The time is now for planning Beveridge-2

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Post-Covid and after the delivery of Brexit, our country needs radical reforms of the kind Sir William Beveridge proposed for the end of the Second World War. He wanted a comprehensive programme of reforms, to cover the social injustice and unfairness he saw around him. The reforms should result in alleviating poverty, limiting disease, stopping homelessness, improving education and providing jobs for everyone who needed them.

These are the areas in which radical reform is needed again today. The social contract that existed between government and people in the post-war world has broken down and requires renewing. The Liberal Democrats as the heirs of the Liberal Beveridge are uniquely well placed to demand a new Beveridge-type reform plan.

A business motion has now been sent to the Conference Committee for possible debate at our March Conference. Entitled Beveridge-2 Plan within a Social Contract, it calls for the party to pursue a campaign for a Beveridge-type Plan of radical reforms. The Plan should seek solutions for all the social ills which afflict our country and which have worsened so much recently. It must focus on relieving the growing poverty and restoring full employment, on providing integrated and sufficient health and social care, on ensuring that there are enough homes including social housing available at affordable cost, and on remedying the growing deficiencies of education for all children.

The motion proposes a radical way forward to create the Plan. It requires the party to immediately establish a Commission, to consider urgently how our policies may be grouped and developed to constitute the new Plan, asking progressive politicians and academics to contribute to it. The Commission would then report to Conference next autumn on how the work is developing, with a recommendation that the Policy Committee develop a Consultation paper on the Plan for the Spring Conference next year.

Meantime the motion asks that other major national parties be urged to work with our party in campaigning for the present government to bring in immediate remedial measures to combat rising poverty and unemployment, and especially to ensure that economic measures taken this year do not impact on the poorest members of society.

As explanatory notes sent to the Conference Committee along with the motion make clear, the motion is not proposing new policies, but would embrace existing policies such as UBI and welfare benefit reforms as part of the new overarching Plan. Where there is already ongoing work to develop our existing policies further, this will dovetail with the Commission’s work, but the Commission in calling for input from progressive politicians and academics from outside our party will broaden the reach of the Plan. It has the potential to benefit the country, at the same time as increasing the relevance and prominence of our party in the national life.

The business motion discussed here was a joint effort by Michael Berwick-Gooding and myself, and was submitted by our respective constituency parties – Basingstoke, and Copeland and Workington – plus ten individual members.

* Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Copeland and Workington.

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  • Steve Trevethan 7th Jan '21 - 4:05pm

    Thank you for another important article and a much needed endeavour!

  • A very welcome initiative from Katharine and Michael. Not only is it intrinsically the right thing to do in the true radical Liberal tradition, but hopefully it might just regain some of the party’s credibility squandered over the last decade. There is no future for an introspective home counties based middle class party.

    If Conference Committee don’t accept it then I genuinely fear for the party’s future.

  • Helen Dudden 7th Jan '21 - 6:07pm

    I was born in April 1948, one of the coldest winters leading into Spring. My mother and father struggled, to keep me warm. My mother told me how icicles hung from the trees. I was born in a small flat in a very small Somerset village.
    Times were difficult, as I think most of around my age will remember. Imagine, this new Health Service was something so new, medical treatment and care. Orange juice from the clinic, a small bottle of milk a day, on the school break and a cooked lunchtime school meal. We had little, but we had more than some children get today. Thanks to Sir William Beveridge.
    I read today, about the plan for home births, like my mother had. I believe in choice and safety, as a mother myself. Covid is taking everything, even the Children’s Wards are inline.
    We have in some hospitals, a total breakdown, the NHS has been badly managed, this does tend to happen, but now it’s worse.
    How can it be done better, somethings can’t be cut down to the bone and expected to function adequately. I believe in more participation in the Community, we also need more transparency.

  • This seems overall a very sensible way forward.


    1. It isn’t clear from Katharine’s write-up – unless I have missed it – how party members will be able to feed in to the work of the Commission.

    On this I’d suggest that it might be worthwhile to consider some “party member citizen assemblies” – people drawn at random from the party membership to discuss the issues. And also some non-party citizen assemblies – may be particularly drawn from “left behind” towns and cities. I have fears about something that is too academic and politician led.

    What’s the proposed composition of the membership of the commission?

    2. On a policy front – I would hope that we would have a particular emphasis on education. Sometimes I think that the discussion on LDV focuses on the amount of money that the poorer sections of society get. This has an importance. But we should concentrate that people don’t suffer from the consequences of poverty in life chances, health and education. Actually in the UK we have a very low level of persistent poverty. People (probably most people) have periods when they are paid are less or are unemployed – they point is that that they should be able to work (and study) their way out of it.

    We should particularly look to lowering the “education attainment gap” between the poorer and their richer peers. The pupil premium is a good tool to combat this. But along with increasing the pupil premium, we also need to increase school budgets for those in poorer areas and the overall school budget. And I would put money into the education budget before benefits.

    There is also an issue on how much better off people are if they start working. Doing calculations on the “entitled to” online calculator a few years ago – a single person, living in private rented accommodation would be £1 an hour better off moving from unemployment into a minimum wage job – probably making them worse off after the costs of working are taking into account.

    There are a number of things that need to happen to tackle this. But particularly reforming local council taxation. Local Income Tax would be an easily understood and cost-neutral way of improving this – boosting such people’s incomes by about £1,000 a year – although I appreciate the party’s infatuation with Land Value Tax.

  • Peter Davies 7th Jan '21 - 8:24pm

    @ Michael 1 The worst marginal rate you can get when you combine Universal Credit withdrawal, NI contributions and income tax would give you about £2.19. It is £2.58 below the income tax allowance, £3.23 until you start paying NI and £8.72 below the work allowance It’s pretty bad but not quite as bad as you suggest.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Jan '21 - 8:58pm

    Thanks, colleagues, health and education are two essential areas where the proposed Commission should open up discussion on reforms. I recommend as background the Rethink Fairness series on Radio 4 that has been going on this week each morning at 9 am – the last tomorrow, but I suppose one can catch up on I-Player. I caught this morning a bit of discussion there between Sir Angus Deaton and Sir Michael Marmot, great authorities both, on how educational inequality has worsened during the Pandemic. What to do about it? Can Lib Dem policies present or being developed help? These are the sort of questions I hope the proposed Commission would address.

    Michael 1, thank you for raising questions about the nature of the Commission, this new idea. The composition would depend on who the party wants. I am sure we have peers, former MPs and ex-MEPs who might be asked to contribute from their knowledge and experience, perhaps two for each of the five areas. Ordinary members ought certainly to be able to put forward or discuss proposals with them. I like your idea that they might call up some ‘citizen assemblies’, or at least citizen meetings via Zoom, to discuss particular policy proposals. These could as you suggest be citizen meetings either of members – it could be first served. the first 100 to apply perhaps? – or of ordinary citizens. The Commission might call on the expertise of Jon Alexander of Social Liberal Forum, advocate of Citizens’ Britain, to advise on that.

    Then as to bringing in outside politicians and academics, the Commission could surely contact the above-mentioned distinguished knights to discuss particular suggestions and policy developments. They might perhaps look to progressive free-thinkers in the other parties, or ex-MPs like Heidi Allen: but I think they should be seeking always for expertise and experience in one or another of the areas.

    There is much to be done. I don’t agree with you about poverty, Michael 1. The fact that experts have kept finding that there are at least 14 million people living in poverty in this country, a number that rose last year, suggests there is indeed persistent poverty. And finding a job that pays enough, especially for people at a disadvantage like single mothers and people with a disability, has become harder than ever in these last few months.

  • neil sandison 7th Jan '21 - 10:05pm

    Well done Katherine Beveridge 2 is what we should be discussing at conference and I am sure that many local parties would applaud your business motion .Advertise it on our social media platforms policy debating sites . This is the Liberal Democrats finally getting back to our roots with transformative policy making that tackles the real fault lines in our society . Sir Williams analysis of the evils of our age are just as relevant now as they were in 1948.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Jan '21 - 10:20pm

    Thank you very much, Neil. What social media sites do you recommend? I am easily baffled by Facebook, which has adopted a new format, and lost the previous clear links to, for instance, the private Lib Dem federal committee sites. Any advice or links would be helpful. It is very nice meantime to have your support for the motion.

  • The striking thing about Britain today is seeing rough sleepers in the towns and city centers. It is a measure of failure of the welfare state. Britain needs to move forward from welfare state to welfare society.

  • Michael 1,

    Indeed, we should consider citizen assemblies or juries of party members. I would like our policy working groups to be more like them with members applying and being draw out on a regional basis, so every policy working group would have one member from each of our 11 regions and our two other state parties.

    I think we far too often seem to focus on education as if education is a panacea out of poverty. It isn’t. However, I agree that people should be able to obtain the training they need get a secure job which would remove them from poverty. To ensure this happens not only should unemployed people receive the free training they need to obtain such jobs, but the jobs need to be there and they need to pay wages which deliver this. The National Minimum Wage does not deliver this. An economic policy of full employment has to be part of the solution.

    If people on benefits didn’t live in poverty then their children would have better life chances. It is living in poverty which hold children back. In such a rich country as the UK no one should be living in poverty at all even if they are on benefits.

    I am not convinced that the pupil premium has made much difference because of the cuts in the amount schools receive per pupil. However, if the amount per pupil was restored to the highest level it was at over the last twenty years then an improved pupil premium which ensures that schools receive extra money for every pupil who lives in poverty (not the case at present) then I think it would then make the difference claimed for it.

    People with no children have no work allowance under Universal Credit. This means that there is no amount that they can earn before they start to have their benefit reduced. This is wrong and I think it should be at least £50 a week (£216.67 a month) per adult to cover some of the extra costs involved in working. (At the moment this is £287 a month for those claiming the housing element with children or with limited capability to work.)

  • Helen Dudden 8th Jan '21 - 8:25am

    The present climate where hospital treatment is for Covid mainly, is going to cause problems.
    I think we should make sure that children are fed adequately. The breakfast clubs are a very good idea. I’m sure that’s one that could be further extended. That, actually helps key workers too, as with after school clubs. Build a healthier society, where education is there for all what ever the level.
    Housing, I’m a Power Wheelchair user, the difficulty with housing and Health and Safety. It can take years to find one of the few homes suitable. I’m working with several charities on that one.
    There was some talk about Home births. I think that is a step back in some cases, taking over Maternity Wards is not a great idea even for Covid.
    I am sent a Health Journal every day. I’ve worked on Teacher Staffing and within the former DSS providing care to those in the street and disabled people.

  • Chris Perry 8th Jan '21 - 9:43am

    Exactly what is needed. There is so much inequality and disadvantage in our society which needs radical reform at a whole systems level taking into account cause and effect.

  • I am sorry to see, so far, no mention of two important themes: a Universal Basic Income (UBI), and the so called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).

    Why is this, when there seems to be general agreement that the last decade has been disastrous for half our populations in the UK (and similarly in the USA)? Is it all to do with a regrettable slant or twist imparted to our easy assumptions by an unfortunate choice of words? There are several reasons why “universal” has a negative ring to Liberal ears: ‘Universal Credit ‘ is just one. It also has the hint of the ‘CCP’ banners or placards of Trump’s stormtroopers as a charge to level against liberal democracy!!

    And “Modern” sounds like “contemporary” , when in fact MMT argues for a change of course based on a Keynesian compass. (To sit alongside Beveridge, rightly a popular word with us LDs). MMT exposes the tragic and disastrous error at the heart of Conservative “Austerity”.
    [See The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton: virtually the only mention of the UK in this US book cites the homely and wrong beliefs of Thatcher and May and their chancellors.]

    I think, also, that LD talk of a new Social Contract is regrettable. Regrettable not because it is not a Good Idea, for indeed it is, but because it is an Old Idea, but looking to be past its sell-by date when written with the capitals. However just our reasonings, reason is half the problem as well as half the solution: the other half, is to catch the attention of those who might vote with us.

    Or even for us. Can we find, or create, a new vocabulary or lexicon, with which to promote our Liberal beliefs and proposals to ears currently tired of the universal Tory words for
    ‘very ‘ — “fantastically”, “incredibly” “unbelievably”.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Jan '21 - 11:55am

    The final programme this morning in the excellent Radio 4 series on Rethink Fairness was about the lack of fairness to young people today. Ensuring all children have a fair chance of good education is an acute problem. In households living in poverty, children obliged to have home schooling during lockdown have been at a disadvantage, with not enough space, equipment and parental help readily available, especially if there are several children of different ages sharing the study area. Their education has been set back, as Sir Michael Marmot had noted previously. Can we devise ways of offering extra tuition and educational opportunities for children in poorer areas? Perhaps army teaching resources – buildings, courses and teachers – could be sought for extra classes in school holidays?

    The radio programme this morning brought out strongly how disadvantaged young people are today compared with previous generations such as the post-war baby boomers, saddled with debt if they take a degree, struggling in the more competitive jobs market, having little chance of buying a house and paying so much of their income for rented accommodation. Not a solution, but a panacea, would be as our own policy has suggested to give all young people a lump sum at some stage in their lives, or perhaps lump sums at two points in their lives, to help them develop new career opportunities.

    That would be work of the proposed Commission, Roger Lake, to draw together existing Lib Dem policies such as paying young people lump sums, or UBI ( which was actually mentioned in the article), to propose some remedies for the massive social injustices here today. Thank you for your support, Chris Perry, and for your suggestions, Helen Dudden.

  • neil sandison 8th Jan '21 - 12:59pm

    Katherine Pindar regarding policy groups I would suggest two . Policy Group the Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Democrat Policy Lab . I am sure members can suggest specific policy areas like housing ,health and social policy that would dovetail into your motion or we could set up a Beveridge 2 group for members to like and share on social media.

  • Nigel Jones 8th Jan '21 - 3:56pm

    I support what Katherine is trying to do and, like David Raw will feel let down if the motion is not debated. The “new overarching Plan”, rather than new detailed policies, is just what this party needs. As I have said in response to William Wallace’s article yesterday about helping the neglected communities, we need joined up thinking. That will enable us to come up with messages that convey what we want to do to improve the lives of people and their communities. We must focus on people first.
    For example, it is often said that Education is an answer, but that alone is failing to do it already, because it is greatly affected by what goes on in people’s lives outside the schools and colleges.
    If FCC reject this motion on the basis that it does not form new policy, I will be very angry. A couple of years ago, i had an amendment to an education motion, ABOUT education, rejected by them because it was not to do with the detail of what goes on in our schools. No wonder there are complaints that we don’t get our messaging out in a meaningful way to the general public.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Jan '21 - 5:19pm

    I believe you are right, Nigel (thank you), we do need an overarching plan, because all five themes are not only all important, they are intimately connected. As you suggest, and as Professor Marmot pointed out in his latest review, children’s education is very much affected by their environment. Equally, suffering poverty is often connected with inadequate income from jobs in the gig economy, and with housing costs; and the inadequate universal credit system, by giving loans, not extra grants, can often lead to people accumulating debts.

    The ways of FCC are indeed inscrutable, and I would welcome any way of spreading this message. Thank you for the ideas, Neil, but I thought you were proposing social media sites like Facebook which I am not good at using. I shall ask my good friend with children at home to assist me! Small point, by the way, supportive chaps, my name has an ‘a’ in the middle not an ‘e’, and I am somewhat attached to it…:)

    Manfarang, moving forward from welfare state to welfare society is a fine idea, and I agree about the sad sight of sleepers in our streets; further initiatives such as one in Manchester I recall reading about are needed. My own pet hate is food banks. I would like our party and other progressive thinkers to campaign so effectively for a Beveridge-2 Plan that the need for food banks will dwindle, and we could set a target for them to disappear altogether in their present form.

  • On education

    It’s true that the Pupil Premium (PP) is not the sole answer to closing the attainment gap (and you have of course to look at the overall budget for schools) and that education is not the only answer to poverty. But I would submit that they both have significant roles to play.

    There is an interesting Radio 4 Analysis programme on the PP etc. at

    Prof Allen says she suspects the attainment gap would be wider if there hadn’t been the PP. She also says “much of the support of the poorest children need lies outside the classroom.” Often teachers and staff have a lot of work doing things like sorting out benefits for families etc. – it is why I’d increase the budgets for schools in deprived areas particularly to provide “pastoral” and “wraparound” support.

    I think therefore that there should be a three pronged approach – increasing:
    The PP
    Schools’ budgets in deprived areas
    All schools budgets.

    At a guess £2.5 billion extra for each (currently schools budget is around £40bn)

    I’d put that money first into education before uprating benefits.

    There is excellent wonderful news coming.

    The complete destruction of unskilled jobs.

    They will be taken by robots, AI, cheaper labour in the developing world.

    We will though have more jobs – better paid – here in the UK as a result.

    And we will be only able to compete if we – as our competitors like South Korea already do – send 75% to university – and educate 100% of people up to the age of 21.

    Take the past 100 years or even 60 and think how radically jobs and employment have changed.

    And then project that forward 60-100 years – a period when those being born and educated in the next few years will still be part of the labour market.

    Driving, assembly, call centre, warehouse jobs – all gone to robots, AI and countries with cheaper workforces.

    All this is brilliant, wonderful news for poverty and for jobs – there will be more, better and better paid jobs than ever before.

    It is difficult to say what those jobs will be. For example people might have said that replacing horses by cars would mean less jobs in the “travel” industry but more people tend our cars and work as drivers than ever did then.

    But they are likely to be higher skilled, and demand a higher level of education – the key to eradicating poverty long term.

  • Steve Trevethan 8th Jan '21 - 7:55pm

    It is very much to be hoped that your motion is successful both, for its own virtues and because it could enable us to look at Economics differently and in better ways.

    I presents a social and economic, emphasis on resources. Whenever people are not in good circumstances, housing, health, education, employment etc. there is a needless inefficiency in the economy. Our people are our greatest and most important resource. All need to be the recipients of the benefits of our economy and not a powerful few.

    Making sure that our socio-economic theories and practices result in all being well fed, healthy, self-confident energetic, assertive and enterprising is our best investment.

    The deliberate under-investment in the majority of our people and our infrastructures is bad economics for the many and good for the few.

    This inequitable inefficiency uses obscurantism in general and the deficit myth in particular. Provided that inflation and employment are carefully and clearly managed, HMG can, in its own currency, spend as much as is needed to create enabling living conditions. It must spend more than it taxes back to provide the money for households and private enterprise.

    We have been groomed to accept the myth of “balancing the books” which is an important simulation of performance but it is less important than the reality, as is shown by the Covid crisis.

    HMG can produce massive amounts of money to address Covid. It cannot produce enough medical staff and reserve resources. Similarly the “book balancing” myth has resulted in a lack of internet resources for all children, a lack of public education on managing basic health practices and epidemics etc.

    Resource focus economics, on which Modern Monetary Theory has much to offer, presents a practical way forward and an escape from the class based and class benefiting theory and practices of current Neo-liberalism.

    P.S. Reading pretty well anything by S. Kelton, A.P. Lerner, S. Keen, M. Hudson an W. Mosler is both informative and entertaining.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Jan '21 - 9:25pm

    Steve Trevethan. That is a really helpful analysis, thank you, Steve. To think of a healthy, self-confident and energetic populace as the major economic resource we should aim to have seems absolutely right. You show how misguided the policies of HMG have been, and the consequent lack of sufficient resources for the present health crisis. The theory behind the vast expenditure of monetary support is not one that can be trusted for the renewal and reform that is now needed. Fortunately Liberal Democrat acceptance of modern economic theory seems assured, and should therefore allow the reforms the Commission may recommend to be paid for without any hair shirts.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Jan '21 - 9:47pm

    Michael 1. Thank you for pointing out the useful Radio 4 Analysis programme, Michael, and following up with good recommendations. I still like, though, my new idea that perhaps army resources could be called on this year – I think of the TA building I drive past on my way to Morrisons in Workington, and imagine extra classes being held there by army teachers. That goes back I suppose to my having heard from my parents long ago that entering the army ensured a good and useful education.

    However that may be, I can’t share your delighted expectation that unskilled jobs will be done by robots. I hardly think that would meet our Leader’s wishes! People living in care homes, for one important group of people, will still need the company and care of real people. I think the increased loneliness and mental ill-health many people have suffered and must suffer still in lockdown reassert our basic need for human contact. Even the supermarket counter staff can cheer an isolated person’s day with pleasant exchanges, as I remember well from the time when I lived lonely in London. And I am not at all sure I see where the ‘more, better and better-paid jobs’ are to come from. More work for the proposed Commission – radical thinking on employment opportunities is really needed.

  • Nigel Jones 8th Jan '21 - 11:35pm

    Michael 1: Sorry it’s late but I must come back about Education, which of course has a part to play and needs changing. The overall picture you describe is fine; though we also need to mention a change in the nature of education to include more creativity for example. The main concern is for that portion of young people who do not succeed in getting to university nor achieving excellence in a vocational course.
    Yes, there were plenty of indications that pupil premium has helped, but the Education Policy Institute (led by David Laws who introduced the PP) was the first research group to say that the gap in achievement stopped narrowing about a couple of years ago. Then in 20019 they confirmed this and other investigations by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research and by the Social Mobility Commission reported the same and were saying before the pandemic struck that it was going into reverse. Indeed the Social Mobility Commission estimate that about 90% of the explanation for lack of achievement by a significant minority of youngsters is accounted for by what goes on outside school.
    That throws a question about your suggestion for where we spend our money, though in real terms we spend less on education now than we did in 2010. One key message must be repeated; THERE ARE LIMITS TO WHAT TEACHERS ON THEIR OWN CAN DO TO MAKE UP FOR THE ILLS OF SOCIETY.
    I spoke at a fringe meeting with the NEU in September where my key point was that schools must be helped by a big increase in quantity and quality of other local services.

  • It is great to read people commenting that this motion should be selected for debate for the forthcoming Federal Conference. If it is not, then we need to look at how motions are selected for debate. I think, currently it seems that only those motions which are supported by members of the Federal Conference Committee are selected.

    There is an attainment gap for those children living in poverty. It is the living in poverty which is the cause not the education or abilities of the parents. Therefore providing extra resources for schools to deal with this attainment gap is like putting a sticking plaster on the problem rather than actually solving the problem. The solution has to be ensuring no children live in poverty. According to the Social Metrics Commission 4.5 million children in the UK live in poverty. We should have policies to remove all children in the UK from living in poverty. I believe this can only be done if all adults are also removed from living in poverty.

    Well said Steve Trevethan “Our people are our greatest and most important resource. All need to be the recipients of the benefits of our economy and not a powerful few.” The economy needs to be run for the benefit of people. This for me means enabling everyone who wants a job to have one, enabling that no one lives in poverty, and that everyone who want a home of their own has one. Plus that no one is held back by health issues.

    We as a party must reject the myth of the need for our government to balance the budget and that we have to state how the government will increase taxation to fund the public spending the UK needs for it to become a liberal society. Too many in leading positions in the party still hold these views which are holding us back.

  • Peter Martin 9th Jan '21 - 5:07am


    “Driving, assembly, call centre, warehouse jobs – all gone to robots, AI and countries with cheaper workforces. All this is brilliant, wonderful news for poverty and for jobs – there will be more, better and better paid jobs than ever before.”

    Possibly but you have this the wrong way around. Automation, and the use of robots is just another example, doesn’t happen because the capitalists want to provide higher paid jobs for their workers, It happens because it is cheaper to put in a machine than employ someone to do the work.

    In other words it is high wages that leads to automation rather the other way around. But if wages fall then jobs that were thought to have disappeared will return. So we now see the increasing employment of labour in the household. The return of what used to be termed servants. There is no need to have cars washed by hand but we now see that service offered on many garage forecourts.

    The use of labour in agriculture fell steadily until the late 20th century as workers were replaced by machines. But when a new source of cheap labour became available……

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Jan '21 - 9:52am

    Yes. certainly there will be jobs, though often not the jobs most graduates want. We see it already – well educated people serving at the supermarket tills, told, when they ask for advice on fields where there are shortages, that they could be airline pilots or nurses (actual example told me!). The proposed Commission should consider what policies can be developed to encourage provision of jobs, worthwhile sustainable jobs, not in the gig economy where employers get out of providing benefits by encouraging people to be independent contractors. People having to scrape by by taking zero-hours contract jobs where they can can’t escape the threat of poverty.

  • John Marriott 9th Jan '21 - 10:00am

    @Peter Martin
    As Reagan might have said, had you been Walter Mondale; “There you go again, annoying my LDV associates”. I admire your chutzpah and your ability to throw a firework into the room and then walk away. We never did get to the bottom of your critique of the Weimar Republic, or why you hate the “French” cheeses your better half insists on keeping in your fridge (believe me, once opened, that’s the ONLY place for them, other than the waste bin!). Oh, and then there’s your failure to substantiate your recent assertion on another thread about inflation ante and post 1970, which I attempted to correct.

    So, here goes on another of your ‘theories’, namely automation. Sure, there IS no need to have cars washed by hand as automated car washes have been around for years. If you’re not bothered about the odd scratch or mangled windscreen wiper, or, like my sadly departed neighbour, who seemed to send the whole of Sunday washing and cleaning his and his wife’s cars, possibly, as my wife once observed, to absolve himself of any other domestic chores on that day of rest, then, by all means, let a robot do it. However, if something is precious, then give me a human being every time, wherever they come from, although how long that conveyer belt continues to operate is anyone’s guess.

    The same may ultimately apply to agriculture. The University of Lincoln, in collaboration with Siemens U.K., continues to develop robots to pick fruit and veg, of which we have rather a lot in our county, which is just as well. I don’t think, that, unless you regard cauliflowers and carrots as sentient beings, you will not be that bothered about how they are harvested. However, if you see a driverless car coming towards you, you might get a bit apprehensive!

    I’ve reread some of ‘Michael 1’s’ comments to which you appear to take exception. Now I know that he tends to be quite serious, loquacious and often uses statistics, like the drunkard is said to use a lamppost, for support rather than illumination. However, he can, unlike you, occasionally lapse into irony, even humour, of which, I think, that remark of his you quoted, is an example. Mind you, I could be wrong, which, unlike yourself, I often am!

  • Peter Martin 9th Jan '21 - 10:43am

    @ John Marriott,

    My critique of the Weimar Republic is best explained in that it produced the result it did. If they hadn’t had such a near perfect system of proportional representation it would likely have been a different outcome. Having said that, the vindictive behaviour of the Western Allies, and particularly the French, in trying to get blood out of a stone was a huge factor too. The French occupation of the Ruhr in the the early 20s was a highly counterproductive step.

    There are some French cheeses I don’t like, they are probably an acquired taste, but on the whole I do like French cuisine – but that doesn’t affect my attitude to the EU. The economic problems the EU faces are largely due to a lack of understanding by German and Dutch voters of what they were letting themselves in for with the introduction of a single currency. It does mean they do have to be comfortable with the concept of fiscal transfers. ie Putting their hands in their pockets to spend some money!

    Katharine and Michael BG,

    Good Luck in getting your resolution discussed. You’ll have some opposition from those who want Liberalism to mean “freedom to” rather than “freedom from”. I thought that was an interesting point that emerged on another thread. I hadn’t quite thought of it in those terms before but I’m definitely a “freedom from” person.

    I’m all for robots doing a bit of spade work. There are always more jobs to do in my garden than I seem to get around to doing myself, so I’d be quite happy to tell my wife that it’s all that robot’s fault if they don’t get done!

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Jan '21 - 2:45pm

    Katerina. thank you for your comment. I am hopeful that people have become a little bit kinder and more helpful to each other in this country as a result of the shared troubles of the Virus. But I think the Ipsos Mori research you quote is still valid in its finding of the greater materialism, competitiveness and individualism in the country compared with some others (such as the Nordic countries, I suppose). I think these problems can be tackled if we take the Lib Dem approach of there needing to be greater fairness in this country. The divides are too great, the inequality too striking, and we surely need Lib Dem policies such as the taxation of wealth as well as income. I hope if the Commission we recommend is established, it will certainly consider the policies that are needed regarding taxation as well as increased welfare benefits.

  • Helen Dudden 9th Jan '21 - 3:01pm

    I wonder, if retired teaching staff could help those without the necessary help at home. There used to be grandparents and parents who would help with listening to children read.
    Since the lockdown, life has become more difficult if you live alone. I had one phone call asking if I was alright. It’s not healthy to be without human contact and I fully understand how those living in care homes must have felt. The Government criteria for deliveries, was heart and lung disease, visually impaired people were considered not viable shopping alone, they couldn’t self distance.
    Personally, I’ve witnessed to the failings towards disabled people.
    There was some volunteers, but of course, they were restricted in what they could do.

  • John Marriott 9th Jan '21 - 3:48pm

    @Peter Martin
    I’ll revert to my former rôle of schoolmaster in responding.

    Firstly your essay on the Weimar Republic. Your introduction was satisfactory but you failed to mention the withdrawal of US credit following the Wall Street Crash, or the refusal of your beloved socialists to take part in government thereafter. 6 out of 10.

    Secondly, French cheeses. Your inability to spot when someone is pulling your leg and attempting to answer another question, despite your undoubted knowledge = 3 out 10.

    Finally, U.K. Inflation before and after 1970. No reply= 0 out of 10.

  • neil sandison 9th Jan '21 - 3:57pm

    We so need to build a Beveridge 2 member alliance group there are so many good suggestions here and such understanding of the need for an over-arching policy to pull all the threads together very much in the spirit of Beveridge . Can we persuade the Social Liberal Forum to back this motion its seems to be up their street any contacts in that direction ? .

  • John Marriott 9th Jan '21 - 4:08pm

    @Peter Martin
    In case you have forgotten, #3 refers to your comment on 2 January to ‘Martin’ at the end of the 99 comment thread on Caron’s 29 December article on the EU Trade Deal, where you seem to lay the blame for our economic decline, by inference, on our joining the EEC in 1973. I attempted to counter your argument, particularly about inflation, from my own personal experience at the time; but, as far as I could see, it was ignored. If you can find what you wrote and wish finally to respond, might I suggest that you read what I wrote first?

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Jan '21 - 5:25pm

    Neil Sandison. Hi, Neil, your last comment made me laugh because I am actually on the Council of the Social Liberal Forum, one of 20 people elected last summer, and I have been trying for several weeks to get them to support the ideas of the motion. They allowed me to write an article on Beveridge-2 Plan for their website, and a talk is planned for February by Dr Pat Thane, a professor with just the same views as Michael BG and I hold on this, though interestingly she is a Labour party member. (This seems to be a bit held up because they want a second speaker for the same evening event.) But the last Council meeting disappointingly avoided giving any commitment to the Beveridge-2 Plan idea, and no more than half a dozen members have said they support the motion. I think this may be because SLF has been more of a publishing house than a campaigning organisation, but as everyone reading this thread will realise, I believe, as does Michael, that this year beginning a campaign for the Plan is very much needed.

    I really like your idea, Neil, of a Beveridge-2 alliance group to press the cause. Certainly the comments here in support of the ideas are heartening. I have taken your advice about spreading this on social media, by asking the help this morning of my local friend who has young children and uses Facebook constantly, and together we enabled my posting a comment on the Lib Dem Campaigners group Facebook page. So perhaps that is a start. Thank you for your support and your useful prompts!

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Jan '21 - 9:38pm

    Helen Dudden. Thank you for your posts, Helen. It’s been useful to read your experiences of the difficulties faced by people with disabilities, already being suffered but made worse by the Virus conditions, and at the same time gathering that you are still active in trying to help others yourself. I think and hope that Liberal Democrats are known for our active citizenship and attempts to help others, both in the local community and nationally. But I was sorry to gather that life has become much more difficult for you during the lockdowns, and I hope that local volunteers will call you again and help with supplies. Our Leader is setting the example which hopefully your local Lib Dems will follow. Very best wishes in these difficult few weeks.

    Peter Martin. Thanks for your good wishes on the acceptance for debate of our motion on the Beveridge-2 Plan and Social Contract, Peter. There are certainly many ill circumstances beyond the Virus for us to want active campaigning to change, to gain freedom for everyone to have the chance to live secure and fulfilled lives. It’s some small step forward that people’s ‘wellbeing’ is now recognised by the government as an economic goal.

  • Helen Dudden 10th Jan '21 - 7:57am

    Katharine Pindar. Thank you for your comments. I have been in contact with Tim Ball in Bath on the subject of Social Housing and Power Wheelchair users. Tim is always willing to listen. Power Wheelchairs, are considered a fire hazard. After the fire in London, that was caused by the cladding, there was a knee jerk reaction. It’s almost impossible to find suitable housing. I’ve since contacted Scope, Disability UK and another Housing Association, Habinteg who do house those in Power Wheelchairs. In the private sector, even more difficult for specialist housing.
    I do like family issues and unlike my local MP, I feel it’s more important that children do not go to bed, hungry, or cold.
    It would be a very good idea if we have set guidelines on a better society, I’m always willing to accept, I can do better.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Jan '21 - 11:49am

    Helen, I hope your own campaign to have more accommodation provided for wheelchair users is successful. I remember the struggle a young acquaintance of mine confined to a wheelchair had to get out of hospital temporary accommodation (in Cornwall) and find an adapted flat to live in. The housing provision the Commission should be proposing in the Beveridge-2 Plan should include all kinds of accommodation. I believe they should surely consider the costs and security of tenure for private renters, and I think also limiting the increase of charges for leasehold properties, now that housing costs are clearly contributing to increasing poverty.

  • The government restored the Local Housing Allowance to the 20th percentile and increased Universal Credit by £1000 a year because of the Coronavirus. However, those affected by the Benefit Cap don’t receive these extra funds. For those living outside London the Benefit Cap is £20,000 a year. Therefore if an unemployed couple with two children lived in my area last year they would have been entitled to £9,998.56 for their rent and received £12,091.68 Universal Credit, making £22,090.24. This year it should be £10,298.60 for rent and £13,333.44 Universal Credit making £23,632.04. However, for both years their benefit would be capped at £20,000. They received £2090.24 less than their entitlement last year and will receive £3,632.04 less this year. I don’t understand why the government hasn’t increased the Benefit Cap at least by the increase in entitlement.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Jan '21 - 10:56am

    Thank you, Michael. The ‘small’ unfairness of the benefit cap goes on. It looks small to the government but it is not so for families struggling to avoid poverty. We Liberal Democrats have to keep campaigning to change things for the minorities left out, the micro-economic situation as it were as well as the macro- economics. So it is that we point out the people whose business or work has failed to meet government criteria for financial support in this time of the Corona virus. The revived Social Contract that we want a Beveridge-2 Plan to renew will come into being when the needs of ALL our citizens are taken into account by the government, and we should surely lead the campaign for that to happen.

  • Katharine Pindar 12th Jan '21 - 10:07am

    Councillors from two northern towns have now been in touch with me, wanting to spread the word about the Beveridge-2 plan in their local councils. Carrying the campaign on in members’ local areas is a great idea, which we will hope to further, so thanks to the two pioneers for this.

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Jan '21 - 11:16am

    ‘More than a third of the UK’s poorest families have seen their already tight incomes squeezed during the pandemic because they had had to spend more on food, gas, electricity and home schooling’, states a report from the Resolution Foundation as printed in yesterday’s Guardian. The study found that while household spending in the UK generally dropped and savings rose in the first months of the pandemic, many low-income families saw living costs surge.

    That must still be going on, and if food prices rise because imported food costs more because of the paperwork and bureaucracy now necessary at the Channel ports, again that is going to affect poorer families most. The need for a Beveridge-2 Plan and Social Contract, impressing on the government that they have to do more for the poor, including cash grants for welfare recipients falling into debt through the universal credit bad practices and more finance for local councils to provide saving services, grows ever greater.

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