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Today's Headlines

July 8, 2020 12:24 PM
By Danny Simm

Govt recovery plans do not match ambition of other countries

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a package of measures worth over £3bn to green jobs alongside a fund which will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24.

  • Across our country millions face an unprecedented economic and health crisis. We need a radical new direction to meet this challenge. We need a massive green stimulus so we both provide jobs and tackle the next crisis, the climate crisis.
  • The Government's spending on climate change simply does not match the scale of ambition necessary to reshape our economy, nor does it match the sums other countires have pledged. That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Chancellor to do more and invest £150 billion over three years through a Green Recovery Plan.
  • We must not forget this pandemic hasn't affected everyone equally. Amongst the worst hit are self employed workers, many of whom still aren't receiving any support. This is a gross injustice against some of the most vulnerable workers in the UK. The Chancellor must use his statement to expand support for the self-employed and all vulnerable workers.

NHS staff to lose free parking at hospitals

NHS workers will have to start paying for parking at their own hospitals again as the Covid-19 crisis starts to ease, the Government has confirmed.

  • NHS staff and social care workers are protecting us and putting themselves on the line every single day.
  • Removing parking charges for staff during Covid-19 was the right move. Nurses, cleaners and other health workers shouldn't now be punished for simply parking at work.
  • Our healthcare workers deserved to have certainty that they could get to work without extra charges or hassle. Now the Government must provide clarity and ensure our workers are not saddled with extortionate parking charges.

Chancellor must act to help those excluded from Govt support

The initial meeting of the APPG for ExcludedUK took place yesterday where Liberal Democrat MP and Chair of the APPG Jamie Stone called on the Chancellor to help those who have so far been left out of the financial support measures introduced by the Government.

  • We have all heard too many heart-breaking stories from those who have lost their livelihoods overnight as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
  • It is simply unacceptable that many individuals are ineligible for every kind of support, even Universal Credit, for entirely arbitrary reasons.
  • The Chancellor must stop burying his head in the sand. He must respond to the Treasury Select Committee Interim Report and its recommendations for how to help all those who have been excluded and commit to a meeting with the APPG and Excluded UK as a matter of urgency so we can get the change these people so desperately need.

Govt must grant EU citizens the right to remain, with physical proof

The Brexit Committee was yesterday warned that there will be significant problems for EU citizens in the UK unless the Government changes its policy of digital-only settled status proof.

  • Nobody should be forced to live under a cloud of uncertainty. Treating EU citizens like this, especially now that the coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the enormous contributions they make to our society, is shameful.
  • By forcing EU citizens to apply for the right to stay and refusing to give them physical proof, the Conservative Government is causing huge anxiety for people who in many cases have lived here for decades.
  • Priti Patel must listen to the Liberal Democrats, the3million and others and grant EU citizens the automatic right to stay, with physical proof. Unless the Government changes course, it risks creating a new Windrush Scandal on an even bigger scale.

Govt decision on arms sales to Saudi Arabia shows lack of humanity

Via a written statement, the Secretary of State for International Trade confirmed yesterday that the UK will resume selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

  • The situation in Yemen is horrific, with Saudi Arabia persistently violating human rights and the rule of law. Arms sales to the regime should be banned until further notice.
  • Last year the Conservative Government breached the Court of Appeal ruling on the licensing of arms for use in Yemen and now they are trying to make out as though Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses are a one off.
  • The Government need to gain some humanity on this - Saudi Arabia should have been ruled out as an arms trading partner long ago. If they are serious about defending human rights - as Raab stated is the purpose of the new Magnitsky style sanctions - then there should be no question on this.

PAC warning on PPE shows need for independent inquiry

The Public Accounts Committee have today published a report which warns the Government does not have either a clear understanding of the equipment needed for clinical and care workers or how to distribute it, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

  • NHS staff and social care workers are protecting us and putting themselves on the line every single day. They need us to protect them. It is outrageous that our frontline health and care workers were let down for so long by a lack of proper equipment.
  • It's becoming increasingly clear that the Government failed to prepare properly for a pandemic and has been slow to act. We urgently need effective supplies of PPE for all key workers who require it for their safety.
  • As the report shows, however, there must be an independent inquiry with the strongest possible powers to review the Government's actions, so we can learn lessons.

The PM blaming care homes for his failure is shameful

Yesterday, the Prime Minister was reported to have said that "we discovered too many care homes didn't really follow the procedures in the way that they could have".

  • For weeks Boris Johnson told us he and his ministers had put a protective ring round our care homes. That was a lie and the public knew it. Now he is trying to shift the blame to those who risked their lives caring for our loved ones, ignoring the facts that they had to accept patients from hospital without tests and weren't allowed proper PPE for weeks. He should be ashamed.
  • From the very beginning of the pandemic, the Liberal Democrats and others were insisting that care homes needed to be provided with adequate personal protective equipment and access to frequent testing but Ministers utterly failed to ensure this happened.
  • To try and claim that care homes were not following procedures properly is an insult to all those who tragically lost loved ones who were in care.
  • There must be a full independent inquiry into the Government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. Not only must the Government learn from the mistakes that have been made so that a crisis in our care homes and communities like this can never happen again - but the Prime Minister and his ministers must take responsibility for them.


Landmark domestic abuse legislation passes House of Commons

Last night, the Liberal Democrats have hailed the passing of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill. The Liberal Democrats tabled a number of amendments designed to further support survivors of domestic abuse.

  • Ahead of the Commons debate yesterday, the Liberal Democrats had succeeded in pushing the Government to ban alleged domestic abusers from cross-examining survivors in family courts and to properly recognise children as victims of domestic abuse.
  • The Liberal Democrat had also secured cross-party support for two amendments to protect migrants who experience domestic abuse. Neither was put to a vote yesterday, but the Government agreed to introduce a pilot scheme to give more support to migrant survivors, and Christine Jardine secured an assurance from the Minister that they will put a stop to police sharing survivors' data for immigration purposes.
  • But this is by no means the end of our work to tackle domestic abuse. Liberal Democrats will continue to press for all survivors to get the support they need, no matter where they were born.
  • The passing of this historic Bill sends out a clear message that domestic abuse is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. It is a key step to tackling gender inequality in the 21st century.