Childcare will create a fairer society

September 2nd, 2014 by danielbarker
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Following on from reports that Liberal Democrats will roll out the free school meals policy to all primary school pupils, Nick Clegg writes in the Yorkshire Post that Liberal Democrats in government will prioritise childcare to allow parents and their children to achieve their ambitions. He says that social mobility cannot be fixed overnight, but that he is committed to ensuring young people from deprived backgrounds overcome the barriers to success which they face.

Making our tax system fairer

August 30th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted August 30, 2014

The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to introduce a trio of wealth taxes which will help to cut the deficit whilst ensuring fairness in our tax system.

Manifesto plans to increase taxes on the wealthiest will go alongside a pledge to further cut Income Tax and reduce National Insurance.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

“Great progress has been made in tackling the largest deficit since the Second World War, but there is still more work to be done.

“The Conservatives have indicated they will focus on spending cuts in the next Parliament to achieve the aim of eliminating the deficit, particularly through cuts to welfare which will hit the working age poor. That is not a fair approach.

“We will achieve the elimination of the deficit fairly with some reductions in public spending balanced with some tax rises on the wealthiest in society. We have always been clear that we believe those with the broadest shoulders should bear their fair share of the burden.”

The trio of wealth taxes include:

- Introducing a banded High Value Property Levy on residential properties worth over £2m

- Limit tax relief on pensions to a pot of £1m

- Maximising revenue from Capital Gains Tax by aligning rates more closely to Income Tax

By April next year, the Liberal Democrats will have delivered a £800 tax cut for millions of workers and plan to go further in increasing the personal tax allowance to £12,500.

Danny added:

“We believe this package of tax measures is another step in making our tax system fairer. Liberal Democrats believe these measures are the best way to create a stronger economy in the fairest way possible, creating opportunity for everyone.”

A rest from the blog

August 24th, 2014 by danielbarker
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I will be too busy to update this blog for the next few days, so won’t be uploading any new articles until probably Saturday 30th.
Thanks for your patience,
Dan Barker
Cllr for Short Heath

Safe standing

August 23rd, 2014 by danielbarker
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Football clubs in the top divisions will be allowed to introduce safe standing areas into their grounds, under manifesto plans unveiled today by the Liberal Democrats.

Safe standing already operates in domestic leagues across Europe, including Germany, Austria and Sweden and is backed by 92% of football fans and 70% of football clubs in the UK.

Under the plans, clubs in the Premier League and Championship would be allowed to work with their supporters to introduce standing areas, which provide better atmospheres and allow clubs to offer cheaper safe standing season tickets.

There are several options for safe standing areas. The most commonly used one, and the one most likely to be used in the UK, is ‘rail seating’, a system where a safety barrier and flip down seat is equipped on every other row or step, so the areas can be changed from seats to standing areas depending on the event requirements. Rail seats also mean that clubs playing in Europe, where UEFA require all seater stadiums, could convert to seating if required.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Culture, Media & Sport John Leech MP said:

“The Liberal Democrats believe football clubs should be allowed to introduce safe standing areas where there is a desire to do so. Safe standing is allowed in many other sports and we do not believe that the top level of football should be an exception.

“We are not calling for a return of the terraces of the 1980s. Modern safe standing areas using ‘rail seating’ operate very successfully in top tier football across Europe.”

Lib. Dem. MP Laws defends free school meals

August 22nd, 2014 by danielbarker
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David Laws MP writes to the Independent to defend the government’s free school meals scheme. “Pilots of this policy show that school lunches for all infant children will help improve their education, save parents money and make sure more children eat a nutritious meal at least once a day,” he states. Mr Laws also claims that suggestions the government is not offering enough financial support to local councils are incorrect, pointing out that schools have received £150m to improve catering facilities in addition to other funding.

Lib.Dem. Minister pledges to improve children’s mental health services

August 21st, 2014 by danielbarker
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Care Minister Norman Lamb says that Children’s mental-health services in England are “dysfunctional” and “crying out” for a complete overhaul. The MP accused the NHS of having an “institutional bias” against mental health. He is set to announce a new task force, made up of experts on children’s mental health, which will report recommendations for a shake-up of services. Nearly half of all local authorities have cut funding for young people’s mental health services after having their budgets cut by the coalition since 2010. “There needs to be the same focus on mental health as there is on cancer services, stroke services, knee replacements and so on,” stated Mr Lamb.

Driving down the deficit and repairing the economy

August 20th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted August 20, 2014

Figures released yesterday by the Office of National Statistics show that inflation fell from 1.9% to 1.6% in July. The rate fell more than was forecast, with economists expecting it to fall to 1.8%.

Commenting on the latest inflation figures, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

“The fact that inflation has been below the Bank of England target for seven consecutive months shows that subdued inflation is now becoming the norm as the economy recovers. Eliminating the deficit fairly, and repairing the UK economy remains central to the role of Liberal Democrats in Government.

“These encouraging inflation numbers should give businesses the confidence they need to deliver the investment required to boost productivity. Rising productivity is the only route to sustainable increases in living standards.”

Arms Export Licences to Israel

August 19th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have been very clear for some time both privately and publicly that they wanted to see arms export licences to Israel suspended because of the situation in Gaza.

Following a Government review, twelve licences have been identified for components which could be part of equipment used by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza

If the current ceasefire ends in Gaza and there was a resumption of significant hostilities, then there would be an immediate suspension of those arms export licences to Israel that give cause for concern.

It is no secret that there has been a difference of opinion in the Coalition Government on this issue. This is a coalition and this is as far as we have been able to reach in collective agreement with the Conservatives. It has taken a significant amount of time and effort from Liberal Democrats in government to get us this far.

Lib. Dems. aim to enable people to know the truth about public services

August 18th, 2014 by danielbarker
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The Lib Dem’s have made proposals for the overhaul of freedom of information laws. The “Big Six” energy firms may be made to detail staff bonuses and why bills are so high under suggested amendments, while companies which operate local services would also be forced to publish information which has previously been protected, for example – children of elderly parents could view the disciplinary record of nursing home staff. “I want to open up the information about the way public services, and other services given to the public, are run,” explained Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem justice minister.

Cap referendum – what do you think?

August 16th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Kirklees Council may become the first in the country to host a referendum on ignoring Government caps on council tax rises. Currently, council tax increases are limited at 2% and councils are encouraged to freeze their citizen’s bills with financial incentives. However, Kirklees must make “drastic” cuts to its £70m budget over the next three years, and is facing laying off 1,000 of its 7,000 staff, as well as cutting funding to care, libraries and museums. As a result, it has suggested increasing council tax, but must receive majority support in a public vote to do so. Council leader David Sheard has claimed the authority will first get feedback on whether the public back the idea, to avoid an expensive and fruitless referendum taking place without reason.

Question – should Walsall follow suit?
Although I felt that council tax should not be increased this year if it could be avoided, I’ve always disliked the fact that our local authority is restricted by central government when it comes to council tax. It seems odd to me that if the council did think it necessary to raise council tax more than 2%, because it didn’t have enough money to do what people wanted, that it would first have to spend money on a referendum, even if, as this year, the budget was decided by extensive consultation involving more people than those who might bother to vote in a referendum!
What do you think?

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Daniel Barker

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