Scrapping free school lunches would waste £2,474,003 spent upgrading kitchens in Hertfordshire

Plans by Theresa May to axe free school lunches would waste the £2,474,003 invested in Hertfordshire to upgrade school kitchens, according to the Liberal Democrats.

It comes after figures revealed 34,532 children in Hertfordshire are set to lose out under the Conservative proposals.

When in government, the Liberal Democrats invested £160m upgrading school kitchen facilities to enable them to prepare hot lunches, including almost £2.5m in Herts.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Broxbourne commented:

“The Liberal Democrats in government invested £160m to give schools the kitchens they needed to ensure that no infant would go hungry, including £2.5m in Hertfordshire.

“This policy was extremely successful and guaranteed that local children received at least two of their five a day in their school lunch.

“But now Theresa May is threatening to throw that money down the drain.

“A Conservative measure designed to save money will waste money. Not only is it heartless, it is bad economics.

“I challenge my Conservative opponent to say whether, if elected, he would vote against their own party to ensure that children in Broxbourne receive a decent lunch.

“The Liberal Democrats will protect free school lunches for infants and ensure all primary school children can get a healthy, free lunch a day.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The government announced £150 million of funding to upgrade school facilities in 2015 (link)

An additional £10 million of funding was announced in 2015 to support the schools which most needed it (link)

The Liberal Democrats introduced free school meals when in government and have committed in their manifesto to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils (link, p.30)

The Broxbourne Liberal Democrats on Town Centres and Planning

Town Centre Regeneration
Waltham Cross town centre has long been neglected by the Conservatives in the borough. Each plan that has been created to improve the area has involved adding plants, trees and flowers and repaving certain areas, but have never dealt with underlying problems facing the area. Whilst improving the town centre visually is very important to make it a more pleasant place to spend time, residents of Waltham Cross deserve much more than window dressing.

The town centre lacks affordable parking, despite having a huge, barely used multi-storey car park and the parking charges are not redeemable in the town’s anchor shops such as Sainsbury’s. There are many unused units in the town which could provide a huge opportunity to create more jobs in Waltham Cross whilst making it a nicer place to shop, eat and live. The Liberal Democrats want to make changes to the town centre that benefit all. Local residents, market stall holders, small businesses and our long time anchors, like Fishpools, all deserve better.

Waltham Cross Town Centre, Image Courtesy of Herts Mercury

Local Planning
The Conservatives in Broxbourne have long treated the planning system locally as a way of allowing big developers to snatch up large plots of land and build small and inadequate homes. The Broxbourne Liberal democrats recognise the need for more housing in the borough, particularly as our young people are finding it increasingly difficult to live in the area they have grown up in, but new development must provide well designed, visually appealing homes that are fit for today. The Liberal Democrats in Broxbourne would also ensure that new development is sustainable, our local infrastructure such as roads, schools, hospitals and parks must be well maintained, fit for purpose and be able to keep up with changes in the built environment.

The Broxbourne Liberal Democrats also support making changes to local planning rules to allow home-owners to invest in their homes, community and future.

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.”

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].