People feel that local government is hobbled by central control and that they have no effective means of making known their concerns and priorities. It’s no wonder they feel frustrated and angry at the system.
This anger found its most recent expression in the result of the EU referendum, but ironically this was as much a verdict on the performance of British political institutions as European ones. The Conservatives’ proposed Great Repeal Bill threatens to centralise power even more.
We believe in a United Kingdom where people have power over their own lives and how their country is run. To make this happen we need to revitalise our political system – strengthen devolution, make the argument that we are stronger together than we are apart, and increase trust in our institutions.
Local groups working together
Liberal Democrats believe in community politics – in the power of local people to come together to solve their own problems and make a better life for their neighbourhoods. This means rejuvenating democratic local government in England and also supporting other forms of community organisation and empowerment.
Supporting families & communities
A fair society is one in which everyone has the means to get by and the chance to get on. It means being able to provide for your family, afford somewhere to live and work within your community. That’s why we will increase the availability of childcare to help parents who want to work and why we will ensure that the benefits system is fair – focusing on helping people and not just saving money. It’s why we will work to build more houses and make them affordable. And it’s why we will empower local councils and communities to run their own services – free from the interference of central government.
Access to culture and sport
Arts, media and sports are essential for personal fulfilment and quality of life – they are part of what turns a group of people into a community. Funding for these organisations is put at risk with Brexit and the Liberal Democrats will ensure that we continue to invest in our cultural capital
Unfair votes, overcentralisation of decision-making, the power of patronage and the influence of powerful corporate lobbies mean ordinary citizens and local communities are too often excluded and left alienated by politics today. We need to reform British politics to make it more representative and more empowering of our citizens so it earns greater public confidence.
Greener homes, lower energy bills
At more than £1,200 a year, the cost of heating and lighting an average home in the UK is too high – and with a falling exchange rate, costs will rise further. More than two million families – one in 10 households in England – cannot afford to heat their home properly. We will expand community energy schemes, encourage councils to develop community energy-saving projects and local electricity generation, and promote city-scale demonstration projects in electric vehicles and clean energy.
Liberal Democrats will reduce energy bills permanently by improving home insulation and encouraging small-scale, community and local-authority renewable schemes. We will make saving energy a top infrastructure priority, slashing energy bills and carbon emissions, creating thousands of jobs and helping end the fuel poverty crisis once and for all.
Cutting waste, using resources wisely
Britain’s economy fails to make the most efficient use of natural resources. We aim to cut waste, increase recovery, reuse and recycling and move towards the so-called ‘circular economy’ in which resource use, waste and pollution are minimised and product lifetimes are extended. This will cut costs for consumers and businesses, and create new jobs and enterprises, helping to grow Britain’s economy.
Liberal Democrats have always put education at the heart of our agenda. Education opens the mind, it fosters understanding and tolerance, and it empowers our children and our communities. We believe every child deserves a great start in life so they are equipped to shape their own future, and are determined to make sure that the education system finds and unleashes the best in everyone. This is essential in order to break down the unfair divisions in our society, to ensure a productive, competitive economy and to overcome intolerance.
Too many people have their chances in life determined by who their parents are rather than by their own efforts and abilities. With our Pupil Premium, investing in children who might otherwise fall behind, we are finally beginning to tackle the scandalous gap in attainment between rich and poor. But now the Conservatives want to take us back 50 years, to an outdated system of grammar schools and secondary moderns, ignoring all the research and expert advice that show it will damage the life chances of so many children.
Liberal Democrats recognise the dual role of education in giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to be part of a productive, competitive economy, and helping them grow into happy, healthy and engaged members of their community.
Children’s education is too often distorted by schools’ need to focus on the next set of league tables and the next inspection. Teachers deserve to be treated as professionals and given the flexibility and support to apply their expertise. Schools should be free to encourage children to participate in a truly rounded curriculum including the arts, sport and culture that broaden children’s learning and develop their passion for education
Good health is a prerequisite to taking full advantage of life’s opportunities, and we must do all we can to help people stay healthy as well as provide high-quality care when they are ill. Mental health is just as important as physical health and we have made it a priority to deliver equality between the two.
The NHS has been the envy of the world, but it is now facing the greatest crisis in its history and we urgently need to increase its funding.
As a country, we are living longer – but that means more people are living with conditions like diabetes and dementia and they 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.
Health and wellbeing are affected by far more than just the quality of health and social care services, so we will work to improve the wider factors that affect people’s health such as warm homes, clean air and access to exercise and healthy food so that everyone can have the best chance to lead a healthy life.
We strictly oppose the closing of Charing Cross Hospital.
Charing Cross Hospital is under attack. It is facing being downgraded and losing its A&E facilities, leaving an urgent care centre just 13 percent the size of the original hospital, with at least 60 per cent of the site being replaced with luxury flats. We fully support campaigns to prevent its closure.
This hospital is in a state of crisis. Conservative & Labour governments have left them chronically underfunded, while need continues to grow and patient care suffers. Social care throughout the nation is facing a funding black hole of £2 billion this year alone and more than a million older people are missing out on the care they need.
People are routinely left stranded in this hospital after they finish their treatment because the follow-up care and support they need is not available.
Liberal Democrats recognise that Britain’s health and social care services are our most treasured national institutions. Any party seeking to lead the council after this election should be prepared to take bold action to safeguard Charing Cross. This isn’t about doing the easiest thing, it is about doing what is right and what is essential.
Home not hospital: joining up health and social care
We need services that fit around people’s lives, not ones that force them to fit their lives around the care they need. This will become increasingly important as our population ages and the number of people living with long-term conditions grows. It is also more cost-effective to support people to be able to live at home rather than endure lengthy stays in hospital. We must move away from a fragmented system to an integrated service with more joined-up care and more personal budgets so that people can design services for their own individual needs. We believe this should happen from the bottom up, suiting the needs of local communities.
Better access to community services
Most people’s experience of the NHS is their local GP or the nurses and support staff who visit them at home or work in community clinics. Access to care in GP surgeries and closer to home is better for patients and will also help reduce pressure on hospitals, accident and emergency departments and ambulances.