And now, as promised, the rest of the press releases…

Figures highlight extremely difficult time for high streets

Responding as the BDO High Streets Tracker reveals that sales declined by 3.7%, the worst February for lifestyle in-store sales since November 2008, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Our high streets are clearly going through an extremely difficult time, thanks to a combination of long-term structural challenges and the damaging effects of Brexit uncertainty.

But with the right action from government, councils, businesses and local communities, they can prosper once again. Instead of trying to recreate the high streets of the past, Britain’s towns and cities need to refresh their offer at a time of growing demand for online shopping.

Liberal Democrats believe we should enable towns to thrive in the 21st century. We would replace business rates with a tax on land value, reform restrictive planning rules, and provide additional support for local entrepreneurs.

Swinson: Employers must be held to account over gender pay gap

Responding to a new YouGov survey for Young Women’s Trust that 30% of employers have not tried to reduce their gender pay gap, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson said:

It is disappointing that one in three organisations have not tried to improve their gender pay gap.

Gender pay gap reporting has injected transparency in the debate on pay and equality in the workplace. But publishing numbers is not enough.

We must require employers to also report what they will do to reduce the gap in their organisations, so that employees and consumers can hold them to account when they fail to improve.

The Government must also provide better guidance and support to employers on how they can close their gender pay gap.

Chancellor must end the freeze on benefits and tax credits

Liberal Democrat DWP Spokesperson Christine Jardine has called for the Chancellor to use his Spring Statement to end the freeze on working-age benefits, including Universal Credit and tax credits.

It comes as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation publishes new statistics [08 March 2019 00:01] revealing that, should the final year of the freeze go ahead, the benefits freeze will end up pushing 400,000 more people into poverty since 2015.

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said:

The Conservative freeze on working-age benefits is causing real pain and misery that must be stopped. Liberal Democrats demand better than the Tories’ cruel policy of balancing the books on the backs of the poorest.

Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for an urgent end to the benefits freeze and a full restoration of the billions the Tories’ cut from Universal Credit. Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report proves all families and children would benefit, particularly the most vulnerable.

The Spring Statement is the last chance to scrap the benefits freeze before the final year of the freeze kicks in. The Chancellor must end the misery. If he doesn’t, he should be in no doubt that every life made harder and every child pushed into poverty will be on his watch.

Davey: Strip Home Office of immigration powers

Responding to an Institute for Government report highlighting “flaws in the immigration system”, published today (Friday 8th March), Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The Institute for Government is right. The Windrush scandal and countless other failings show that the immigration system is not fit for purpose.

Now Brexit risks another scandal on an even bigger scale, as millions of EU citizens are exposed to the poisonous combination of Home Office incompetence and Theresa May’s hostile environment.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We will scrap the hostile environment and strip the Home Office of responsibility for immigration.

Policymaking on work visas, student visas and asylum should be given to the Departments for Business, Education and International Development respectively – parts of Whitehall that aren’t infected by the Home Office’s toxic culture, and that understand far better the needs of our economy, our universities and refugees.