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Vince Cable

"You can find out more, including how to keep in touch or join the Liberal Democrats, on this site."

Recent updates

  • Article: Mar 18, 2019

    The Liberal Democrats have today called for the Government to revoke Article 50 if no Brexit deal can be agreed a week before departure date.

    The proposal, debated and passed by delegates at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in York today, comes after a week of key Brexit votes in the House of Commons in which MPs again rejected Theresa May's deal, ruled out no-deal and voted to extend Article 50.

    Speaking after the debate, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP said:

    "It is absolutely clear that Brexit will hit jobs, the NHS and weaken our position in the world. No matter how someone voted in 2016, nobody voted for that.

    "People deserve better than this utter mess cooked up by the Tories. Liberal Democrats will not allow the UK to crash out of the EU. If that possibility comes close to becoming reality, we will argue for Brexit to be cancelled, by revoking Article 50.

    "Ultimately, however, what started with democracy should end with democracy. That is why the Liberal Democrats have led the campaign to give the people the final say on Brexit, including the option to stay in the EU."

  • Article: Mar 18, 2019

    Scottish Liberal Democrat Economy and Fair Work spokesperson Katy Gordon has today called for all internships or work placements that last for more than four weeks to be treated as employment, requiring a contract and the National Minimum Wage.

    At the Liberal Democrat spring conference in York today the party debated a policy motion put forward by Young Liberals calling for the measures, with Ms Gordon speaking in favour.

  • Article: Mar 17, 2019

    Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP today demanded new investment in mental health care in prisons after the party published "devastating" new statistics showing self-harm incidents increased by 43% last year.

    The number of self-harm incidents in prisons spiralled from 532 in 2017, to 762 in 2018. These incidents are recorded under burns, cuts, attempted suicide, ligature, overdoses and swallowing items.

  • Article: Mar 16, 2019

    In her first keynote speech as Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson, Christine Jardine will today outline her priorities to her party's conference in York and demand the Conservative Government stop cutting welfare payments, end the freeze on working-age benefits and abandon the two child benefit cap.

  • Article: Mar 15, 2019

    Scottish Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Rebecca Bell spent this morning supporting young people from schools across Edinburgh who were protesting climate change outside the Scottish Parliament. Speaking after the rally she commented:

    "I'm delighted to see thousands of young people politically engaged and protesting climate change. The power to curb global warming is in our hands now. What we've done so far simply does not go far enough, fast enough.

  • Article: Mar 14, 2019

    Edinburgh West MP, Christine Jardine, has today slammed the Conservative Government for refusing to act to stop the gender price gap.

    Speaking in Parliament today, the Lib Dem MP asked Victoria Atkins, Minister for Women and Equalities, if the Government would back her Bill to ensure that women cannot be charged more than men purely on the basis of an item's marketing. Currently women are paying more than men for basic products 40% of the time.

  • Article: Mar 13, 2019

    In his Spring Statement today (Wednesday 13th March 2019) the Chancellor did not make any commitments to the funding of social care.

    Responding to the Statement, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

    "Another opportunity has passed and once again the Government has failed to deliver the funding for social care services that unpaid carers and those they support desperately need.

    "Without immediate investment in care services - as well as plans for sustainable long term funding - the pressure on families providing unpaid care is only going to increase. We know that carers are already under a lot of strain, with the vast majority of (72%) reporting poor mental health and two in five unable to take a break from their caring role in the last year.

    "Carer's Allowance, the main benefit for people caring unpaid for more than 35 hours a week, is still the lowest benefit of its kind and those who rely on this support face a never-ending struggle to make ends meet, some forgoing essentials such as food and heating. It's high time the Government made it fairer for carers and raised Carer's Allowance throughout the UK - as has already been done in Scotland.

    "The Government's upcoming Spending Review must ensure better financial support for carers and enable them to have a break. Carers have already waited over two years for the Government's Green Paper on social care so it is imperative that this too has their huge contribution to our society and the economy - worth £132 billion a year - at its heart."

  • Article: Mar 13, 2019
    Hft is calling on Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to match words with actions and provide an emergency cash injection for the social care sector in his Spring Statement, to help providers address the ongoing recruitment crisis in the sector.

    Last month, the charity published its annual Sector Pulse Check, which provides a yearly snapshot of the financial health of the social care sector. The report warned that 80% of providers cited the "enforced low pay model" - where local authorities commission fees at the lowest wage level possible - as the biggest challenge for recruiting new staff. As a result, 63% of providers reported increases in agency fee spend, and that it was now a major financial pressure (a fifty percentage-point increase from the 2017/18 survey).

    Robert Longley-Cook, Chief Executive of Hft, commented:

    "The government was right to finally acknowledge that there is an ongoing recruitment crisis plaguing the social care sector. We welcome the fact that the government is highlighting that a career in social care can be a varied and fulfilling one.However, this does not solve the root of the problem. Cuts to local authority budgets, combined with an enforced low pay model of fee setting, have tied the hands of providers seeking to pay their staff a competitive wage. This has created a vicious circle of high staff turnover, leading to an increased dependency on agency staff, resulting in increased wage bills and a disruption of quality and continuity of care.

    Increased use of agency staff is a short-term fix to a long-term problem. As providers spend more on filling their rotas, they are unable to invest in the long-term future of our services, despite providers seeing increased demand across the sector.The national recruitment campaign only looks to address the desirability of a career in social care. However, for as long as social care is on an enforced low pay model, we will be unable to attract the highly motivated staff we need to deliver high-quality, person-centred support. We therefore call on the Chancellor to match the government's words with actions, and provide the sector with additional funding to help us invest in the future of services, and reward our hardworking staff for all that they do in supporting some of the most vulnerable adults in society."

    Since February 2016, Hft has run the It Doesn't' Add Up campaign to raise awareness of the funding pressures facing the social care sector. For more information, visit: www.hft.org.uk/shortfall

  • Article: Mar 13, 2019

    Disabled pensioners will no longer face "unnecessary" repeat assessments to continue receiving benefits, the work and pensions secretary has announced. From spring, 270,000 people in Britain will not have personal independence payments (PIPs) regularly reviewed.

    But a disability group said millions of younger people would "still be stuck in a failing system". Amber Rudd also plans to increase a government target for getting a million more disabled people into work by 2027.

    In a speech on last Tuesday to the disability charity Scope, Ms Rudd said her blind father's experience influenced her plans to "level the terrain" for disabled people. "My father became blind in 1981. For 36 years his blindness was a normal part of my family's life. Of my life," she said. "Disabled pensioners have paid into our system for their whole lives and deserve the full support of the state when they need it most."

    Under the current system, disabled people's benefits under the PIP system require regular reviews, annually or every few years, with less severe or temporary disabilities checked more frequently. Figures from October 2018 show there were approximately 28,000 pensioners claiming PIP in Scotland and 22,500 claims in Wales.

    The remaining 220,000 recipients were based in England, with the largest number of claims - 43,000 - in the North West. The result of the assessment determines the payments people receive to cope with the extra costs of living with a disability, such as mobility aids or adaptations in the home.

    Pensioners will only face checks every 10 years and may be able to fill in a form rather than seeing an assessor in person under the new system.

    In Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities has confirmed that 7,500 people will no longer have to be regularly reassessed following Ms Rudd's pledge.

    Disabled campaigners have criticised the PIP reviews for failing to take proper account of mental health conditions and for putting disabled people's independence at risk by cutting support. Ms Rudd said that she wants to "significantly improve" the support for disabled people from the Department for Work and Pensions. "The benefits system should be the ally of disabled people. It should protect them and ensure that the assistance the government provides arrives in the right place to those who need it most," she said.

    She also announced a small scale trial to test the feasibility of bringing together the PIP assessments and Work Capability Assessments into one, in order to create a more "joined-up" approach. The work capability assessment determines what benefits people receive if their disabilities or illnesses affect their ability to work. Ms Rudd also said she plans to review the government's target to get one million more disabled people in work by 2027make it "more ambititious"

    Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said 83% of people with multiple sclerosis who appeal against their PIP assessments are successful - and that demonstrates "how bad the current assessment process is. While it's good news that older disabled people will no longer have to go through unnecessary and stressful reassessments, millions of others will still be stuck in a failing system," she said. Ms Edwards said that merging the two forms of assessment without fixing their flaws would be like "harnessing two donkeys to a farm cart and expecting it to transform into a race chariot".

    Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive at disability equality charity Scope, said he welcomed the change to PIP assessments but said a "more radical overhaul" to the benefits system for disabled people was needed. "Disabled people also want to see action taken to scrap counterproductive benefit sanctions. They make it harder for disabled people to get into work."

  • Article: Mar 13, 2019

    It is one of the biggest domestic policy issues of our times - where should the balance be struck between the individual and the state's responsibility for paying for care in old age? A much-anticipated government policy paper for England has still not surfaced. Experts are calling it a "national scandal" with services in parts of the country near collapse and millions of vulnerable people deprived of the care and support they need.

    The document (known as a Green Paper) on the future of adult social care in England was first promised for the summer of 2017. Delays and postponements followed and despite official guidance that it would appear in 2018, the paper remained unfinished and under wraps in Whitehall.

    In January the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs he intended it to "happen before April". But April is not far off and there is no sign of imminent publication.

    Sources indicate that hopefully the paper will emerge during April. But with the Easter parliamentary holiday there are limited dates for a launch. The May local elections have thrown up another obstacle in the shape of "purdah" during campaigns. Traditionally, official policy announcements are not made in the weeks before polling day.

    The Brexit debates and votes have made it harder for ministers to focus on domestic issues like social care, let alone decide a date for a policy launch.

    The paper is a cross-government exercise and needs buy-in from Downing Street and the Treasury. There are thorny questions to be resolved and differences still to be ironed out. So don't hold your breath. It may yet be a while before the document sees the light of day.

    And this is causing increasing concern amongst both leaders in the social care sector and their counterparts in the NHS. A group of health 15 health organisations has now written to the Prime Minister calling for action. They note that it is unusual for one part of the public sector to call for more funding for another part. Led by the NHS Confederation, the group argues that "social care is on the brink of collapse" and that 1.4 million older people in need in England now receive no help. After a two year wait, they claim, it is time for the government to put things right.

    The Green Paper will not contain long-term funding plans for local authority provision of social care. They will come with the Treasury spending review which is due in the autumn. But the paper will address the question of an individual's responsibility for paying for care. Only those with assets below £23,250 receive local authority help with care costs. This includes the value of a house if the care is in a residential facility.

    Historically, this has left some families having to sell a house to cover the costs of looking after a parent in a care home. It is possible to defer these bills until after the parent's death but the property may need to be sold then to repay the local authority. One solution is to cap lifetime social care costs and this was government policy until 2017 when the idea was shelved.

    Matt Hancock, in a letter to the Prime Minister leaked to the Daily Telegraph, warned that plans for such a cap at around £100,000 could cost taxpayers billions of pounds and would only benefit a small number of better-off families. In an interview with LBC radio, Mr Hancock was asked if people would in future still have to sell their houses to fund social care.

    He described this as "an injustice" and dropped a strong hint that the current means-tested system was due for a major shake-up, with the burden spread across all taxpayers. The Health Secretary has already talked about ideas for new forms of levy or taxation to cover future social care costs.

    This could involve a state-backed insurance scheme which those in work are automatically enrolled into, along the lines of the workplace pension scheme introduced after government legislation in 2008. Opting out would be possible.

    Another possibility is higher National Insurance contributions, or a special levy, to be paid by the over 40s with the proceeds ring-fenced for social care.

    The latter idea was proposed by three Commons Select Committees so has the advantage of cross-party support. When it comes, the green paper will have a series of ideas and there will then be a consultation process. It will no doubt be a weighty and important document, but with questions rather than firm proposals.

    Those seeking answers and solutions to this vital domestic policy issue may have to wait a while yet. Scotland provides free personal care for the elderly. Wales has a weekly cap on home care and Northern Ireland has free care for over 75s at home.