Author Archives: Mark Valladares

I’m a veteran Party bureaucrat, having joined the old Liberal Party at university. And, perhaps not entirely surprisingly, I’ve held a range of positions since then - everything from Secretary-General of the Young Liberals to being a member of the ALDE Party‘s Financial Advisory Committee. Returning Officer, Presidential consort, committee secretary, you name it, I’ve probably done it. These days, I’m a parish councillor in a (very) small rural village in Suffolk’s Gipping Valley, and a member of the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee. Never let it be said that life is dull…

29 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Truss must cancel Conservative conference to deal with economic crisis
  • Revealed: 32 crumbling hospital buildings including in PM’s backyard
  • Truss in complete denial on BBC Local Radio round
  • Liz Truss refuses to guarantee people’s pensions are safe
  • Fracking interview: Truss shows contempt for rural communities

Davey: Truss must cancel Conservative conference to deal with economic crisis

Ed Davey demands Liz Truss and her ministers spend time fixing the budget as new research finds Government energy bill support will be wiped out by higher mortgage bills

Typical family faces £2,000 rise in mortgage bills following last week’s disastrous budget

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative party conference this weekend, and instead recall Parliament to vote to fix the disastrous mini-budget. The party is also calling on the Government to bring forward a rescue package for homeowners unable to pay higher mortgage bills as a result of last week’s budget.

Ahead of the energy price cap rising on Saturday (1st October), new analysis by the Liberal Democrats reveals the predicted rise in mortgage bills is more than double what the Government has offered to support households with their energy bills.

The Government has pledged to freeze energy prices at £2,500 for the average household, which would have equated to around £1,000 support for the average household.

However, the fallout from last week’s budget is predicted to force the Bank of England to raise interest rates to as much as 5% next year, costing the average mortgage borrower on a Standard Variable Rate a staggering £2,100 per year. Those on an average tracker mortgage would face an even higher annual increase of £3,000 per year if interest rates rise to the predicted 5% next year.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

There is no way the Conservative Party can hold their conference whilst the British economy nosedives. The arrogance of Liz Truss and Conservative Ministers is frankly an insult to millions who now face higher bills as a direct result of last week’s budget. From this weekend they will abandon their posts in Downing Street, leaving a mess behind them and heading for the cocktail parties and mutual back-patting of the classic conference season.

In one fell swoop, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng crashed the economy, trashed the pound and paved the way for record interest rate rises.

Innocent mortgage borrowers will be left to pick up the bill of this gross incompetence. It is time Parliament is recalled and new measures passed to save families and pensioners unable to cope with this mortgage crisis. This botched budget cannot survive any longer.

Revealed: 32 crumbling hospital buildings including in PM’s backyard

  • Dangerous roofs not set to be replaced until 2035, Freedom of Information request reveals.
  • Hospitals in the Prime Minister’s and Health Secretary’s local areas have roofs at risk of collapse.
  • Liberal Democrats call on Government to fix the budget to save NHS from real-terms cuts amid rising inflation

32 hospital buildings across the country are fitted with dangerous roofs at risk of sudden collapse, data uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The Freedom of Information request has revealed that 32 buildings at 19 NHS Trusts are fitted with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) which is said to be ‘structurally weaker’, ‘lightweight’ and ‘cheaper’ than a regular fitting. NHS England has also revealed that the dangerous roofs are not set to be fully replaced until 2035.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, near Liz Truss’s constituency, is the worst in the country with four buildings fitted with the dangerous material. The chief executive of the hospital has previously likened the material to a “chocolate Aero bar” with bubbles that could break and collapse at any point. Liz Truss this morning refused to guarantee that the hospital would be fixed in an interview with BBC Norfolk, adding that she couldn’t make any promises on the Health Secretary’s behalf.

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26 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Falling pound: Recall Parliament to fix failed Budget
  • Kwarteng must resign if pound reaches parity with dollar

Falling pound: Recall Parliament to fix failed Budget

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to urgently recall Parliament, so the Chancellor can fix his disastrous and out of touch Budget which has sent the pound plummeting.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Last week the Chancellor announced a shambolic budget that gave huge unfunded tax cuts to big banks and the wealthiest while leaving struggling families and pensioners in the cold. As a result we are seeing the pound plummet into free fall

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Welcome to my day: 26 September 2022 – a bad time to be poor, or vulnerable, or…

High inflation, rising interest rates and a mad scientist approach to economic management do not tend to instil confidence, as the markets indicated on Friday, following Kwasi Kwarteng’s “this is not a budget” statement. The hedge fund guys have already made hay – they obviously had a pretty good idea what was coming – and now the rest of us can find out what is in store.

There is little doubt that there is much that needs to be done in order to build a thriving future for the United Kingdom. From how our country is governed, to the supply of housing or provision of energy, and onto protecting our environment, many tough decisions will need to be taken. And, from a “customer perspective”, some patience is needed too. You can’t turn round the NHS overnight, just as infrastructure projects, especially big, strategic ones, don’t happen just because someone announces the intention no about it.

But the first thing you need is government that can think strategically, and not just about securing its own future in office. The outgoing administration seemed solely focussed on this week’s headline, making it to next weekend without imploding. But you would have to admit that this one does seem to have a strategy, even if it seems hard to credit it.

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25 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Families facing £290 tax hike next year despite 1p cut, new analysis reveals
  • Kwarteng’s budget “staggeringly out of touch”
  • Mark Fullbrook saga: We need an urgent investigation into conflicts of interest

Families facing £290 tax hike next year despite 1p cut, new analysis reveals

A typical family will see their taxes hiked by £290 next year despite the 1p tax cut, new research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed, while top bankers are handed a tax giveaway of over £100,000.

It comes as analysis shows the total tax hit from the Conservative government’s freeze on income tax thresholds is now set to reach £32.4 billion over the next two years – £6.5 billion more than previously expected. The figures are based on an update of the OBR’s previous forecasts undertaken by the House of Commons Library, taking into account soaring inflation.

Liberal Democrat research shows a household with two adults paid the median salary of £31,876 will pay an additional £290 in income tax next year as a result of the freeze, despite the basic rate being reduced from 20% to 19%. This tax bill will rise to £590 by 2024-25, due to the tax threshold remaining frozen as inflation goes even higher.

A teacher on a starting salary of £25,700 will see their taxes rise by £121 next year (2023/24), once the freeze of the income tax threshold is taken into account, while an NHS nurse will see a £107 rise.

Meanwhile, a top banker earning £2.5 million will see a tax cut of over £117,000. It means the Conservative government’s tax giveaway to one top-earning banker would be enough to cancel the tax hike for over 1,000 nurses.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

It is staggeringly unfair that this Conservative government is hiking taxes on struggling families while giving big businesses and banks a massive tax giveaway.

Cutting taxes for the most wealthy while hammering ordinary people with years of stealth taxes shows just how out of touch this government has become.

The facts are clear: Liz Truss and the Conservatives are only cutting taxes for the few, while millions of people will pay more.

Kwarteng’s budget “staggeringly out of touch”

Responding to Kwasi Kwarteng’s performance on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Kwasi Kwarteng and this Conservative Government are staggeringly out of touch. He showed in his budget that banks and billionaires come first, while families and pensioners come last.

This Government has shown its true colours, making regular people pay in the long run for their economic vandalism. Now, they must cancel recess and allow Parliament to have a say on these shambolic plans.

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23 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Fiscal statement: Not a plan but “a recipe for disaster”
  • A Budget for the Mega Rich at the Expense of Ordinary Citizens
  • Debt dossier: Five times Truss and Kwarteng warned unsustainable borrowing could cripple the economy
  • Ed Davey: “Billionaires’ budget” shows Chancellor doesn’t have a clue

Fiscal statement: Not a plan but “a recipe for disaster”

Responding to the Chancellor’s fiscal statement today, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

This statement was an admission of failure from a Conservative government that is totally out of touch with the British people. It is not a plan, but a recipe for disaster that will leave families suffering from soaring prices while banks and oil and gas companies rake in huge profits.

Instead of a real plan to grow the economy, the Conservatives are reheating the same old failed policies and lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses.

Handing billions of pounds of tax cuts to banks and multinational companies will do nothing to help people get a GP appointment when they need it, give our children a better education; and make our streets safer.

It’s clear that Kwasi Kwarteng and the Conservatives are taking the British people for granted and have no plan to deal with soaring energy bills, sky-high petrol prices and rising food costs.

A Budget for the Mega Rich at the Expense of Ordinary Citizens

Responding to the Conservatives’ mini budget, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS has labelled the plans announced as “a hideously out-of-touch’ budget designed to benefit the mega rich at the expense of ordinary citizens”.

Commenting Jane Dodds MS said:

What we have seen today is gross negligence. The Conservatives are intent on a budget that robs the poor to pay for the mega rich.

Someone on £200,000 a year will benefit by an extra £3,000 a year meanwhile those on the breadline will continue to struggle. It is almost criminal and completely detached from reality.

Cuts to cooperation tax, the removal of the bankers’ bonus cap and the abolishing of the top band of income tax for those earning over £150,000 will do absolutely nothing to help the average family this winter.

The Conservatives are reheating the same policies they’ve tried for the last 7 years that haven’t worked and have instead left the UK with stagnant growth, widening inequality and one of the lowest productivity rates in Europe.

This is the most financially irresponsible budget I have ever seen laid out and it will inevitably lead to either cuts in public services or more debt for our children and grandchildren through increased borrowing.

We need a general election immediately to remove this irresponsible and reckless Conservative Government out of power.

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22 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Fracking: Rural areas treated like guinea pigs
  • Interest rates: Homeowners being punished by Government failure to control inflation
  • Recession: Blame lies with Conservative MPs
  • NHS announcement an ‘A, B, C of failure’
  • Lib Dems table motion to cancel Parliament recess and scrutinise mini Budget
  • Kwarteng growth plan: Shocking admission of Conservative failure

Fracking: Rural areas treated like guinea pigs

Responding to the British Geological Survey’s Report on fracking, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

The government’s own experts have refused to say fracking is safe. That they choose to plough on regardless shows a callous disregard for our communities and countryside. From Surrey to Somerset, the government are treating people in rural areas like guinea pigs.

The Conservatives obsession with fracking lays bare that they don’t actually think that Climate change is happening and are not willing to take the urgent action needed. They are delaying climate action at every corner. The mask has finally slipped and is revealing Liz Truss and Jacob Reece Mogg as climate change deniers. It is bizarre that this has become their priority, rather than renewables: the cheapest and most popular form of energy.

If people suffer polluted water and dangerous earthquakes, this decision will prove unforgivable.

Interest rates: Homeowners being punished by Government failure to control inflation

Responding to the Bank of England raising interest rates by 0.5%, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This a hammer blow to struggling homeowners who are being punished by the Government’s failure to control inflation. This monster rate rise could have been avoided if Conservative Ministers bothered to take action sooner on energy bills and the rising cost of living. Instead, the Bank of England is left with no choice but to hike mortgage costs for millions.

It is first time buyers I fear for the most, who have scrimped and saved for their first house. Tomorrow Liz Truss has to clean up the mess made by this Conservative Government and bailout families and pensioners who will suffer as a result of this mortgage hike. This should start with re-installing an Emergency Mortgage Support Fund which was cruelly scrapped by Conservative Ministers.

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21 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Business energy bills announcement: a temporary sticking plaster
  • IFS debt analysis: Taxpayers footing the bill for Truss’s ideological obsessions
  • Conservatives handing banks a £6 billion tax cut, new research reveals
  • Calls for an Investigation into Failed Welsh Government Insulation Schemes
  • Demands Welsh Government ‘Names and Shame’ Property Developers Failing to Act on the Building Safety Scandal
  • Dental Crisis: Only 34% of Patients in Southwark Have Been Seen by an NHS Dentist in Past Two Years

Business energy bills announcement: a temporary sticking plaster

Responding to the government announcement on bills for businesses and the public sector, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP said:

This temporary sticking plaster comes too late for the many small businesses that already closed their doors for the last time because they couldn’t afford soaring bills.

The Conservatives have sat on their hands for months while treasured pubs, cafes and high street shops went to the wall.

This delayed announcement will leave our small businesses, schools and hospitals under a cloud of damaging uncertainty. The government have no plan beyond these next six months, paralysing businesses who need to make decisions for the long term. Support for high streets and public services should be in place for at least the next year and include measures to improve energy efficiency and cut bills in the long term.

The announcement shows the Conservatives have no plan and no understanding of the pressures facing our businesses and public services.

IFS debt analysis: Taxpayers footing the bill for Truss’s ideological obsessions

Responding to IFS analysis which shows debt is being left on an unsustainable path by the government, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

Liz Truss is asking hard-pressed taxpayers to fund her ideological obsessions in the middle of the biggest cost of living crisis in a generation. This is no way to govern Britain.

The Conservatives are prioritising record oil company profits and bankers’ bonuses whilst families struggle to pay their own heating bills.

This Government has lost all sense of fiscal responsibility. Future generations will be paying off the Conservatives’ debt for years to come with no guarantee of economic growth.

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Welcome to my day: 12 September 2022 – a time to reflect…

In my professional life, I have been expected to answer incoming calls with “Her Majesty’s…” and, for most of my thirty-six years of service, that’s what I’ve done, with a degree of pride, both in my organisation but also a reflection of the fact that I serve the monarch, albeit through her government. It is slightly odd to realise that I’m going to have to change that.

But change, I guess, is inevitable. And, whilst intellectually it was obvious that the Queen would eventually die, there was that curious sense that she wouldn’t because, what it would be like without her? …

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7 September 2022 – today’s (other) press release

Rural families in fuel poverty risk becoming “forgotten victims” as they face £450 bigger hit from energy price rise

Families living in fuel poverty in rural areas are set to be left £450 poorer than urban ones by October’s energy price rise, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The analysis by the House of Commons Library shows that the average “fuel poverty gap,” the additional income that would be needed to bring a household to the point of not being fuel poor, is set to rise to a staggering £1,050 in rural areas in October. This compares to a projected fuel poverty gap of £600 in urban areas. It means fuel poor homes in rural areas will need around twice as much support to bring them out of fuel poverty than those in urban areas.

Meanwhile, rural households with the poorest insulation rating (energy efficiency rating of F or G) are expected to see a shocking average fuel poverty gap of £3,350.

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6 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Make energy bosses pay for freezing of bills, not our children
  • Truss Speech: Only way to end crisis is to get the Conservatives out of power
  • Chope appointment to Partygate inquiry – government backs down

Davey: Make energy bosses pay for freezing of bills, not our children

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has warned that Liz Truss’ plan to make taxpayers pay for the freezing of energy bills would “make our children pick up the tab”, while letting the oil and gas companies raking in record profits off the hook.

It comes as the Liberal Democrat Leader introduces legislation in Parliament today to bring in a tougher windfall tax on companies like BP and Shell that are raking in huge profits, to fund the freezing of energy bills.

The proposed Liberal Democrat Bill would prohibit Ofgem from increasing the energy price cap above its current level in October, funded by extending and backdating the windfall tax. It also calls for small businesses to be supported with their bills, paid for by reversing Conservative tax breaks for banks.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Liz Truss spent weeks during this summer leadership contest leaving families and pensioners worried and in limbo by refusing to set out her plans to tackle soaring energy bills. Now she seems set to make our children pick up the tab for this mess, while letting oil and gas firms making record profits off the hook.

It shows Liz Truss and the Conservatives are completely out of touch with the British people.

The Liberal Democrats have today tabled legislation to protect people and businesses from sky-high heating bills this winter. This would be paid for by a tougher windfall tax on oil and gas companies and the scrapping of Conservative tax cuts for big banks.

That would be a much fairer and more responsible way to tackle rising energy bills than even more borrowing for taxpayers to pay back in the future.

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5 September 2022 – today’s other press releases

  • Truss must block Chris Chope from joining partygate inquiry
  • Action needed now to address cladding concerns

Truss must block Chris Chope from joining Partygate inquiry

The Liberal Democrats have called on Liz Truss to block Conservative MP Christopher Chope from being appointed to the privileges committee leading the Partygate inquiry, after reports he is being nominated by Boris Johnson’s government.

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who brought in the Private Members’ Bill to ban upskirting which Chris Chope initially blocked, said:

Chris Chope’s lack of respect for MPs trying to protect women from upskirting shows the contempt he has for Parliament. There is

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It’s Truss, but without as much support as she might have expected…

So, the former Liberal Democrat beats the former Chancellor to be the new Leader of the Conservative Party and, thus, Prime Minister. But it was rather closer than had been previously suggested, with only 57% of those Conservative Party members who voted backing her. And, given the polling data which suggests that members would rather have kept her predecessor than either of the choices put before them, she might have hoped for a better mandate.

Ed Davey had an immediate demand for Liz Truss;

Under Liz Truss, we’re set to see more of the same as under Boris Johnson. From the cost of living emergency to the NHS crisis, the Conservatives have shown they don’t care, have no plan and have failed our country.

The Government needs to scrap October’s energy price rise to avoid a social catastrophe for families and pensioners this winter.

Then we need a General Election, to get the Conservatives out of power and deliver the real change the country needs.

Jane Dodds and the Welsh Liberal Democrats were quick to respond too;

Under Liz Truss we are set to see more of the chaos that we saw under Boris Johnson. From failing to deal with the cost-of-living emergency, to letting small and medium businesses face the winter alone, to failing to deal with the climate crisis, the Conservatives have shown they don’t care, have no plan and have failed our country.

The Conservatives may have changed leader, but after twelve years in power at Westminster the Conservatives have shown they are out of ideas, out of energy and out of touch.

First the government needs to urgently scrap October’s energy price rise to avoid a social catastrophe for families and pensioners this winter. Then we need a general election, to get the Conservatives out of power and deliver the real change Wales needs.

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Welcome to my day: 5 September 2022 – catching up with the paperwork…

For those of you amongst our readers who don’t know, I’m a Parish councillor in my small, but perfectly formed, village in Suffolk’s Gipping Valley. For a variety of reasons, we’ve recently laboured without either a Chair or a Parish Clerk, and I am reminded how fragile our democracy is. You see, democracy requires not only politicians but administrators and these are increasingly in short supply.

Politicians, as a species, are seldom popular, but the hostility shown to the more high profile ones puts off potential candidates at our tier too, and we need 100,000 councillors at the first tier in England alone. Many Town and Parish Councils are, effectively, democracy-free zones, without contested elections and with vacancies often filled by poorly publicised co-options. That lack of competition risks poor, unchallenged governance and thus poor representation at a level of government that spends over £1 billion per annum.

So, if you live in an area with a Town or Parish Council, do think about putting your name forward in next May’s elections.

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Welcome to my day: 29 August 2022 – aren’t politicians people too?

As my colleague noted yesterday, Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland, has been in the news for having the audacity to be (relatively) young, and dance at parties. Alcohol may even have been partaken of!

And I find myself wondering, since when did we start insisting that rather dull people represent us and why? Whilst expecting relatively high moral and ethical standards does seem reasonable, politicians are human and should be able to express themselves and, heaven forbid, let their hair down from time to time.

I thought that Tim Farron who, despite his frankly bizarre fondness for Blackburn Rovers, is as real a person as you could hope to find, put it well when asked for comment by the Guardian;

Social media is a mixed bag. I think it does change things but we have to accept our politicians are human beings – we should expect high standards in terms of integrity, but that doesn’t preclude you from having a couple of beers with your mates and dancing like nobody’s watching. I‘m an Olympic-standard dad dancer and I’m glad there are no pictures of me.

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26 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Davey – price rise “nothing short of catastrophe for millions”
  • Sewage: New Govt plan is a cruel joke and will result in 325,000 sewage dumps a year by 2030

Davey – price rise “nothing short of catastrophe for millions”

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey responds to price cap announcement:

This energy price rise is nothing short of a catastrophe for millions of families and pensioners already struggling to make ends meet.

The only option is for energy prices to be frozen before these rises wreak havoc on our communities. Then we need a proper plan to be put in place to bring bills down

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25 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • GCSEs: Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down pupils
  • Missing: UK’s Foreign Secretary. Last seen leaving G20 early
  • Dentist crisis escalates as new data reveals drop in NHS dental appointments

GCSEs: Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down pupils

Responding to today’s GCSE results, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

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

Young people receiving their results today faced unprecedented disruption to their studies. The Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down these pupils, their parents and their teachers since day one of the pandemic.

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 them gone.

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Verily, welcome to my day: 22 August 2022 – “with much ado at length have gotten leave”*

Language evolves, as any fule kno

It’s funny how often, if someone doesn’t like an argument, or if the subject matter is too complex for them to understand, they revert to petty kibitzing in order to “put down” the holder of a view they can’t easily refute. As Statler and Waldorf so eruditely put it;

One assumes that, in the absence of an argument, the establishment figures work on the basis that, if you make life uncomfortable for others wishing to penetrate your safe spaces, especially those perceived to be outsiders, they’ll give up and leave you alone to carry on as you always have. But, for liberals, that generally runs contrary to our ethos. We welcome challenge, so long as it is moderately respectful. That said, perhaps we should extend ourselves beyond our comfort zone so as to encourage the broader base of support we always claim to want.

I may talk about that in a piece later today though, so perhaps I ought to move on.

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Farron & Foord: Water executives get bonuses despite sewerage scandal

In a press release that is receiving widespread coverage in this morning’s media, Tim Farron and Richard Foord attacked the huge bonuses received by water bosses while sewerage pours into our rivers and seas.

  • Average water company executive pay and bonuses rose by a fifth compared to last year despite 2.7 million hours of sewage being pumped into rivers and swimming spots
  • Average water company executives paid themselves £100,000 more in bonuses alone. Their average annual bonus now stands at over £600,000
  • New Lib Dem figures revealed as hosepipe ban is announced for Thames Water who lose a quarter of all their water due due to leaking pipes going unfixed.

In the week that sewage flowed into Britain’s treasured seaside swimming spots, new analysis of water companies’ Annual Reports by the Liberal Democrats has found that executive pay packets have spiralled out of control.

Next week, millions of Thames Water customers will also suffer from a hosepipe ban despite the company leaking a quarter of all its water from leaking pipes. The firm failed to invest in fixing the leaks, but found over £3 million to pay their execs, an increase on last year’s executive payout.

Combined bonuses and salaries pay packets per water company executive rose by a fifth (21%) from 2020/2021 to 2021/2022. This is a year-on-year average rise per executive of nearly £200,000.

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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.

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16 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Pay squeeze: Families are being hammered by a cost of living catastrophe
  • Lib Dems: As the country floods, water companies are pumping out untold amounts of sewage

Pay squeeze: Families are being hammered by a cost of living catastrophe

Responding to the latest monthly wage figures which show real-term wages falling by 3%, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Families are being hammered by a cost of living catastrophe and yet the Government is nowhere to be found.

This Zombie Government has no plan and is failing our country. People can’t wait any longer for the Conservatives to play out their

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15 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • 34 hospital buildings revealed to have dangerous roofs at risk of collapsing
  • Lib Dems call for “double bill freeze” this winter to save families £2,000

34 hospital buildings revealed to have dangerous roofs at risk of collapsing

  • The poor quality roofs described as “chocolate aero bars” by fearful hospital bosses
  • NHS chiefs are emergency planning for the roofs to collapse at 16 different hospitals
  • One of the hospitals affected is in Liz Truss’s Norfolk constituency

A new Parliamentary Question tabled by the Liberal Democrats has revealed 34 hospital buildings across 16 different NHS trusts are fitted with roofs which NHS chiefs have warned could collapse at any moment. Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey is demanding the Government action plan for emergency upgrades to the hospitals as patients and staff safety are put at risk.

The government revealed that 34 buildings at 16 NHS trust have been identified as being fitted with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) which is said to be ‘structurally weaker’, ‘lightweight’ and ‘cheaper’ than a regular fitting.

NHS chief executive of Queen Elizabeth in King’s Lynn, Caroline Shaw, likened the material to a “chocolate Aero bar” with bubbles that could break and collapse at any point. It has been reported that some of the roofs are even being held up by steel props due to their structural weakness. This hospital is in Liz Truss’s constituency in Norfolk.

Hinchingbrooke in Cambridge, also impacted by these dangerous roof fittings, last year banned patients weighing more than 19 stone from having surgery in two of its operating theatres in case it put too much strain on the floor.

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Welcome to my day: 15 August 2022 – in Tufton Street we Trus(s)t?

The contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party and, thus, Prime Minister, took more turns for the worse this week. Whilst Rishi Sunak desperately tries to convince ageing members of his party that he can be as reactionary as the next (wo)man, Liz Truss is demonstrating that, at heart, she has the instincts of a robotic magpie programmed by the denizens of Tufton Street.

Having suggested last week that most of the Civil Service should be sacked and the rest moved out of London, whilst the rest of the public sector should expect pay cuts, it didn’t get any better this week. First, she suggested that support payments to help those facing fuel poverty were a low priority compared to tax cuts. It seemed that she had been misrepresented (again). And then, the Civil Service was described as “woke verging on anti-Semitic” – she really doesn’t like them, does she?

I look forward to her relationship with the Civil Service going forward…

Mind you, given that there’s very little evidence that we have a functioning government anyway, the idea that whichever one of them wins might do something (anything) might be progress of a sort. Of course, their first task will be to appoint a new Cabinet and ministers, which won’t be easy. And time is relentlessly pushing on, with the energy cap increase to be announced in just eleven days and due to come into effect on 1 October.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 22 Comments

14 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Government set to recover just a third of the £1 billion it pledged to claw back from Covid fraudsters
  • IPPR Analysis: Energy bills threaten to plunge millions into poverty this winter

Government set to recover just a third of the £1 billion it pledged to claw back from Covid fraudsters

  • The Government promised to recover £1bn between April 2021 and April 2023, but with just £226 million collected in 2021-22 it is all but certain to break its pledge.
  • Fraudsters are now on track to get away with £8 of every £10 they stole with £3.7bn of taxpayers’ money written off.
  • Liberal Democrats call on Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to appoint a new fraud minister on day one to track down stolen taxpayers’ cash

The Government’s Covid fraud taskforce is on track to recover just a third of the £1 billion it pledged to claw back from fraudsters, new analysis of HMRC figures have revealed.

In 2021 Ministers set up the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce with the aim of recovering £1 billion of stolen funds related to its Covid support by the end of 2022-23. But new figures published by HMRC show the Government is lagging far behind this target.

They show the taskforce has recovered just £226 million so far in 2021-22, plus a mere £9 million in the first month of 2022-23. If it continues at this sluggish pace, the taskforce would bring back just £335 million by April 2023 – missing its target by two thirds, and allowing fraudsters to get away with another £665 million of stolen taxpayers’ money.

It means Covid scheme fraud is currently set to land taxpayers with a total £3.7 billion, with fraudsters keeping £8 of every £10 they stole. That money could fund the increase of nearly 2.3 million families’ energy bills as prices are set to rise again this October.

Posted in News and Press releases | Tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

Welcome to my day: 8 August 2022 – adding social value…

Is Rishi Sunak really suggesting that it’s acceptable to be poorly paid if you’re adding social value? That does appear to be the case if you take his proposal to

take a tougher approach to university degrees that saddle students with debt, without improving their earning potential

So, presumably, a degree in nursing, which the market suggests is underpaid, would be acceptable to Mr Sunak.

The problem is that, whilst in the private sector, the market requires businesses to compete with each other for staff, the public sector is distorted by government decisions to “set an example”. Thus, increasingly, there are areas of state activity where the rate for the job isn’t high enough to attract and retain the sort of people you want running your services.

And, with Liz Truss either lying about her intentions for public sector pay or being too lazy to read past the headlines of her proposals, it’s clear that there’ll be no effective solutions for public sector employment coming from the Conservative Party anytime soon.

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Welcome to my day: 1 August 2022 – no more gallant losers…

Greetings from Maine, where your Day Editor is recovering from the excitement of watching an England football team actually go all the way. Congratulations to the Lionesses, who’ve brought a bit of joy into our lives at a time when joy isn’t available in abundance. Made us sweat a little though…

Meanwhile, the other big final grinds on, with Rishi Sunak making ever more unlikely promises and Liz Truss attracting key supporters. You’d think that it looks increasingly good for the latter but there’s always the question of whose team is better organised and able to reach ordinary Conservative members more effectively. But given that key media appear to have opted for Truss, I’d expect a few “knocking stories” against Sunak to appear this week, just in time for ballots to hit doorsteps.

I know that at least one reader has wondered why we’ve spent some time looking back to Liz Truss’s Liberal Democrat past. From my perspective, it’s because it offers a glimpse into her backstory and, in some cases, because it’s rather funny. And Liberal Democrats don’t always do dull respectfulness – authority figures are there to be challenged through humour and satire.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Welcome to my day: 18 July 2022 – live from my own isolation…

I guess that I was never going to evade COVID indefinitely, and thus Liberal Democrat Voice is brought to you from Day 4 of my home isolation. Luckily, I seem, so far, to have gotten off pretty lightly, and I can isolate in our home office, which has its compensations.

The past week has been a descent into fantasy politics, as five Conservative MPs vie to cut taxes, increase spending, level up and crack down, all at the same time. At least Nadhim Zahawi’s notion of cutting 20% of the headcount in all Government departments has bitten the dust, allowing him to spend time with his accountants. Given what is being suggested, he might need quite a lot of time with them…

But what is clear is that, between the five candidates that remain, there is little clue as to how government works, or how things interrelate. In the modern world, decision-making is made complex by international agreements, interaction between pieces of legislation and trade arrangements. And you can’t just go around abolishing statute without consequences. It’s not as though that message hasn’t been relayed to them. Previous attempts to “cut red tape” have faltered when it is discovered that the regulations were put in place for a good reason – customer protection, access to major trading markets, that sort of thing. So, you can cut the regulation on cooked meats, for example, but the producers may then find they can’t sell it into their major export markets. Effectively, they are bound by the regulations of their export markets.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Welcome to my day: 11 July 2022 – a Tory House of Horrors beckons?

And, just like that, the world changed. Not, I hasten to note, necessarily for the better, especially given the theatre of the grotesque that is the Conservative leadership contest.

But the level of vitriol with which the various contenders seem determined to vent upon each other can only be helpful to Liberal Democrat candidates in the short term, even as it damages the country still further. And all the popcorn in the world doesn’t compensate for the damage that will be done to those already struggling to get by if government spending is squeezed in order to allow tax cuts for business and the wealthy.

Of course, whoever does finally emerge as the anointed one will be inheriting a rather gruesome legacy after three years of chaos in Number 10. Inflation approaching double figures, growth non-existent, debt servicing costs increasing, and no signs of an answer to the long-term problems facing the country, unless being unpleasant towards the trans community is meant to take our minds off of it all. Perhaps the move towards tax cuts and culture wars is just a pretence intended to win the contest, but I doubt it – these people think that this is a vote-winning strategy beyond that somewhat unrepresentative Party membership.

Posted in News | 10 Comments

Sunak and Javid resign – is this the end for De Pfeffel?

Ernest Hemingway wrote of bankruptcies that they happened gradually, then suddenly. It seems, this evening, that this is also true of moral bankruptcy, as the Chancellor and Health Secretary have handed in their resignations.

And with backbench Conservative MPs actively calling upon the Cabinet to act, is this the moment when Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson finally meets his political maker?

It’s not before time, as senior Conservative figures are forced to confront the realisation that they have been complicit in enabling this debasement of our political culture to carry as long as it has. Frankly, how many of the current Cabinet …

Posted in News | Tagged | 7 Comments

Welcome to my day: 4 July 2022 – Boris takes it sleazy…

Good morning, gentle readers, as another lively week begins, albeit curiously similar to many recently. A Government mired in sleaze, now reduced to being teased by the Chinese diplomatic corps, caught between multiple political rocks.

You can entirely understand why the Prime Minister would have initially backed his mate when accusations of sexual misconduct emerged. After all, when your own personal record is so poor, you’re hardly in a position to take the moral high ground. But the notion that the Deputy Chief Whip of the governing party requires a minder to keep them out of trouble does make you wonder what sort of behaviour is sufficient to set you beyond the pale.

Posted in News | 11 Comments

1 July 2022 – today’s press releases

  • VAT cut: Ministers need to stop dithering and act now
  • Suspending Chris Pincher should never have taken this long
  • Concern Over Cardiff Council Plans to Tackle Begging
  • Southwark Liberal Democrats Demand More Ambition in Plans to Tackle Air Pollution

VAT cut: Ministers need to stop dithering and act now

Responding to reports the government is considering cutting VAT, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Families across the UK are facing a cost-of-living emergency. Ministers need to stop dithering and act now.

Liberal Democrats have been calling for an emergency VAT cut for months. It was a key part of our successful by-election campaign in Tiverton and Honiton. Families need it, businesses need it, and voters clearly support it. So why haven’t Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak done it already?

The sad truth is that we have a Government has no plan and a Prime Minister too busy fighting with his own party to help the British people.

Suspending Chris Pincher should never have taken this long

Responding to the news Chris Pincher has had the Conservative whip suspended, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

It should never have taken Boris Johnson this long to act and withdraw the whip.

Once again it seems Johnson has had to be forced into doing the right thing

There can be no more cover ups or excuses. If this investigation confirms these serious allegations, Chris Pincher will surely have to resign.

The Liberal Democrat Voice team have recently started to receive more press releases from Council Groups around the country, perhaps a sign of greater confidence and ambition, and we’ll try to publish some of them going forward…

Posted in Local government, News and Press releases | Tagged , , , , , , and | 14 Comments
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