Author Archives: Mark Valladares

14 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats call on Williamson to resign in the face of grades chaos
  • Plummeting health visitor numbers demand action, Liberal Democrats warn

Liberal Democrats call on Williamson to resign in the face of grades chaos

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran has described Gavin Williamson as “out of his depth” and said that he must go in the wake of yesterday’s “shambolic” grade outcomes.

Moran’s push for Williamson to resign follows criticism of the Secretary of State’s errors through the COVID-19 crisis, from the failure to ensure disadvantaged pupils had access to remote learning devices to botched efforts to open schools more widely before the pandemic was under control.

The Party are calling for all pupils to have a right to appeal their grade awards with no charge, and the chance to sit the examinations at the earliest possible date at no cost. They are further demanding that the Government urge universities to be lenient in admissions requirements.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The shambolic handling of A-level results has left many young people in crisis. Despite the warning signs from Scotland, the Education Secretary pushed ahead with plans which ignored teachers’ advice and have disproportionately affected pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. With this unfair system, he has created untold confusion and distress.

Gavin Williamson is an Education Secretary out of his depth and out of excuses. He must take responsibility for his mistakes and step down with immediate effect. Our young people and our country cannot afford these blunders to continue into September, ahead of a potential second wave.

If the Government continue to refuse to put their trust in teachers predictions, they must ensure every pupil has the right to appeal free of charge, and the opportunity to sit these examinations should they wish. We also need to see clear guidance from the Government to universities to ensure greater leniency in admissions decisions.

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14 August 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • Rise in discrimination towards BAME people since lockdown must be tackled
  • Government must compensate people forced to miss work in order to quarantine

Rise in discrimination towards BAME people since lockdown must be tackled

Responding to a University College London study that found BAME groups were most likely to report facing discrimination since lockdown began, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Everyone should be free to live their lives without fear of discrimination, abuse or violence. Reports that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people have been most likely to experience discrimination since lockdown began is deeply alarming.

All of us with a public platform must stand up to those whose language and actions spread hate – whether based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or anything else.

The Home Secretary must step up and tackle this appalling trend head-on. That work must be part of a wider effort to tackle systemic racial inequality, which is why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to implement a Race Equality Strategy.

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13 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Millions of EU citizens living with uncertainty must be given right to stay
  • Appeals process critical to ensure grade awards do not “derail” students’ futures
  • Record NHS waiting lists point to another health crisis, Liberal Democrats warn

Millions of EU citizens living with uncertainty must be given right to stay

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to grant EU citizens the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need, as new Home Office figures reveal thousands are being refused and millions are still awaiting a final decision.

The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics, published this morning, reveal 4,600 people have been refused Settled Status, while 1,475,500 have only been granted temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ and 212,400 are still waiting for a decision.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

For far too long, millions of EU citizens in the UK have been living under a cloud of uncertainty. Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to continue to break his promise to them.

With so many people being refused Settled Status, granted only temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ or still waiting for a decision, it’s clear that this Conservative Government’s scheme is anything but automatic.

And without physical proof of their rights, EU citizens will be at the mercy of the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment. They must not become the victims of a new Windrush-style scandal.

That is why Liberal Democrats have called for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need.

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12 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • GDP figures show need for more radical action from Government
  • Using mock exams won’t resolve grade award crisis
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats launch campaign calling for Rishi Sunak not to tax carers COVID bonus

GDP figures show need for more radical action from Government

Responding to the news that the economy is facing the worst recession in UK history, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Ministers must take immediate action to save jobs and livelihoods as the true economic impact of Covid-19 comes to light.

The Treasury must explain how it is going to stop mass redundancies when the furlough scheme wraps up. It

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Are the Liberal Democrats manageable?

Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece questioning a proposal for managing the Party through a Steering Group, pointing out that, based on what I had been led to understand, it appeared to duplicate existing bodies while adding another step between those in charge and those to whom they are accountable. Subsequently, there were reassurances given, which I think were reasonable.

But today, I have another question.

When the Liberal Democrats were formed, it was said that it was a merger of one Party whose motto was “never trust the members” with another whose motto was “never trust the leadership”. The problem is, that the two beliefs continue to run in parallel, and are reflected in how we run our Party today.

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11 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats call for independent equality assessment of Voter ID plan
  • Liberal Democrats: Government must halt use of facial recognition by police

Liberal Democrats call for independent equality assessment of Voter ID plan

The Liberal Democrats are calling for independent equality impact assessments into voter ID to protect “the legitimacy and integrity” of the UK electoral system as the Government looks to press ahead with voter ID legislation.

Citing evidence from around the world demonstrating that Voter ID makes it more difficult for people to vote, Liberal Democrat MPs are raising deep concerns that voter ID checks “will disproportionately impact ethnic minorities” at …

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10 August 2020 – today’s press release

Almost 1300 drivers still on roads despite receiving 12 points or more, Liberal Democrats reveal

The Liberal Democrats have today revealed that 1278 drivers with 12 points or more on their record are still behind the wheel and called for an examination of whether persistent offenders are being properly dealt with.

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Sarah Olney has warned Ministers that people’s safety is at risk and said, “it’s important that repeat offenders and dangerous drivers are kept off the roads.”

With a fall in car use because of the Government’s efforts to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic, the Liberal Democrats believe that …

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7-9 August 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Blocking pupil grade appeals could deny opportunities “for years to come”
  • Government should encourage universities to “exercise leniency” for 2020 admissions
  • Lack of test and trace leaving local authorities blind-folded with regional lockdowns
  • Government must provide practical and financial support ahead of schools opening fully

Blocking pupil grade appeals could deny opportunities “for years to come”

Responding to news that schools, but not individual pupils, will be able to challenge the GCSE and A Level grades awarded, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

This completely fails to get to grips with the issue. If individual pupils are not able to challenge grades which are an unfair reflection of their ability, it could seriously impact their education and employment opportunities for years to come.

It is absolutely unacceptable for any student to be unfairly penalised because of their family’s income or any other factor.

The Secretary of State needs to urgently put in place resources to ensure every child has the chance to appeal their grades and resit assessments when it is safe to do so.

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7 August 2020 – the overnight press release

Failure to sack Cummings shows PM’s “weakness and incompetence”

Responding to a new report from University College London showing that public confidence in the UK Government’s ability to handle the coronavirus pandemic dropped sharply following news about the travel movements of the Prime Minister’s Chief Adviser Dominic Cummings, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Millions of people across the UK have made heart-breaking sacrifices to comply with the lockdown and help keep others safe from coronavirus. They were rightly outraged when Boris Johnson’s Chief Adviser thought it was one rule for him and another rule for the rest

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6 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Welsh Government must extend shielding support to avoid cliff edge
  • Liberal Democrats: Ministers are playing fast and loose with safety of NHS staff
  • Liberal Democrats: Jenrick’s planning reform won’t solve housing crisis

Welsh Government must extend shielding support to avoid cliff edge

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent extension to the support for those currently shielding, warning people could become “cut off” when the support ends next Sunday.

Under Welsh Government plans, the support currently available to those shielding, including foodboxes, will end next Sunday when shielding is paused. Local Authorities will then assume responsibility for providing additional support upon request.

However, new figures published by Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales have revealed that 88% of those shielding are concerned about a return to work, with 12% so concerned that they have said they will refuse to go back – even if they lose their job as a result.

This creates a risky situation where thousands could face severe hardship by being cut off from existent support before they feel able to return to work and before Local Authorities can establish a proper functioning support network.

In response, Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged the Welsh Government to extend the support currently provided until the end of September, to avoid people being left isolated and give local authorities time to establish their own support schemes.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

I am deeply concerned that when the support for shielding ends next Sunday we will see thousands being cut off from the support they desperately need. Although some shielders are ready to go back out into the world, many still feel it is too unsafe and plan to stay home for longer.

While some of those are lucky to have a good local support network, many sadly do not. We must make sure these people are not be forced decide between unsafely returning to work or going without basic essentials.

That’s why we’re calling for the Welsh Government to extend the support currently available to those who are shielding until the end of September. This will provide a transition period, stopping them being cut off while also allowing Local Authorities time to talk to shielders and establish their own tailored support schemes.

I am grateful to Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales for raising this issue and hope the Welsh Government will act quickly on this. We must give shielders the reassurance they deserve.

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4 August 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government must act to strengthen NHS Test and Trace ahead of new school year
  • Liberal Democrats back calls for Magnitsky-style sanctions against Hong Kong human rights abusers

Government must act to strengthen NHS Test and Trace ahead of new school year

Responding to news that scientists have warned that current testing and contact tracing is inadequate to prevent a second wave of coronavirus when schools in the UK reopen, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

After months being cooped up at home, millions of children are looking forward to getting back to school in September, but safety must remain the top priority.

In the absence of a vaccine, a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system is the only way to keep people safe as we reopen schools. The Government must do everything in its power to strengthen that system if we are to have any hope of a safe start to the new school year.

Equally, the Government need to be honest about the very real risk that, if they do not get the NHS Test and Trace system in order, or in the event that we see a sharp rise in infections, children may have to go back to learning from home. Ministers must put in place safeguards now to ensure children are still able to get their education in this worst case scenario.

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3 August 2020 – today’s press release

BBC licence fee should be set by independent body, Liberal Democrats plan

The Liberal Democrats are to debate plans at their Autumn conference to ensure the BBC licence fee level is set independently next year after government cuts forced the BBC to end free TV licences for most over-75s.

Liberal Democrat Culture spokesperson Daisy Cooper, who will move the motion at the Party’s first digital conference, warned the Government must never again be allowed to “force the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between cuts to programming or raising these fees on the most vulnerable.”

The Party, which led a …

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3 August 2020 – the overnight press release

Liberal Democrats: Public health ignored in Government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme

Commenting on the Treasury’s “Eat Out to Help Out” discount scheme for restaurants starting on Monday, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

We all recognise the need to support the high street through the pandemic, but the Government should have been more discerning with this scheme.

Obesity is already an immense challenge for people and the NHS, but the latest research suggests it also contributes to the deadliness of coronavirus. With a number of fast-food chains signing up to the scheme, it seems clear that

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1-2 August 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: Government have deserted care homes entirely
  • Government’s planning reform shows they’re not serious about tackling housing crisis

Liberal Democrats: Government have deserted care homes entirely

Responding to the reports that the Government has abandoned their pledge to test all care home residents regularly throughout the summer, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The decision to drop the pledge to test all care home residents regularly would be a decision to desert care home residents entirely. The reports today, if true, are sadly just another example of a Government that is either woefully incompetent or one that simply

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31 July 2020 – the day’s press releases

  • Lockdown announcement shows Government still doesn’t have a grip on virus crisis
  • Davey: Johnson must do more to protect livelihoods in the north
  • Davey: Government must step up financial support in light of further lockdown
  • Government must legalise humanist marriages without further delay
  • Johnson and Cummings acting like despots with plans to restrict judicial review
  • PM’s decision to give his cronies peerages further bloats House of Lords

Lockdown announcement shows Government still doesn’t have a grip on virus crisis

Responding to the Government’s change in guidance stating that separate households will not be able to meet indoors from today in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Throughout this crisis, the Government’s communications have been an utter disaster. To announce a regional lockdown of millions of people not only just hours before it’s enforced, but with no clarity on the new rules coming into place, is beyond comprehension.

Considering their ability to tackle this pandemic relies on the clarity of messaging coming from the Government, it is unsurprising that just yesterday it was announced that England has had the highest excess mortality across Europe. If the Government want the British public to follow the rules they are announcing, then they must be clear, ahead of time, and they must have forewarned local authorities.

It remains unclear at what point Boris Johnson’s Government will finally manage to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis. Yet more mistakes reveal how necessary it is for an inquiry to be launched now – so that Ministers can learn the lessons ahead of a potential second wave.

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30 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Highest levels of excess deaths demands Government learn lessons
  • Liberal Democrats call for review into school exclusions
  • Liberal Democrats: Government are failing survivors of sexual violence
  • Government must step in with Green incentives to save the car industry
  • Liberal Democrats: Record high of self harm in prisons shows extent of crisis
  • Leaked letter shows thousands of care home residents being exposed to virus

Highest levels of excess deaths demands Government learn lessons

Responding to ONS statistics that reveal England has had the highest excess mortality across Europe in the first half of 2020, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The unforgiving consequences of the pandemic have left too many families mourning loved ones. It didn’t need to be like this.

It is clear the Government has made mistakes. With a possible second wave occurring in countries across Europe at the moment, the Prime Minister must launch an independent inquiry immediately.

This is not a time for protecting political interests. This is a time to learn from mistakes and protect the country from more heartache.

Liberal Democrats call for review into school exclusions

Responding to new figures for permanent and fixed-period school exclusions in England for 2018/19, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

These figures make appalling reading. Every year thousands of children – often the most vulnerable – are being written off by our education system. Children eligible for free school meals are more than four times as likely to be permanently excluded – that says it all.

This Government should be ashamed that they have presided over continually high rates of permanent exclusion. Cutbacks to school budgets undoubtedly play a part in this. So too does the culture which prizes exam results and league table rankings over care and support.

We need see action to address the disproportionate number of exclusions among pupils on free school meals, as well as Black Caribbean, Gypsy and Roma, and Traveller pupils. That’s why we need to see a review into disparities in school exclusions.

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30 July 2020 – the overnight press release

Liberal Democrats: Tories’ appeasement of anti-immigration lobby will cause chaos

Responding to a report from Migration Watch criticising the Government’s planned “points-based” immigration system, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

This shows how short-sighted it is for the Conservatives to focus all their attention on appeasing the anti-immigration lobby who will always want more.

Groups like Migration Watch are still not happy, even though the Government’s new immigration system will be incredibly damaging to the NHS, social care and small businesses across the UK by excluding people with a valuable contribution to make.

Six months is nowhere near enough time for either

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29 July 2020 – today’s press release

Government must act now on National Food Strategy recommendations

Responding to the National Food Strategy review suggesting that free school meals should be extended to every household receiving Universal Credit, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The Government must waste no time in acting on these recommendations. We know that giving school children a hot, healthy meal at lunchtime greatly improves their health, behaviour and results.

The Liberal Democrats are proud to have introduced free school meals in government and have long been calling for them to be extended to more pupils.

We need to invest in giving every child the

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29 July 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • PAC report on social care demands lessons are learned
  • Government continues to ignore bad deal economic warning
  • Government must do more to get young people into work

PAC report on social care demands lessons are learned

Commenting on a Public Accounts Committee report which condemns the “slow, inconsistent and at times negligent approach” to the social care sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, Liberal Democrat MP and member of the committee Sarah Olney said:

The coronavirus has left people worried about their future and mourning loved ones. While we have relied on frontline staff to protect us, the Government’s PPE shortages seriously let NHS and care workers down.

People deserve better. Ministers must read and act on this report before it is too late to prepare for a second wave. That means rapidly upscaling the strategy to test, trace and isolate every case of coronavirus to keep people safe and prevent new surges.

To improve public confidence, the Prime Minister must set out a timetable for the independent inquiry into the Government’s actions. With that, we can ensure the same mistakes never happen again.

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28 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Davey calls for PM to put Martin Forde QC in charge of a Coronavirus Inquiry
  • Davey: PM must take second wave risk seriously
  • Government gaps in support for freelancers leaving employers to pick up the tab
  • Government must apply same human rights standards to US when it comes to exports
  • Dodds: ‘Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a vital part of our post-Covid recovery’
  • Davey calls for PM to put Martin Forde QC in charge of a Coronavirus Inquiry

    Today Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has written to the Prime Minister with a plan for an immediate inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

    Ed has called on the Prime Minister to appoint Martin Forde QC as the chair of an independent coronavirus inquiry and to start work immediately. Martin Forde was the independent adviser on the design of the Government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme and is chair of the independent inquiry into Labour’s report on the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints.

    Ed also released proposed Terms of Reference for the independent inquiry agreed to by the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice.

    A spokesperson for the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice said:

    Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice are relieved that Ed Davey has seen the urgent need for a rapid inquiry.

    The Government’s own ‘Preparing for a challenging winter 20/21’ report (The Academy of Medical Sciences) predicts over 119,000 excess deaths this winter if urgent action is not taken now.

    That action has to be informed by this transparent inquiry. It’s time the Prime Minister put the well-being of the nation above politics.

    Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

    The Prime Minister confirmed to me weeks ago that there would be an independent inquiry, but we have seen no action from the Government since. Bereaved families I speak to are so disappointed that the Government is yet to begin an inquiry. They just don’t want any more families to go through what they have.

    The coronavirus threat remains very real. Were a second wave to happen during the winter, it could be even more deadly and damaging than the first. The Government must immediately start an inquiry so that we can learn from mistakes and properly plan for a second wave.

    This plan has been agreed by the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice. I hope Boris Johnson takes it seriously and sees it as an opportunity to get an inquiry going as soon as possible.

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Layla and Ed to meet with Compass

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of setpiece hustings – they tend to be a bit formulaic to my mind. And so, if you share that view, you might be interested to hear that Compass, who describe themselves as “a pressure group for the centre-left”, are holding an event on the Liberal Democrats’ leadership election with Ed and Layla (followed by a discussion with Jane Dodds and Jon Alexander) on 6 August, between 5.30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The event is titled “The Future of the Liberal Democrats and Progressive Politics” and is open to everyone.

Here’s the link

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How the Party is managed – can you be democratic and efficient?

As something of a governance geek, and a veteran Party bureaucrat, I tend to take an interest in how my Party is run and led. Policy is interesting yes, but you can tell a lot about any organisation by whether how it operates is in accordance with its declared values.

The “problem” with that is, if your values refer to democracy, transparency and accountability, you might not achieve optimal efficiency, if efficiency is defined as “getting things done”. It is a more pressing concern if you want to change things, and most, if not all, Party Presidents are elected on a mandate of changing things. The catch is that there are very few levers that a President can pull that actually do anything – they rely on people skills to persuade those who actually have operating authority to act as they wish them to.

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Forty-eight hours off Twitter for a good cause… #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate

Like many people, Liberal Democrat Voice will be maintaining a Twitter silence for forty-eight hours, starting at 9 a.m. this morning, to protest Twitter’s abject failure to address the issues surrounding anti-Jewish material posted seemingly without consequence.

We won’t be silent otherwise, so for the usual selection of news and opinion, do drop in from time to time, and we’ll aim to keep our readers engaged.

And, if you’re on Twitter, why not join us? The more participants, the more pressure on Twitter to act…

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24 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Drop in overseas visitors points to support need for tourism
  • Care sector is facing a new crisis as we emerge from lockdown – Davey
  • Scrap costly Police & Crime Commissioners
  • PM’s refusal to learn lessons shows why immediate inquiry is essential

Drop in overseas visitors points to support need for tourism

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron has called for more support to help the tourism sector as ONS statistics published today revealing there were 1.4 million visits to the UK by overseas visitors in March 2020, 54% fewer than in March 2019.

The Party has previously pushed for a review into the impact of coronavirus on the sector, to take into account options such as an extension of the furlough, grants and loans schemes until 2021.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

Countless businesses are facing serious financial hardship and many more are worried about job losses, particularly across the tourism sector.

With half the usual footfall from flights in March, which we know has been worse since, Ministers must see this as a reminder that the tourism industry must be given the tools it needs to recover.

That is why Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to extend furlough support until it is safe and create and enhance bespoke packages for sectors like hospitality, leisure and culture.

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23 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: Govt must stop posturing and secure a good deal
  • Liberal Democrats attempt to block renter evictions
  • Any review of our democracy must be truly independent, Liberal Democrats warn

Liberal Democrats: Govt must stop posturing and secure a good deal

Responding to Barnier’s comments that there has been no progress on key Brexit issues including fisheries and state aid, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

With just weeks to go and our country already facing the biggest economic crisis in generations, it is unthinkable that the UK would crash out of the transition period without a deal in place or with a bad

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23 July 2020 – the overnight press release

Lack of economic planning for a pandemic highlights Government failures

Responding to a Public Accounts Committee report published today that finds an “astonishing” failure on the part of the Government to prepare for the economic impact of a pandemic, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Everyone agrees that COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge, but the Government’s failure to ensure there was a contingency plan at the ready has left thousands of families with no help whatsoever, and thousands of businesses making redundancies or closing down.

Considering that pandemics are one of the key risks any Government plans for, if

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22 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed
  • All Hong Kongers must be given right to live in the UK
  • £2.9 billion aid cut shows Government abandoning world stage

Mental health and education gap of homeschooling must be addressed

Responding to ONS statistics published today on the impact of homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Coronavirus has clearly impacted every aspect of life, including the wellbeing of parents and children, and the quality of education the majority of children receive. We must ensure no one is left behind.

If it wasn’t for years of cuts to our schools and government failing to consult adequately with teachers and school leaders, it wouldn’t be this way. Ministers must now increase the necessary provision of laptops and introduce a Summer Learning Fund that supports the most disadvantaged children.

Moreover, the Government must address the mental health impact of the pandemic by signposting the appropriate support services to every household, and properly funding the charities that provide those services.

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21 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Pay rises without cash mean more cuts to schools and the police – Davey
  • Government must be clear higher debt won’t mean cuts to vital public services
  • Delyn MP must end ‘saga of scandals’
  • PM must announce a full investigation into potential Russian interference of our democracy
  • Braverman must apologise for endorsing Cummings

Pay rises without cash mean more cuts to schools and the police – Davey

Responding to reports that nearly 900,000 public sector workers will receive a pay rise out of existing departmental budgets, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

Accepting the independent review body’s pay recommendations was the very least the Chancellor could do. Yet, as overall budgets remain unchanged, the reality is our schools, police and wider public services will struggle to meet this award without significant cuts elsewhere in their budgets, including redundancies.

And utterly failing to recognise the outstanding effort of social care staff during the COVID-19 crisis is simply not acceptable. Councils and the wider care sector must be properly funded.

Since the early days of this pandemic, Liberal Democrats have been the first to argue for a better deal for NHS and care staff, yet Ministers seem to think that warm words and hand claps are sufficient. Boris Johnson should be ashamed for neglecting NHS and care staff again.

Government must be clear higher debt won’t mean cuts to vital public services

Responding to ONS statistics showing that Government borrowing for June was £35.5 billion – around five times more than the same month last year – Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

In an unprecedented economic challenge like the coronavirus pandemic people must come before the numbers. Any Chancellor should go beyond normal borrowing to help protect peoples’ health and livelihoods.

What the Government must now make clear is that, after Covid, higher debt will not and must not mean cuts to vital public services or less investment for our crumbling infrastructure – especially in the parts of the UK that need it most.

Liberal Democrats stand firm that we must grow our way out of this crisis with a Green Recovery Plan that will invest billions to transform our economy, fight climate change and create millions of good-quality jobs.

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21 July 2020 – the overnight press release

Liberal Democrats: Government must step up and tackle misinformation

Responding to the DCMS Select Committee Report ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’, Liberal Democrat DCMS spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

The pandemic has brought home how fundamental it is that we stamp out dangerous misinformation on social media, and how important it is that the public can trust information online. This report is clear that the Government must do more to tackle misinformation and the Liberal Democrats strongly support its calls for greater transparency.

To tackle the invisible algorithms that drive people to extreme content, platforms must not only have the ability to act

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20 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Test and trace privacy fiasco yet another blunder by Ministers
  • Government’s school funding plan shows no understanding of challenges facing schools
  • Government must set up lifeboat system to ensure safe passage for Hong Kongers
  • Government silencing those who get in the way of their own political interests
  • Tories’ plan to “take back control” proves to be empty words when it comes to trade

Test and trace privacy fiasco yet another blunder by Ministers

Responding to reports that privacy campaigners have accused the Government’s test and trace programme of breaking data protection laws, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The fact that the Government have potentially broken the law is just another example of Ministers’ disastrous handling of test and trace. For the Department of Health to admit there was no consideration on the impact this would have on our privacy shows that this Government is simply walking into blunder after blunder, failing to get a grip on this crisis.

Of course mass testing, contact tracing and isolation at the community level for those who test positive, is the only safe way out of lockdown, but protecting individuals’ privacy remains of the utmost importance.

The Liberal Democrats have been clear that as long as there is absolute transparency when it comes to what information is collected, how long it is stored for, and who has access to this data, the Government can mitigate the concerns people have.

Ministers must get a grip of test and trace system if they are to keep people safe from coronavirus. They must do everything they can to not only protect people’s data and keep the public’s trust, but ensure we get an effective app up and running as soon as possible.

Government’s school funding plan shows no understanding of challenges facing schools

Responding to the publication of the Government’s funding allocations for schools in 2021-22, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The Conservatives’ spending plans show no understanding of the challenges facing schools in September. They have asked schools to open as normal when our Test and Trace system is faulty. Teachers must try to reverse the harm to children’s learning, development and mental health, when many disadvantaged children have disappeared off schools’ radars entirely during lockdown.

In the face of this crisis, spending plans announced last year are utterly unfit for purpose. All the Government has added is a catch-up premium worth just £80 per pupil per year, and a tutoring fund. It’s simply not enough to pay for the small group teaching that Ministers say our children need.

The pandemic requires us to invest in education at all levels on an unprecedented scale. That’s why Liberal Democrats have launched a five-point plan to re-open schools safely, provide laptops to those who need them and close the disadvantage gap, so that we can give every child a great start in life.

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