A Manifesto for Social Work

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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: http://cdn.basw.co.uk/upload/basw_93101-7.pdf  #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.