Andy Graham on School Funding and Young People

As part of our campaign for the general election 2017 the Broxbourne Liberal Democrats asked Andy Graham, our candidate, to answer some questions about a wide variety off issues facing the residents of Broxbourne. Here Andy talks about Schooling and young people.

 

How you have found working in Broxbourne’s schools and your views on current funding levels?

As Executive director of Snap Theatre for 26 years working extensively in Hertfordshire Schools, including Goffs and Presdales in Broxbourne, with education projects that supported the needs of schools with one day residencies on Sex Education, Road Safety and literacy has made a huge impact reducing teenage pregnancy, raising standards and most of all keeping young people safe through awareness of the decisions they make in their lives and the consequences of their action.

Snap Theatre won the Prince Michael Award arising out of this work.

Funding in schools is under threat by the increase in class sizes and the overburdening on teachers to be constantly testing.. Funding levels in real terms has to be increased in order for teachers to be recruited and the professions status is recognised by taking off the cap on teachers pay and security of the pupil premium being retained to support those children who need the additional support is not squeezed by ever increasing demands on their budgets.

Education is the heart of children and young people-s future we must invest in it and support the teaching profession in doing what they know best and that is teach so that young people reach their maximum potential!
How being chair of the youth committee (and working with young people) helps you to understand the issues they are facing?

Youth forums and working with young people in youth clubs to this present time, talking to young people, listening to young people and being challenged by them have helped me realise that many young people are positive, and deserve better. The old institutions of local and national government often are so alienating that young people play less of an active role in decisions that affect them now and in the future. This must change through the need of political and social history taught in schools to help inform culture and identity together with the voting at 16 as recognition of their responsibility in the wider society. Use of technology needs a complete overhaul to ensure apps of introduced to ensure that the world of governments and the aspirations of young people are not neglected by a generation who currently govern and engage by out of date means of communication.

For more information about Andy please click the ‘candidates 2017’ above or send us an email at contact@broxlibdems.org.uk

Conservative plans will take lunches away from 34,532 children in HERTS

34,532 schoolchildren in Hertfordshire will lose out on free lunches, under plans announced in the Conservative manifesto.

Free school lunches for pupils from reception to Year 2 were introduced by the Liberal Democrats in government, but Theresa May now plans to scrap them. The changes would cost families an average extra £480 a year for every child.

The Liberal Democrats have called on Conservative candidate Charles Walker to make it clear whether or not he would vote for the plans.

The Conservatives are also proposing to make older people pay for social care costs from the value of their own homes when they die. This means on average, families in Broxbourne would expect to see 71.90% of the value of their home spent on care costs.

Liberal Democrat Andy Graham commented:

“This Conservative manifesto shows the nasty party is back.

“Margaret Thatcher was known as the milk snatcher, it seems Theresa May will go down as the lunch snatcher.

“She is cynically snatching meals away from thousands of children in Hertfordshire, while the elderly receiving care in their own home will face a ‘Personal Death Tax’ charged against their home.

“Charles Walker must now come clean over whether he will vote to take away free lunches from the children of hard-pressed families.

“The Liberal Democrats will offer a brighter future by extending free school meals to all primary schools.

“We will stand up to Theresa May’s cold, mean-spirited Britain, protecting those that need the most help and fighting for more funding for our schools and hospitals.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Figures on the number of children per school and local authority benefiting from universal infant free school meals can be found here. Universal free school meals for infant pupils (up to Year 2) were introduced by the Liberal Democrats in coalition government. Currently the government subsidises lunches for infants by £2.30 – these changes will mean removing £480 subsidy per child, per year.

Under Conservative proposals, for the first time, many people who receive care at home will have their home taken into account, to meet the costs when they die. This will apply to the almost half a million people who receive domiciliary care in the UK. Figures on the share of the average family home expected to be spent on social care costs can be found here, based on calculations provided by Royal London

Letter on Free School Meals

I would like to publicly ask the Conservative candidate at this election Charles Walker if they will vote in favour of denying kids in reception, year one and year two a hot school lunch if they are elected to the House of Commons on June 8th or if they will commit to the Liberal Democrat plan to extend free school meals to all kids at primary school?

The Conservative manifesto shows the nasty party is back. Theresa May wants to take away free school meals from kids in reception, year one and year two even though all the evidence shows that it helps kids academically.

Theresa May has made the wrong choice. By cruelly snatching away these hot meals tens of thousands of kids in Hertfordshire will lose out, and it will cost families £480 a year per kid. For a family with 2 kids that’s almost £1,000 a year, a betrayal of working families and breaks the promise they made only two years ago at the last election.

There is of course another way. A different choice. My party, the Liberal Democrats would introduce free school meals for all primary school children, so that the benefits to kids’ education currently limited to infants can be extended to all. That is a much better choice.

Liberal Democrats want to give all children a brighter future in a fairer Britain where people are decent to each other.

A message from Andy Graham and the Brox Lib Dems on Manchester

I am sure many have said words on the tragic events last night. All I will say is this: Let not the hatred of others affect our values of tolerance, respect, and acceptance of difference. Let’s double our efforts to find in our hearts understanding and above all love and sympathy to all those families who are suffering deeply at this time.
It is indeed a sad time but together we are stronger

-Andy Graham

The Broxbourne Liberal Democrats would like to echo Andy’s words and would like to pay our respects to those who lost their lives last night. Our thoughts are with their families and with anyone else affected by this awful incident. Please note that Andy Graham will not be attending the question and answer session at Goffs School tomorrow evening (24th May 2017) out of respect, but will be able to answer any questions you may have via our social media or email in due course.

Don’t let the Tories take you for granted

Disappointingly, there is little doubt that the Conservatives will win this election, or that Charles Walker, the Tory candidate, will once again be returned as MP for Broxbourne.  In each case, all that is really in question is the size of the majority.

So, why bother voting?  Every extra seat the Conservatives win, every extra percentage point in Charles Walker’s majority, every person who doesn’t vote at all – all these send a signal to the Tories that they can take the voters of this country, and particularly those in “safe” seats like Broxbourne, for granted.

Theresa May has already made it clear that she would rather govern with no meaningful opposition, and Charles Walker’s voting record (for example, consistently voting against slowing the rise in rail fares) is symptomatic of someone who does not have to worry about losing his seat.  Strong opposition is a vital part of our political system, helping ensure that voters are not forgotten between elections.  The Liberal Democrats are ready to provide that opposition, and set out their ideas for a better direction for our country.

Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote that says “I believe in a better vision for this country”.  Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote that says “I believe the best governments, and the best MPs, are properly held to account.”  Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote that says “I will not let the Conservatives take me for granted.”

Husting at Goffs School #GE2017 #LibDems #BroxLibDems

Next Wednesday 24th there will be a husting at Goffs School (Goff’s Ln, Cheshunt, Waltham Cross EN7 5QW) with Q&A. It is from 6 to 7pm and is open to the general public. You must register first rgr@goffs.herts.sch.uk as if your name is not on the list you won’t get in. Please attend and support Andy.

 

Update: Following Monday’s terror attack in Manchester and the decision to suspend all campaigning across the parties, tonight’s Q&A session has been cancelled.

NHS Hacking: Why Has it Got to This?

The Conservatives try to paint themselves as the party of law and order but crime has changed and they have failed to keep up. Instead of investing in the security of the systems that our public services rely on, they have chosen to extend surveillance systems instead.

Only the Liberal Democrats will stand up against mass surveillance, for cyber-security and a properly funded NHS and we have demanded an inquiry into why the Conservatives failed to support our cyber-security by cancelling a £5.5m deal with Microsoft.

Lib Dems to give £770 boost to 19,210 pensioners in Broxbourne

19,210 pensioners living in Broxbourne will receive at least an extra £772 per year under Liberal Democrat manifesto plans to protect the ‘triple lock’ for state pensions.

Thanks to the triple lock guarantee, secured by the Liberal Democrats when they were in government, the basic state pension has risen in each year by whichever is the higher of earnings, prices or a rate of 2.5%. However, the Conservatives have refused to guarantee whether the triple lock will continue, raising fears it could be scrapped.

The Liberal Democrats have committed today to keeping the triple lock, meaning the state pension would be worth at least £137.15 a week by 2021, up from £122.30 in 2017, or an extra £772 a year.

This would be paid for in part by restricting perks such as the winter fuel allowance so they are no longer paid to the wealthiest pensioners.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Nigel Quinton said:

“Protecting the triple lock will mean an extra £772 a year by 2021 for the 17,170 people receiving the state pension in this constituency.

”

“The Liberal Democrats are making a clear commitment to older people in Welwyn Hatfield, unlike the Conservatives who have repeatedly refused to give this guarantee.

”

“The triple lock has succeeded in lifting thousands of pensioners out of poverty, but many are still struggling to get by.

”

“An important test of a civilised society is the way in which it cares for the elderly. This commitment will ensure older people are able to meet their basic needs and that their living standards will be protected, especially with prices set to rise in the coming years.”

 

Notes to Editors


Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in August 2016, there were 19,210 people living in Broxbourne in receipt of the state pension (link)

The Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to keep the ‘triple lock’ protection for state pensions. All of those receiving the full state pension would enjoy a rise from £122.30 to at least £137.15 a week by 2021, the equivalent of an extra £772 a year.

The Liberal Democrats would also limit some non-pension benefits for the wealthiest pensioners. The Winter Fuel Payment would be withdrawn from those pensioners who pay tax at the higher rate (40%). The Liberal Democrats would retain the free bus pass for all pensioners.

The Conservatives have hinted strongly that they will drop the Triple Lock. Theresa May has refused top guarantee the triple lock when asked, and Conservative senior figures have spoken out against it (link)

Labour increased the State Pension by just 75p in 2000. Help the Aged described the 75p increase as “just unacceptable”.

Labour had 13 years to restore the earnings link to pensions which Margaret Thatcher severed in 1980. The Liberal Democrats restored the link to earnings within six weeks of getting into government.

Lib Dems penny for NHS would raise £126.6million extra for Hertfordshire

The Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign.
 The tax would raise an additional £126.6million for Hertfordshire, with £82million for the NHS and £44.6million for social care each year.

This is the party’s flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats manifesto will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services in their manifesto.

At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra 1p in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, an ITV poll found last October (link).

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Nigel Quinton said:



“Having attended today my first briefing as a new County Councillor it is clear just how much the additional funding for social care especially is needed. Right now in Hertfordshire we are seeing urgent operations being cancelled and the elderly being denied the care they need, and beds being blocked due to the lack of community and social care available.

”

The Liberal Demo crats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all, especially those who can afford it most, need to chip in a little more.

“A penny in the pound would allow us to invest in improving local NHS services and ensuring the elderly receive the care they deserve.

“This Conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded – and while the crisis gets worse they just don’t seem to care.

“We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more, without giving it the resources to do so.”

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:



“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.

“A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.

“But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term.”

7 Things the Lib Dems Put the Brakes On

The coalition government of 2010-2015 must have been a frustrating time for the Conservative party. While they managed to get many of their proposals through (raising university tuition fees, for example), their Liberal Democrat coalition partners blocked a number of others.

Mark Pack has put together a list of “21 extreme Tory policies the Lib Dems blocked“. However, that article was written in 2015, so here I’ve commented on seven areas where the Conservatives have finally got their own way. (OK, so technically its six that they’ve actually done, and one big one they’re still trying to get round to doing.)

 

1) The Snoopers’ Charter (aka the Investigatory Powers Act)

Described as providing “totalitarian-style surveillance powers – the most intrusive system of any democracy in history”, this law requires (amongst other things) that internet service providers to keep a record of your internet browsing history for 12 months, and share it with a host of government agencies if requested.

 

2) Ditching the Human Rights Act

This is the one which technically hasn’t happened yet (partly because of the need to sort out Brexit, and partly because of significant opposition), but it is still very much on the agenda. A major reason for getting rid of the Human Rights Act is the desire to get rid of the link between the European Court of Human Rights and British courts.

 

3) Removing help with housing costs for young people

Since 1 April 2017, 18- to 21-year-olds making new claims for universal credit have not been able to claim for the cost of housing (with certain exceptions). This change has less scope than that originally proposed (covering 16- to 24-year-olds), but has still raised serious concern from homelessness charities.

 

4) Cutting inheritance tax

In the first budget after the 2015 General Election, a £175,000 “family home allowance” was announced, in addition to the existing £325,000 allowance before 40% inheritance tax is payable. Married couples and civil partners can “pool” their allowance, so this means couples with a combined wealth of up to £1 million will no longer have to pay anything. Note that only around 3.5% of deaths were liable for inheritance tax in 2013-14, and so only the wealthiest will benefit from this change.

 

5) Requiring landlords nation-wide to carry out immigration checks on all new tenants and lodgers

Since 1 February 2016, landlords have been required to act as immigration enforcers, checking that anyone to whom they let is in the country lawfully. Landlords can receive penalties of up to £3000 for every adult without right to rent living in their property.

 

6) Renewing Trident

In July 2016, MPs voted to renew the UK’s Trident system of nuclear missiles, at an estimated cost of £31 billion. The Conservatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of renewal, and the Liberal Democrats and SNP voted against. Labour were split, with approximately three times as many voting for as against. Furthermore, Teresa May has said that she would, if necessary, “press the button” to use the nuclear weapons.

 

7) Cutting investment in green energy

Since its formation in 2012 the Green Investment Bank has provided £3.4 billion to 99 green energy projects.  There is no guarantee that the buyer will continue to use it to fund eco-friendly projects.

 

And finally…

For something more positive, take a look at this infographic, also by Mark Pack, showing what the Liberal Democrats achieved while in government.

 

References 
  1. Pack, M. 21 extreme Tory policies the Lib Dems blocked. [online] Mark Pack. Available at: http://www.markpack.org.uk/129190/what-the-lib-dems-have-stopped-the-tories-doing/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  2. Carlo, S. (2016). The Government just passed the most extreme surveillance law in history – say goodbye to your privacy. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/snoopers-charter-theresa-may-online-privacy-investigatory-powers-act-a7426461.html [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  3. Investigatory Powers Act 2016. (2016). [pdf] Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/25/pdfs/ukpga_20160025_en.pdf [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  4. The Week UK. (2017). Will the Human Rights Act be scrapped?. [online] Available at: http://www.theweek.co.uk/63635/will-the-human-rights-act-be-scrapped [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  5. Wilson, W., Keen, R. and Barton, C. (2017). Housing cost element of Universal Credit: withdrawing entitlement from 18-21 year olds. [online] Researchbriefings.parliament.uk. Available at: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06473 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  6. Inheritance Tax: main residence nil-rate band and the existing nil-rate band – GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inheritance-tax-main-residence-nil-rate-band-and-the-existing-nil-rate-band/inheritance-tax-main-residence-nil-rate-band-and-the-existing-nil-rate-band [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  7. Inheritance Tax Statistics 2013-14. (2016). p.7. [pdf] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/541725/IHTNationalStatisticsCommentary.pdf [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  8. Citizensadvice.org.uk. Immigration checks by landlords. [online] Available at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/renting-a-home/immigration-checks-by-landlords/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  9. BBC News. (2016). MPs vote to renew Trident weapons system – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36830923 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  10. Greeninvestmentbank.com. (2017). Our investments | UK Green Investment Bank. [online] Available at: http://www.greeninvestmentbank.com/our-investments/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  11. Pratley, N. (2017). Green Investment Bank sell-off: only time will tell how green it is | Nils Pratley. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/nils-pratley-on-finance/2017/apr/20/green-investment-bank-sell-off-only-time-will-tell-how-green-it-is [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].

Introducing Andy Graham, Broxbourne’s Lib Dem candidate for the General Election 2017

Andy Graham started his career as a teacher of French and Drama and then went on to run his own business, the internationally acclaimed Snap Theatre Company based in Hertfordshire which he ran for over 25 years pioneering theatre in education and winning the Prince Michael Award for Read Safety.. He has reached over 3.5 million children and young people with over 220 plays and educational projects touring the UK in theatres and schools.

He is also a writer of children-s books and has published plays including Sense and Sensibility (which also toured the USA,) The Borrowers and Maurice.

He set up a charity in 2005 to develop teacher training support in schools all over the world including Rwanda, Romania, Bangladesh, The Gambia and the UK.

Andy was chair of the Local Government Arts Forum between 1998 and 2003 and was a member of the Arts Council of GB during the same period

Andy has been elected a district councillor for 16 continuous years on East Herts District Council and 9 years as a town council becoming its Mayor in 1998/1999.

He has stood for parliament twice in the Clacton By Election 2014 and stood against David Cameron in 2015.

Andy is a strong advocate of ensuring in whatever walk of life but particularly in education, that has everyone has equal opportunity to reach their maximum potential.