Tag Archives: cost of living crisis

18 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Squeezed middled pushed to the brink by Conservative’s Cost of Chaos budget
  • IFS analysis: Conservative ministers are economic vandals

Squeezed middled pushed to the brink by Conservative’s Cost of Chaos budget

In response to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s morning round following yesterday’s Autumn Statement, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

Struggling families who have worked hard for years have had their security stolen by this Conservative Government. While non-doms and big banks got off lightly, the already squeezed middle are being pushed to the brink.

Those working day-in, day-out are having to choose between food or heating, mortgage payments or fuel for

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17 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Wales Ambulance Waiting Times – Emergency Lights Should be Flashing for Labour
  • Budget: Everyone being forced to pay the price for Conservative chaos
  • Cancer Treatment Waiting Times Intolerable
  • Conservative giveaway to big banks set to cost taxpayers £18 billion
  • 5 Hidden Horrors in the Autumn Statement

Wales Ambulance Waiting Times – Emergency Lights Should be Flashing for Labour

Responding to the news that Welsh ambulance response times have hit their slowest on record ever for red calls Jane Dodds MS said:

When someone is in a moment of crisis and chooses to call 999, they want to know that there will be someone at the other

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16 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Inflation stats: Families struggling to get by because of Government’s inaction and incompetence
  • Raab: Ethics advisor must be appointed to stop a whitewash report
  • Raab investigation: “another Conservative stitch up”

Inflation stats: Families struggling to get by because of Government’s inaction and incompetence

Responding to the latest ONS figures showing inflation has reached 11.1%, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

This Government’s biggest economic failure has been their disastrous attempts to get inflation down. Families are now struggling to get by because of this Government’s inaction and incompetence on spiraling prices.

After inflicting so much chaos, the latest Conservative Chancellor is now expecting the public to clean up their mess with grossly unfair tax rises. Our crumbling hospitals and run down classrooms are on the brink of savage cuts all because the Conservative party crashed the economy to fund tax cuts for the richest companies. The country will never forgive them for this.

This week Jeremy Hunt should target the oil firms and banks making bumper profits to fill the blackhole in Britain’s finances, rather than inflicting more pain and misery on struggling households.

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11 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Statement for Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday
  • GDP stats: People will never forgive this Government for crashing our economy during a cost-of-living crisis
  • Conservative stealth cuts leave up to 110,000 children without a free lunch
  • Dominic Raab behaviour: Cabinet Office must investigate immediately

Welsh Liberal Democrats Statement for Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

Today and on Sunday we pay tribute to all who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country during its darkest hours.

Their sacrifice has allowed us to live in a society based on both freedom and liberty.

Today we think of not only the lives that were lost, but of the wish of survivors of both World Wars that we should strive to build a world free of war and violence.

This year as we remember those who fought for freedom and liberty during previous conflicts, many of us will also be thinking of the brave men and women of Ukraine, who are at this very moment standing in face of tyranny with winter approaching.

We remain ever thankful to those who stood to protect our country. We will remember them.

GDP stats: People will never forgive this Government for crashing our economy during a cost-of-living crisis

Responding to the latest GDP figures which reveal the UK economy contracted 0.2% in the third quarter, marking the first step towards recession, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Today’s figures show the Conservative Government is leaving our economy smaller and all of us poorer.

People will never forgive this Government for crashing our economy during a cost-of-living crisis and putting up their mortgages by hundreds of pounds a month. The Conservative party can never again claim that they are the party of sound money.

Ministers must now do whatever it takes to protect households from the economic downturn they have caused, starting with a mortgage protection fund to ensure nobody loses their home this winter.

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3 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Bank of England rate rise: Chancellor must address the country
  • Asylum seekers abandoned – Braverman failing in her duty as Home Secretary
  • Elin Jones Wrong to Defend Mark Drakeford’s Qatar Trip Say Lib Dems
  • Number of GPs and GP Practices in Wales Fall
  • Interest rates: Chancellor must address the country with a plan to save homeowners
  • Davey: Recession warning a “badge of shame” for Rishi Sunak and Conservative government

Bank of England rate rise: Chancellor must address the country

Commenting ahead of today’s interest rate decision from the Bank of England, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The Chancellor must address the country immediately after the rate rise decision to spell out a plan to save homeowners on the brink. He should either come to Parliament or hold a press conference to announce support for families facing mortgage bill rises worth hundreds of pounds a month.

Hardworking families are being left to pay the price for weeks of Conservative chaos. People are desperately worried about how they are going to pay these frightening mortgage payments after tomorrow.

The Government cannot hide away, especially after their long list of economic failures.

Asylum seekers abandoned – Braverman failing in her duty as Home Secretary

The Liberal Democrats have warned that Home Secretary Suella Braverman is “failing in her duty” as Home Secretary, after reports asylum seekers have been left stranded in central London by the Home Office.

It comes after Robert Jenrick emphasised last night on ITV’s Peston that the Home Secretary has a duty not to release asylum seekers into destitution.

Suella Braverman also assured Parliament on Monday that she had refused to release people into local communities “without having anywhere for them to stay”.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Asylum seekers being abandoned with no place to stay in central London is the most blatant sign that the system is completely broken.

Suella Braverman is failing in her basic duty as Home Secretary. She needs to urgently explain how this has been allowed to happen, despite the assurances given to Parliament earlier this week.

It’s intolerable that vulnerable people are being left without help because of the endless chaos and incompetence of this government.

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18 October 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Triple lock: Truss looks set to betray struggling pensioners in the middle of a cost of living crisis
  • Lib Dem Amendment Put to Vote to End Sleaze in Parliament
  • Anti-sleaze amendment passed to stop MPs “marking their own homework”
  • Calls for Action as Drug-Related Deaths in Wales Rise to Highest Level Ever
  • Welsh Government Must Act to Stop the Brain Drain of Doctors in Wales

Triple lock: Truss looks set to betray struggling pensioners in the middle of a cost of living crisis

Responding to the Prime Minister’s spokesperson refusing to say the Government is committed to the triple lock pension, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Work and Pensions Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Liz Truss has trashed the economy and now looks set to betray struggling pensioners in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

This Conservative Government’s botched budget has already sent mortgage bills spiralling. It would be a kick in the teeth for millions of people if Truss now backtracks on her triple lock promise. The British public will never forgive the Conservative party if they break this promise.

This chaotic Government has to go. Britain needs a general election before Liz Truss and her Conservative Ministers do anymore damage.

Lib Dem Amendment Put to Vote to End Sleaze in Parliament

The Liberal Democrats have today led a cross-party Parliamentary effort to finally end the practice by which MPs are allowed to vote on motions regarding their own misconduct.

The Lib Dem Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain is today putting an amendment to a vote on the Government’s motion on standards, which the Government has tabled to implement recommendations from the Standards Committee, later this afternoon.

This practice was notoriously brought to attention by the Owen Paterson scandal, when he voted against his own suspension from the House of Commons in 2021 – a saga which ultimately resulted in a Liberal Democrat victory in the North Shropshire by-election.

The amendments, which have support from Conservatives (David Mundell, Alicia Kearns), Labour (Kim Leadbeater, Cat Smith) and the Green Party (Caroline Lucas), would prohibit members from voting on anything concerning their own conduct.

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Truss car crash interviews on BBC local radio on cost of living and fracking

Having absented herself from the media for days, the prime minister chose to defend her decisions and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget on BBC local radio. Truss appeared on breakfast shows on BBC Radio Leeds, Norfolk, Kent, Lancashire, Nottingham, Tees, Bristol and Stoke. Her media advisers clearly thought local radio would be a soft touch with presenters more used to talking about a church fete. So very wrong. The interviews were sometimes excruciating. You could hear pauses at times, as she struggled to find her scripted reply and to remember which radio station was interviewing her.

First up for the prime minister was an interview with on BBC Radio Leeds. As the first of the day, it wasn’t so much of a car crash for Truss as the later interviews.

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

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative party conference which begins this weekend, and instead recall parliament to vote to fix the disastrous mini-budget. Lib Dems are 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.

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Life resumes…..

It’s been an intense 11 days  since the Queen died.

For many people, a national bereavement takes a similar pattern to any other. The adrenaline gets you through to the funeral and it’s only afterwards that you have to adjust to the loss and its consequences. However we may feel about Queen Elizabeth’s legacy or, indeed, the institution of monarchy itself, it will take some time to get used to the new normal, not least because we have a brand new monarch and a brand new Government.

Anyone under the age of about 75 will not be able to remember having any other monarch than Queen Elizabeth. It’s  astonishing that we have had two Queens, covering 134 of the last 185 years. Both reigned during periods of intense social and economic change. I was thinking about this yesterday  as I woke up and looked up exactly how long they had been on the throne. Victoria had been on the throne for 63 years, 7 months and 2 days – and Elizabeth for 70 years, 7 months and 2 days. In all the wall to wall coverage I’ve absorbed since 8th September, I hadn’t heard that mentioned. Or maybe I’m the only one that finds it worthy of note.

We haven’t in any sort of memory had a new Head of State and Prime Minister in such quick succession. Elizabeth had wartime giant Winston Churchill as her first PM. When George V died, Stanley Baldwin was on his third prime ministerial stint. The last liberal Prime Minister, Asquith, had a couple of years under his belt before Edward VII died and Viscount Melbourne was extremely experienced when the 19 year old Victoria acceded.

The new King Charles has had decades to learn his trade and he has acknowledged that he can’t be as vocal on issues close to his heart as he was as Prince of Wales. A climate change denying Government is bound to be a test.

The cost of living emergency has not gone away. It is biting the most vulnerable every single day.  Inflation may have dipped a tiny bit down to 9.9% in August but households are still finding that the basics in life are a lot more expensive than they were last year before you even think about heating your house.

The last big political announcement was Liz Truss’s plan to deal with meteoric energy price rises. She intends to limit price rise so that the average household will pay no more than £2500. It’s likely you will pay more if you live in an energy inefficient, damp house. That includes many people on low incomes in private lets and social housing.

Ed Davey called Truss’s plan a “phony freeze” saying:

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A special Lib Dem Winter Crisis Conference

We are most likely heading into a bleak winter. The UK is in dire shape – the loss of our Queen, a lacklustre government, the economic downturn, energy and cost of living crises, strikes, ongoing Brexit consequences – maybe even the return of some COVID variant. Public support for Ukraine under these difficult circumstances must also be maintained.

This is the moment for the Lib Dems to show Britain that we have policies to deal with these critical issues. The answer could be a Special Lib Dem Conference on the Winter Crisis, as permitted by our constitution, to be held in November, just at the onset of winter, in substitution for our lost Autumn Conference.

The Federal Board and Federal Conference Committee rightly decided that the Autumn Conference could not go ahead at a time the country was in mourning. But what was unexpected was a single all-encompassing decision to completely cancel the conference rather than reschedule.

We cannot be absent ourselves from the political scene at this critical moment. The two main parties are proceeding with their conferences. The Trade Unions have postponed and will have theirs later. The FCC suggested that our parliamentary spokespersons could cover this off. But we need to take decisions and only the party membership can authorise policy through a fully-fledged decision-taking conference.

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“Phony Freeze” – Ed Davey calls out Government as bills double from last year

Ed Davey has accused the Conservatives of bringing in a “phony freeze” on energy bills, after it emerged the average family will see their heating costs almost double this winter compared to last year.

Here he is challenging the Prime Minister:

Under the plans set out by Liz Truss today, energy costs will be capped at £2,500 a year for the average home, almost double the £1,277 the cap was set at last October. It is also an increase of over £500 on the current price cap.

Liberal Democrats were the first to call for energy bills to be properly frozen by keeping the current cap in place, funded by a tougher windfall tax on the record profits of oil and gas companies.

Ed said:

This phony freeze will still leave struggling families and pensioners facing impossible choices this winter as energy bills almost double.

Liz Truss and the Conservatives are choosing to allow this huge hike to people’s heating costs, while refusing to properly tax the eye-watering profits of oil and gas companies.

This is a deliberate choice and it is the wrong one. People are furious that once again the Conservatives are on the side of oil and gas giants making record profits rather than families struggling to make ends meet.

The point about a cap being funded at least in part by a windfall tax is an important one. Why should huge energy companies get an unexpected £170 billion bonanza and not have to contribute at all, yet a household on the average wage gets a huge hike in their bills this Winter?

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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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Daisy Cooper slams Truss speech and Ed Davey calls for General Election

Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper has absolutely slammed Liz Truss’s speech on the steps of Number 10.

It did nothing, she said, for the business owners who were scared that they might have to close their businesses in days if not weeks.

She criticised the reported Truss plan on energy bills, saying that she should pay for it by taxing the energy companies’ massive profits rather than through general taxation.

Ed Davey was up early this morning. A friend of mine on Twitter saw him keeping warm with a Pret coffee. He explained to BBC Breakfast why the Government should tax energy firms:

 

Ed also called for a General Election to get the Tories out of power once and for all:

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LibLink: Christine Jardine Will new PM save us or watch as economy is wrecked?

Christine Jardine has some questions for our new PM in this week’s Scotsman column.

For many of us, the question will be whether the new Prime Minister will be equipped to deal with the crises that have gone unaddressed while the country awaited the outcome of their party’s decision-making process.

And does the government actually even understand the extent of the fear being felt across the country at what this winter might bring?

A survey carried out by the Liberal Democrats revealed this past week that almost one in four adults is planning not to turn on their heating over the winter because of the potential cost. That figure rises to more than one in four when they focused on adults with children under the age of 18. Similar research carried out by Savanta discovered that more than two thirds of us will be limiting our use of heating.

What do we need from our new PM?

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One in four expect to never turn their heating on this winter due to rising energy bills

  • New polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrats reveals the public are planning to make heartbreaking decisions to cope with spiralling energy prices this winter
  • Parents with children under 18 set to be hardest hit by energy rises according to new poll
  • Lib Dems warn of “the worst cost of living crisis in a century” if Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak do not scrap the energy price cap rise

New polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed almost one in four (23%) of UK adults plan to never turn their heating on this winter. This rises to over one in four (27%) amongst …

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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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Take Back Control

Until the 1980’s, when the utilities were privatised by Margaret Thatcher, they were in the Public Sector. And what a success privatisation has been. It has created dozens of millionaires paid for by the general public through higher gas, electricity and water bills!

The half-yearly profits of the utilities and their Chief Executive’s pay are obscene.

COMPANY HALF YEAR PROFITS 2022 CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S PAY
EON £3.4bn £1m
National Grid £3.4bn £6.5m
RWE £2.2bn £3.6m
Orsted £1.5bn £1.7m
Centrica £1.3bn £4.5m
SSE £1.2bn £4.5m
Uniper £1bn £1.6m
Scottish Power £925m £1.15m
Drax £225m £2.7m
EDF (£225m) loss £1m

 

Lightsource did not attend the meeting with the Prime Minister and their figures are not available.

The total disclosed half yearly profits are £14.9bn: which will be in excess of £30bn in the full year.

Instead of considering a windfall tax on these excessive profits (as has also been considered in respect of petrol) to provide help to those least able to afford their gas and electricity bills, if the gas and electricity companies were taken back into in public ownership these profits and the cost of excessive salaries could be used to reduce the bills for everyone. Instead of many Chief Executives and senior managers earning between £1m and £6.5 million per year there would be just two Chief Executives, one for gas and one for electricity, paid on public sector rather than private sector pay scales earning around £200,000 each. (The highest paid local government Chief Executive gets £185,000 for, arguably, greater and certainly wider responsibility)

So just how bad is the situation?

According to a report in The Guardian 2/3rds of UK households will be trapped in fuel poverty by January meaning their fuel costs will be 10% or more of their income. 18m families, or approximately 45m people, will be struggling to make ends meet. 86.4% of retired people and 90.4% of single parent families with two or more children will fall into fuel poverty.

This comes at the end of a decade during which the rich have got richer whilst the majority, subject to austerity, have got poorer. According to a report by the Paris-based World Inequality Lab, 2020 saw the steepest increase in billionaires’ wealth on record. In contrast 100m additional people, worldwide, sank into extreme poverty.

A consequence of this widening inequality is that, prior to the recent cost of living crisis, there were 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK. The Government had focused on making work pay, but two in three children who were in poverty had a parent who was in work. These parents were no more able to do anything to help their children than are older people who have no earning capacity or borrowing power, many of whom prior to the abolition of the “default retirement age” had been forced into retirement and condemned to spending the rest of their lives in poverty.

Children brought up in poverty are less likely to do well at school, more likely to have health problems, making a demand upon the NHS, and have a shorter life expectancy.

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Helen Morgan challenges Greg Clark on Community Heating Hubs

On 16 August, Helen Morgan wrote to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities calling for action to protect those who will not be able to afford to heat their homes this winter. She has also written to Shropshire Council leader Lezley Picton:

Places like libraries and leisure centres could easily be adapted to provide a safe space for people to sit and keep warm during the day, at no extra cost to the tax payer.

Community Heating Hubs are simple, easily implemented and could be a literal lifeline for some households this winter.

In her letter to Greg Clark, Morgan said the country faces a cost of living emergency. She urges him to tackle the emergency this winter by requiring all local authorities to provide Community Heating Hubs, making public buildings available to those who can’t afford to keep their heating on at home.

I’m hoping you will wake this zombie government and take action to help the millions of people being pushed towards poverty by the cost of living emergency. Please ask all local authorities to take this simple step.

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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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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.

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Davey: A cosy meeting with energy companies isn’t enough

 

Ed Davey has warned that tomorrow’s meeting between government ministers and energy companies risks becoming “a pointless talking shop” unless a tougher windfall tax is confirmed.

He demanded that the Business Secretary and Chancellor impose a tougher windfall tax on energy companies to fund the scrapping of October’s energy price rise. He wants the rate raised from 25% to 30% and its scope increased to include profits since October 2021.

He thinks this could raise around £20 billion, four times more than the government’s weaker levy is currently expected to generate.

Ed said:

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Scotsman: Lib Dems deserve praise for coming up with what looks like a plan

Praise for the Lib Dems’ call for October’s energy price rise to be scrapped from an unlikely source appears today. The Scotsman leader column says:

Labour’s party political point-scoring about Johnson being in office but not in government might impress some but hardly offers an alternative solution.

Instead it was left to the Liberal Democrats to come up with what sounds like an expensive but effective plan.

They called for the energy price cap to remain at its current rate with energy suppliers recompensed by government for rising wholesale prices to the tune of £36 billion, partly funded by an extended windfall tax on fossil fuel companies. As Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey rightly said, “this is an emergency, and the government must step in now”.

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Ed Davey: Cancel energy price rise to avoid a social catastrophe

Here’s Ed Davey on yesterday’s Good Morning Britain  talking about his radical call for the Government to cancel the energy price cap rise planned for October, paying for it by a windfall tax on energy companies and increased VAT receipts.

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Forget cutting VAT: social tariffs would help tackle the cost-of-living crisis

The cost-of-living crisis should be the number one priority for all political parties this summer. With the energy price cap due to rise by an eye watering 70%, on top of the 54% rise earlier this year, a cruel winter beckons, one that for some, make no mistake, will be fatal.

Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, has spent the summer pleading fruitlessly for solutions from government. Meanwhile, Labour has chosen to squander their time arguing about whether the Shadow Cabinet should join the picket lines of those on strike.

There is a huge space for the Liberal Democrats to propose powerful, radical policy that will make a real difference to those that need it most.

A temporary cut in VAT, to be debated at Autumn Conference as our headline solution, is not that policy.

I’m no great fan of VAT, but timing is everything and the timing of this cut is wrong. On straightforward grounds of fairness, to give away the most to those who already have the most – as cutting a tax on spending would boil down to – is simply perverse right now. Moreover, both the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Institute for Government warn strongly against the policy, citing the prolonged inflation and interest rate rises that will likely result as serious long-term risks for the economy and households.

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Women’s Aid highlights impact of cost of living crisis on women experiencing domestic abuse

Steep rises in the cost of food and energy are hard enough to deal with if you are on a low income. If you are in a situation where you are not safe at home, the impact is so much worse.

Women’s Aid have published the results of a survey of women who have experienced domestic abuse and the results make terrifying reading.

They found that:

Almost all survivors (96%) responding had seen a negative impact on the amount of money available to them as a result of cost of living increases. 

Two thirds (66%) of survivors told us that abusers are now using the cost of living increase and concerns about financial hardship as a tool for coercive control, including to justify further restricting their access to money. 

Almost three quarters (73%) of women living with and having financial links with the abuser said that the cost of living crisis had either prevented them from leaving or made it harder for them to leave. 

It is hard enough to leave an abusive partner and it is awful to think that there are even more barriers to women reaching safety because of the current economic situation.

Women’s Aid call for the following:

An Emergency Domestic Abuse Fund to support  survivors of domestic abuse through this crisis period, to pay for essential items and energy bills. 

Reduced energy costs for all refuges during the cost of living crisis, for example by extending the remit of Warm Home Discount Scheme to include refuges;

Better provision of legal services for survivors; reduce the impact of legal aid costs for survivors; fairer access to legal aid and other advocacy services and interest-free loans for legal support where necessary.

Their Chief Executive, Farah Nazeer, said:

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Five Policies for a Manifesto: In Case of Snap Election, break glass

There’s been a lot of speculation, before and following the fall of Boris Johnson, that there could be a snap General Election this year – initially that Johnson himself might call one as a final desperate throw of the dice; later that whoever is new Tory leader would see the economic prospects as increasingly dire and go for a personal mandate to give themselves five years to try to ride out the coming Winter of Discontent. 

Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have now ruled out an early election. But they’ve promised a lot of other things they cannot deliver too.

So it would be wise to be thinking about what we want to see in a Liberal Democrat manifesto.

A snap election would be dominated by the cost of living crisis, so I’ve given some thought to how we might address some of the “freedom from poverty, ignorance and conformity” with particular emphasis on the “freedom from poverty”, and looked a little to Maslow’s famous pyramid of needs.

Everyone will come up with their own answers. These are the answers that I thought of. 

1st Food and Water: 

No one should starve in this country. 

We will introduce a national basic income so everyone will have some means to feed themselves. We will include extra allowances based on need for medical equipment. 

We will protect and value our farming and fishing industries, and rebuild our relationship with the EU, our closest and largest market for buying and selling food, to lower barriers and bring down food prices.

We will invest in development of new vertical farming and hydroponics, for a food production and security and to reduce the pressure on intensive farming methods.

Britain is a famously rainy island but embarrassingly short of water.

We will address water-resilience through addressing the issue of losses through leakage, new reserve reservoirs, and de-salination plants. 

We will end the discharge of sewage into our rivers and beaches.

2nd Warmth and Light: 

We will build onshore and offshore wind turbines and tidal lagoons to provide sustainable low-cost electricity for all. We will make energy the new UK cash crop. 

With our mix of wind and tide power, Britain should have more than enough renewable energy supply to provide for the needs of the UK and more.

We will invest in and build new forms of power storage, including pumped water (like Dinorwic) compressed-air under-sea storage, molten salt/sand technologies, and battery storage to create a new National Grid for the 21st century, so that British companies can become the dominant players in what is obviously going to be one of the biggest markets in the world.

3rd Shelter: 

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Universal Credit – reform, repeal or revolution?

I ought to start off with what might be described as a confession. I rather welcomed the concept of Universal Credit when it was first mooted – the notion that you might combine a number of different benefits, with different application processes and eligibility criteria, into one benefit, struck me as a bit of a no-brainer. I am, after all, a bureaucrat. And, from a user perspective, simplifying what was necessary to establish a claim could only help more people to get the support that they were due.

But what happened next was the inevitable result of deliberate underfunding and a failure to ensure that the systems were in place and fully tested before being rolled out. What followed was a slowly unfolding nightmare for everyone involved but mostly for those who needed a working system most, the claimants. Higher taper levels for earned income destroyed the incentive to seek work, maladministration and a punitive sanctions system meant that claimants suffered from a complete lack of support when they were at their most vulnerable. And sadly, little has changed. The temporary £20 per week increase during the pandemic made a sizeable difference to many, but reversion to the previously existing arrangements, combined with the surge in inflation and energy costs, has thrown hundreds of thousands of households into crisis.

So, what is to be done? Can you fix the Universal Credit system, or should it just be burned to the ground and a new start made?

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Davey: We’ll work with others to out this indecent government

In a podcast interview for Politics Home, Ed Davey said there is no formal pact with Labour but it was simply rational behaviour for both parties to put their resources where they have the best chance of winning.

He said the Lib Dems intend to take on Labour in areas where we can think we can beat them.

The interview also covered Partygate, the economy and the cost of living crisis, Tiverton and Honiton, and Lib Dem values.

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