Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010 Your Family
In Britain today, families come in all shapes and sizes. Liberal Democrats believe every family should get the support it needs to thrive.
a fair deal for families of every shape and size
In Britain today, families come in all shapes and sizes. Liberal Democrats believe every family should get the support it needs to thrive, from help with childcare through to better support for carers and elderly parents.
Liberal Democrats will improve life for your family. On top of our tax cuts to put £700 in the pockets of millions of low and middle-income earners, we will allow mums and dads to share parental leave between them so they can arrange family life in the way that suits them best. We will provide better support for children at risk and young adults to help them thrive. We will restore the earnings link for pensions, and offer respite breaks for carers. And we will protect families from unfair bills.
help for families – right from the start
The first weeks, months and years after a child is born are enormously important, but the support arrangements are simply too inflexible at the moment. When a baby is born, the mother gets a year’s leave and the father gets just two weeks, meaning the mother has to take the lion’s share of the responsibility, even if their partner would rather share things more equally.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Give fathers the right to time off for ante-natal appointments.
• Allow parents to share the allocation of maternity and paternity leave between them in whatever way suits them best.
• Protect existing childcare support arrangements until the nation’s finances can support a longer term solution: a move to 20 hours free childcare for every child, from the age of 18 months.
• Seek to extend the period of shared parental leave up to 18 months when resources and economic circumstances allow.
• Support efforts by childcare providers to encourage more men to work in this hugely important and undervalued profession.
• Extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, making it easier for grandparents, for example, to take a caring role.
helping families stay strong
Every child deserves a happy life free from poverty and free from fear. Children face too many difficulties in today’s Britain; the Government is going to fall far short of its target to cut child poverty, and young people have been demonised by a generation of politicians more interested in sounding tough than in offering help. Children are also the main victims of family breakdown.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Maintain the commitment to end child poverty in the UK by 2020.
• Incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law, ending the detention of children for immigration purposes.
• Enhance child protection. We will enforce the publication of an anonymised version of Serious Case Reviews to ensure that lessons are learned.
• Support the objective of at least a 70 per cent reduction in child maltreatment by 2030, promoted by the WAVE trust.
• Help protect children and young people from developing negative body images by regulating airbrushing in adverts.
• Tackle online bullying by backing quick-report buttons on social networking sites, enabling offensive postings to be speedily removed.
• Strengthen the Youth Service by making it a statutory service, and by encouraging local authorities to provide youth services in partnership with young people and the voluntary sector.
• Set the minimum wage at the same level for all workers over 16 (except for those on apprenticeships).
• Introduce a Default Contact Arrangement which would divide the child’s time between their two parents in the event of family breakdown, if there is no threat to the safety of the child.
dignity and security in later life
The way older people are treated is the mark of a fair society. Older people have worked hard and contributed to society for decades; they deserve a fair deal. Liberal Democrats will increase the inadequate basic state pension and ensure fair treatment for everyone from government, public services and business alike.
That is why Liberal Democrats will:
• Immediately restore the link between the basic state pension and earnings. We will uprate the state pension annually by whichever is the higher of growth in earnings, growth in prices or 2.5 per cent.
• Increase the income tax threshold to £10,000, saving most pensioners around £100 a year.
• Offer a week’s respite for the one million carers who spend 50 hours every week looking after a sick relative.
• Scrap compulsory retirement ages, allowing those who wish to continue in work to do so.
• Give you control over your own pension by scrapping the rules that compel you to buy an annuity when you reach 75.
• In the long term, aim to bring in a Citizen’s Pension that will be paid to all UK citizens who are long-term residents, set at the level of the Pension Credit, though this can only be done when resources allow.
• Begin a national programme to insulate many more homes paid for by the savings from lower energy bills. There is a further, serious, long-term crisis facing older people: the sustainability of the systems for providing long-term care. It is unacceptable that this challenge has been treated as a political football. A Liberal Democrat Government would immediately establish an independent commission to develop future proposals for long-term care that will attract all-party support and so be sustainable. We believe that the eventual solution must be based on the principles of fairness, affordability and sustainability.
a fair deal for consumers
While open markets usually deliver opportunity and prosperity, sometimes markets fail and consumers are badly treated by big business. The banks have exploited their position of power to impose unfair charges. Energy bills are far too expensive for many people, and suppliers have not done enough to protect those who cannot afford to keep warm.
• Change the tariffs used by energy supply companies so that the first, essential, energy you use is the cheapest. We’ll ensure that effective energy efficiency measures are introduced to keep bills low and that ‘social tariffs’ are available to guarantee the best price for all those in most need. We will seek to extend protection and support to ‘off-gasgrid’ consumers.
• Address unfairness in water charges by consulting on the implementation of the Walker Review which recommended action to deal with regional unfairness in water charges.
• Legislate to end unfair bank and financial transaction charges, so you cannot be charged more than the costs incurred.
• Improve access to banking for all with a PostBank, revenues from which will also help to secure the future of the Post Office.
• Impose maximum interest rates for credit cards and store cards, following consultation with the financial industry and consumer groups.
• Introduce a Universal Service Code to secure high-quality customer service in the private and public sectors, for example by requiring that the customer service phone number is free from mobiles and landlines.
• Require a local competition test for all planning applications for new retail developments and establish a local competition office within the Office of Fair Trading to investigate anti-competitive practices at a local and regional level.
• Require airlines to be honest and upfront about pricing, ending the practice of adding hidden charges.
• Cut rail fares, changing the rules in contracts with Train Operating Companies so that regulated fares fall behind inflation by 1 per cent each year, meaning a real-terms cut.
• Make Network Rail refund a third of your ticket price if you have to take a rail replacement bus service.
• Regulate the parking system to remove unfairness and stop private sector wheel-clamping.
enhanced protection for animals
Liberal Democrats believe that ownership and use of animals is a responsibility that should not be abused.
• Merge existing quangos to establish an Animal Protection Commission to investigate abuses, educate the public and enforce the law; it will also be able to publish reports on its own initiative.
• End testing of household products on animals.
• Work for the proper enforcement of regulations for the transportation of live animals across all EU member states.
Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010 : 4 Steps to a Fairer Britain
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