Author Archives: barry_admin

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Leonard Cheshire Disability’s campaign

I have been contacted by many constituents about Leonard Cheshire Disability’s campaign to support more disabled people in the next Parliament. I am more than happy to support the charity’s pledge and have now signed my name to the pledge.

Liberal Democrats believe that no matter who you are, where you come from and what your circumstances, no one should be denied the opportunity to fulfil their potential. In order to build a fairer society, we must break down the unfair divisions in our society and in government again, Liberal Democrats will ensure that disabled people get the support and help they need.

The Leonard Cheshire pledge address two key issues, both of which the Liberal Democrats have long history of supporting and will continue to be strong advocates for.

  • The right level of social care is made available 

Our manifesto has made several commitments to support and increase disability support, one of which will be increasing NHS funding. There is no doubt that our NHS is in crisis and we need to put better measures in place to support those most at need. Our pledge for a 1p tax rise on Income Tax would raise an additional £6 billion a year which would be ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services. Specifically we have allocated £2 billion for social care.

We will also:

  • Bring together NHS and social care into one seamless service – pooling budgets in every area by 2020 and developing integrated care organisations. We would make provisions for personal budgets so that people can design services for their own individual needs, which will help to combat the issues surrounding loneliness and isolation
  • Establish a cross-party health and social care convention, bringing together stakeholders from all political parties, patients groups, the public and professionals from within the health and social care system to carry out a comprehensive review of the longer-term sustainability of the health and social care finances and workforce, and the practicalities of greater integration.
  • All disabled people who want to work are supported to gain meaningful employment.

We will seek to expand Access to Work, a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work.

An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support to help disabled people:

  • Start working
  • Stay in work
  • Move into self-employment or start a business.

Liberal Democrats also recognise that lack of access to public transport can be a huge barrier to work. That is why we will also continue Access for All, a programme aimed at improving disabled access on public transport.

The Liberal Democrats have a long history of working to raise awareness and understanding of disability across the country. We want to ensure that people living with disabilities are given the fair and just treatment they deserve.

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A Manifesto for Social Work

A number of people have been contacting me regarding the Manifesto for Social Work.

Liberal Democrats believe social workers offer invaluable services and will continue to support these services and work to tackle the issues that they help people overcome.

Balancing the books on the backs of the poor and disabled, and demonising people who claim benefits, is neither acceptable nor responsible. It is more effective to tackle the causes of the benefits bill – low pay, high rents, unemployment and ill-health. That’s why Liberal Democrats will reverse unfair Conservative policies like reducing support for younger people and cutting the benefits of people not fit for work. We will reinstate the legally binding poverty targets of the Child Poverty Act. We will also scrap the discredited Work Capability Assessment and replace it with a new system, run by local authorities according to national rules, including a ‘real world’ test that is based on the local labour market. And we will end the freeze on benefits and uprate working-age benefits at least in line with inflation.

Unemployment isn’t just an economic challenge – it’s a personal problem, and government must do everything it can to help those who can work find a job and provide for themselves and their family. Liberal Democrats will separate employment support from benefits administration – making Job Centres places of training and support into work. We will take 13,000 children out of poverty by letting both parents earn before their Universal Credit is cut, and also reverse cuts to the Family Element. We will also raise awareness of, and seek to expand, Access to Work, which supports people with disabilities in work and improve links between Job Centres and Work Programme providers and the local NHS to ensure all those in receipt of health-related benefits are getting the care and support to which they are entitled.

Liberal Democrats will end the scandal of rough sleeping by increasing support for homelessness prevention and adequately funding age-appropriate emergency accommodation and supported housing, while ensuring that all local authorities have at least one provider of the Housing First model of provision for long term, entrenched homeless people. We will also end the Voluntary Right to Buy pilots that sell off Housing Association homes and the associated high value asset levy. As well as this, we will lift the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of Housing Associations so that they can build council and social housing and scrap exemptions on smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes, and strengthen the hand of local government to prevent large developers reneging on their commitments.

Liberal Democrats will invest in our health and care systems so that they can keep delivering for generations to come. The NHS and social care services are now in a state of crisis. The Conservatives have left them chronically under-funded, while need continues to grow and patient care suffers. Social care is facing a funding blackhole of £2 billion this year alone and more than a million older people are missing out on the care that they need. Only Liberal Democrats will make the case for increasing tax to guarantee the future of public health and care services. We will put a penny in the pound on income tax to give the NHS and care services an extra £6 billion, with approximately £2 billion of this ringfenced for social care and £1 billion for mental health services.

We will continue to promote and invest in the Frontline programme to fast-track exceptional graduates into children’s social work, as well as the Think Ahead scheme aimed at encouraging high- achieving graduates to pursue a career in mental health social work. As well as this, we will continue to roll out access and waiting time standards for children, young people and adults. This will include a guarantee that people will not wait more than six weeks for therapy for depression or anxiety, and no young person will wait more than two weeks for treatment when they experience a first episode of psychosis.

Liberal Democrats believe that we should all be free from an overreaching state and that the individual freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act are central to a free and democratic society. Liberal Democrats will continue to defend human rights: we will vote against any attempts to scrap the Human Rights Act or withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and we will strengthen the UK’s commitment to international human rights law. We will develop a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities, and review the Equality and Human Rights Commission to determine whether it is effectively fulfilling its role and whether its funding is adequate.

I am therefore happy to support British Association of Social Workers (BASW) ‘A Manifesto for Social Work’, which you can view here:  #vote4sw

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Dementia Awareness

A number of people have been contacting me regarding dementia.

Liberal Democrats are very proud of what we achieved for mental health while in Coalition Government, but recognise that there is still a long way to go. We will continue to fight to tackle dementia.

When we were in Coalition Government, spending on dementia research more than doubled, in line with Liberal Democrats’ 2010 manifesto pledge. It was also during Coalition that Health Minister Norman Lamb MP led on the introduction of the Care Act, part of which came into force in April 2015. The remaining parts of the act, which were due to come into force in April 2016, have been delayed by the Tory Government until April 2020.

Liberal Democrats will continue this record of delivery, investing in our health and care systems so that they can keep delivering for generations to come. The NHS and social care services are now in a state of crisis. The Conservatives have left them chronically under-funded, while need continues to grow and patient care suffers. Social care is facing a funding blackhole of £2 billion this year alone and more than a million older people are missing out on the care that they need. Only Liberal Democrats will make the case for increasing tax to guarantee the future of public health and care services. We will put a penny in the pound on income tax to give the NHS and care services an extra £6 billion, with approximately £2 billion of this ringfenced for social care and £1 billion for mental health services.

Liberal Democrats will take a host of other steps to transform mental health care and support.

These steps include implementing the recommendations in the strategy published under the Coalition, called Achieving Better Access to Mental Health Services by 2020; increasing access to clinically and cost-effective talking therapies so hundreds of thousands more people can get this support and continuing to roll out access and waiting time standards. We will continue to fight to end the historic inequality between physical and mental health.

As a country, we are living longer – but that means more people are living with conditions like dementia who need help to live with dignity and the maximum degree of independence. We must set the highest standards in care, abolishing the artificial boundaries that prevent health and social care services working together. Liberal Democrats will ensure health and care services are delivered in a more integrated way and work to expand personal budgets, making them more accessible.

Carers are the unsung heroes of our health system and we will do more to help them. Liberal Democrats will finish the job of implementing a cap on the cost of social care and revise the Carers’ Allowance so that it is fairer and recognises the efforts of carers across the country. We will also raise the amount people can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £116 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify. Additionally, we will give the NHS a legal duty to identify carers and develop a Carer’s Passport scheme to inform carers of their NHS rights, such as flexible visiting hours and access to support.

Liberal Democrats are clear that our national healthcare system must provide high quality care to all – across both mental and physical health. If elected as your MP, I will ensure that I continue Liberal Democrats’ work to dramatically improve our health care services so that we can continue to fight dementia together.

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Change Britain’s Future

There’s a reason why the Lib Dem manifesto for this general election is called Change Britain’s Future. It’s not because we’re ashamed by the past: some of the greatest achievements in this country’s history are the result of the Lib Dems and our predecessors, the Liberal Party.

The Liberal government of 1906-1914 laid the template of the welfare state that we have today:
  • Free school meals
  • Free education
  • Free medical treatment for children
  • The old-age pension
  • National health insurance

And, of course, despite the Labour party’s best attempts to rewrite history, the NHS was the brainchild of Liberal economist William Beveridge.

In 2017, Labour and the Tories are contesting an old-fashioned election. Old-fashioned, in that they want to promote an election with just two choices: Labour or the Tories – both promoting policies that would return this country to the past.

Labour’s policies mirror those they had in the 1970s. They were hard times for everyone. Workers didn’t have rights. The unions called the shots and the workers had very little say in what they did. Inflation raged out of control; and when Labour had finished spending everyone else’s money, they ran with the begging bowl to the IMF.

The Tories, on the other hand, want to return us to the 1980s – when privilege and good fortune made the rich richer, while the weak and the poor were considered nothing more than a blight on society.

Neither of these positions is acceptable. Britain deserves better.

The Lib Dems are proud of our history. Because we dared to think the unthinkable. In 1909 our reforms were so shocking to the establishment that the House of Lords rejected our budget. In 2017 those same Liberal reforms are the backbone of our welfare state.

We look to the future because we accept that there are issues in society and these need to be addressed by forward-thinking policies. Not by burying our heads in the sand and trying to turn the clock back.

On the 8th June, this country has a real choice: to recreate past failures with Labour and the Tories. Or to build a positive future, that addresses the problems of today with solutions that will last another century by supporting the Liberal Democrats.

Change Britain’s Future.

Vote LIB DEM on 8 June.

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Compassion in World Farming

Many people have been writing to me regarding Compassion in World Farming’s campaign survey. Liberal Democrats believe in the highest standards of animal welfare and will continue to fight for these.

Despite an EU-wide ban on battery cages for hens coming into force in 2012, in the UK many hens are still kept in cages that do not give them enough space. We will bring in a ban on all caged hens to ensure that hens have sufficient space and a good quality of life. We will also introduce stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years.

Liberal Democrats will ensure that future trade deals require high safety, environmental and animal welfare standards for food imports, including clear and unambiguous country of origin labelling for meat and dairy products. We will also introduce a National Food Strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food.

We will continue our long campaign to reform agricultural subsidies – rebalancing away from direct subsidy and refocusing support towards the public goods that come from effective land management including countryside protection, flood prevention, food production, and climate change mitigation. This would ensure that smaller farms are protected and move support away from large landowners, whilst delivering a more localised agricultural policy. Liberal Democrats will continue to improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture by updating farm animal welfare codes and promoting the responsible stewardship of antibiotic drugs.

We will expand renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions, cutting dependence on fossil fuel imports and generating more jobs and prosperity. As part of this, we will support the Paris agreement by ensuring the UK meets its own climate commitments and plays a leadership role in international efforts to combat climate change.

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Facts matter

The Liberal Democrats have always valued honesty and conveying a true account of us and our vision to the British people. Rebuilding trust is a crucial challenge for today’s politicians, and all politicians are responsible for ensuring that they do their utmost to deserve the trust of their voters.

A free and reliable press scrutinising and holding politicians to account is also essential for a healthy democracy. Fake news is a real problem, causing people to mistrust politicians and the media.

People don’t know what to believe, and end up both believing fake stories and mistrusting true ones. This is another challenge that we need to take seriously, and address.

The Liberal Democrats are proud of our commitment to presenting evidence based policy, and have a rigid process for the drafting, scrutiny, and approval of our party’s policies.

That is why I am proud to support CILIP’s campaign, and commit to supporting a facts-based political climate in Britain.

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Simultaneous policy campaign (Simpol)

Many people have been writing to me about the simultaneous policy campaign (Simpol). As a committed internationalist I recognise the benefits of working across borders to solve global problems, which is why I am happy to support the Simpol campaign.

In a more globalised, interdependent world, freedom for individuals is not best protected solely by the nation state. So many of the issues we face such as climate change, terrorism, tax avoidance and evasion and international crime do not respect national borders. That’s why it is imperative that we work with other countries to tackle these global issues in a united way. Doing so at different paces runs the risk of disadvantaging first movers. I do not want the UK to be held back by acting ahead of the curve.

That is why, the Liberal Democrats believe it is vital for Britain to continue to work actively and constructively with our allies and partners in the European Union, Commonwealth, UN and NATO to engage with and develop policy responses that promote liberal internationalism and an international rules-based system.

We are strong and passionate supporters of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. The principle that underpins the Sustainable Development Goals is ‘leave no-one behind’, which is consistent with our values as a party and also our international development priorities, such as protecting and empowering the most vulnerable in society – women, children, minorities and disabled people. Liberal Democrats want the SDGs to apply to all economies, big and small, to build upon the success of the MDGs. It will only be through cross-border cooperation that we can approach issues such as ending FGM within a generation.

I was proud that when in Coalition Government, it was Liberal Democrat Ministers that played a fundamental role in promoting international cooperation, human rights and international law around the world. This included a Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary playing a pivotal role in securing an ambitious EU climate change deal to reduce our greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030, which highlighted our commitment to working in unison across national borders to address the issues we face.

As the world becomes more globalised and interdependent nation states cannot fully protect individuals. It is in the interests of all countries to create a system of international law and governance at the global level.

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Refugees Welcome Pledge

Many people have contacted me about the refugee crisis and my party’s position on helping those seeking safety from war and persecution.

I share the deep concern about the refugee crisis in Europe that we have witnessed in recent years, which has stemmed principally from the ongoing conflict in Syria and also from further instability in the surrounding region.

This Conservative Party’s response to the refugee crisis has not just been unsatisfactory, it has been shameful. The Liberal Democrats have always opposed the Conservatives mealy-mouthed approach to the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. To put this into perspective, the Government’s 20,000 refugee target is equivalent to around 0.4% of registered Syrian refugees in the region.

Under the Theresa May, the Conservatives have also u-turned on two previous pledges, one to take more refugees from Syria and another to help abandoned child refugees. I am proud that the Liberal Democrats are a party that welcomes refugees and accepts its responsibilities.

In our manifesto, the Liberal Democrats have set out a plan to take 50,000 refugees over five years from Syria in the next parliament, as well as reopening the Dubs programme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children stranded in Europe, and working with international partners to create safe and legal routes.

The Liberal Democrats will not let the refugee crisis slip from the agenda. The Liberal Democrats have always been an internationalist party and we will do our upmost to counter the dangerous nationalist and isolationist arguments that have been put forward on this issue. It is critical that the UK works with our neighbours, so that we may feed into the decision making process and deliver a united response to the refugee crisis here in Europe.

The Conservatives’ total reluctance to do so is not only damaging our reputation, it is limiting the ability to find a solution and extending the suffering of those who are making these desperate journeys.

I am more than happy to sign the Refugees Welcome Pledge. I believe this commitment is extremely important in outlining the support candidates should give to welcoming people forced to flee war and persecution and helping them rebuild their lives.

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Rough sleeping

The Liberal Democrats are committed to doing more to prevent and tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in the UK. We can and must do more to get homeless people off our streets and into permanent accommodation.

As you are aware our manifesto for the 2017 General Election is still being written. However, the Liberal Democrats are calling for a cross-party, national strategy to end homelessness by 2020. We are extremely concerned about the impact of social rent reductions on funding for homeless shelters. We supported an amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill which sought to exempt ‘supported housing’ from these reductions. The Government failed to commit to the exemption, instead suspending the cuts for supported housing for one year only.

The number of people sleeping rough in the UK rose to 4,134 in 2016, which is a 16% increase from the previous year, which in turn saw a 12% increase from the year before. There are many more people who do not show up in these statistics – those who are staying with friends or family members, or living in squats – often in very insecure and inappropriate accommodation. Research by Crisis suggests about 62% of single homeless people are ‘hidden’ and may not show up in official figures. The hidden homeless are often subject to exploitation and risks to personal safety and health are high.

The average age of death for a street homeless person is only 47 years old. The needs of homeless people often extend beyond housing and include physical and mental health needs, and without a permanent address many find it hard to access services, benefits and practical opportunities to find a job, get advice or vote. We are aware that at least four in ten homeless people suffer from mental health problems. The Liberal Democrats believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and we have made it a priority to deliver equality between the two in the delivery of public services.

We believe that it is a national scandal that so many people are sleeping on the streets in 21st century Britain. By increasing support for homelessness prevention and ensuring proper funding for emergency accommodation, we can end rough sleeping across the country. The Liberal Democrats will also ensure that each local authority has at least one provider of Housing First services, to allow long-term homeless people to live independently in their own homes. The evidence suggests that supporting people and giving them long-term, stable places to stay is far more successful in tackling homelessness than constantly moving them to different temporary accommodation.

One of the main causes of homelessness is the ending of tenancies in the private rented sector. This sector is home for 18% of the population. Private sector rents have become untenably high in many parts of Britain, most notably in London, and many renters are now paying more than half their disposable income in rent. Moving from one rented home to another can be very expensive, with high lettings fees and large deposit requirements. The Liberal Democrats have an ambitious plan in place to tackle the housing crisis, with a view to not only to meet current demand, but also to tackle historic under-supply of homes.

Until we get to grips with the housing crisis and build the homes we need, we are not going to be able to end homelessness. We want to see bold action taken in the next Parliament on housing, and we are proud that the Liberal Democrats are leading the way with plans to do just that.

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Persecuted Christians

A number of people have contacted me regarding Christian’s being persecuted.

The Liberal Democrats believe that everyone should have the right to practice their religion without fear of torture, imprisonment or death. Our vision is to create a world that is open, tolerant and united and we will always speak for those who are oppressed and persecuted, no matter their background or faith. As a party of equality, we are clear that the persecution of anyone based on their beliefs is a violation of their human rights and an infringement of their freedom.

Our manifesto sets out several policies that demonstrate our commitment to democracy, liberal values, freedom of belief and minority rights. We will:

  • Appoint an ambassador-level champion for freedom of belief to drive British diplomatic efforts in this field, and campaign for the abolition of blasphemy, sedition, apostasy and criminal libel laws worldwide
  • Work with international partners to tackle violent extremism manifested by organisations like Daesh and Boko Haram
  • Work with our international partners to challenge some of the world’s most pressing issues including conflict and human rights

The UK is a leading global power and we must never turn a blind eye when religious minorities are being forced to denounce or hide their faith. We will challenge the efforts of extremist groups to end religious freedom and eliminate religious diversity. The Liberal Democrats will always speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and we stand with those of all faiths and none.