ve said on Lib Dem Voice before, it is absolutely right for the Government to do this. It’s not a nice decision but doing nothing would risk plunging future pensioners into poverty with less and less …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes: Calling for a fair rise in the State Pension age

In 1970 a person reaching 60 could expect to live a further 18 years. Last year, they could expect to live another 28 years. Advances in healthcare, living standards and technology mean that people in the UK are living longer and life expectancy is rapidly increasing.

This is something we should celebrate, but it is also something for which we must plan. We cannot expect people to work until they drop but the longer people spend in retirement, the more strain this puts on public services and, in particular, on the Government’s ability to pay people a decent pension.

Last year around …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 16 Comments

Jenny Willott: Labour’s back-to-work policies won’t work

The Lib Dems agree with the Labour Government that there should be more private and voluntary sector involvement in back-to-work support, but the Government’s proposed model – the ‘right to bid’ – will not put the individual at the centre of employment services.

The Government will negotiate central contracts with providers, setting one-size-fits-all time limits for jobseekers to take up a job or face benefit cuts. Voluntary sector organisations, who are often very effective at getting disadvantaged groups back into work, will not be able to afford to bid speculatively for the contracts, which is such a waste.

Not only …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | 6 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKeith Browning 11th Nov - 9:43pm
    As one of the active 'remain camp' living in Spain we are all despairing that Lib Dems seem to be fighting Labour as hard as...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 11th Nov - 7:59pm
    As I say, Caron, good luck with your efforts.
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 11th Nov - 7:37pm
    @Mick Taylor @7pm Seconded
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 11th Nov - 7:00pm
    Richard Underhill. You may be right but it doesn't invalidate my point. If leaders showed more concern about peace and less about their own status/machismo,...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 11th Nov - 6:24pm
    It was touching to see Jo at the cenotaph because she so visibly represented a different generation.
  • User AvatarCathy M 11th Nov - 6:06pm
    David Allen missed out a third reason voters are looking at issues: the forthcoming general election is not in fact a referendum on Brexit. If...