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Liberal Democrats

F41: For a Fair Deal

Submitted by: Federal Policy Committee.
Mover: Cllr Lisa Smart (Chair, Federal Campaigns and Communications Committee).
Summation: Lord Newby (Chair, Manifesto Group).

Conference applauds the outstanding courage, strength and ingenuity of people across the United Kingdom, working hard for their families often in very difficult circumstances, from skyrocketing prices to under-funded public services.

Conference condemns the shameful betrayal of Britain's hardworking and law-abiding citizens by the Conservative government which:

  1. Now presides over some of the highest inflation and lowest economic growth prospects of any developed country, with no coherent policy for the economy in response.
  2. Has permitted a sustained rise in child poverty, with 31% now living in poverty.
  3. Actively promotes a divided and profoundly unfair society, in which some rules seem not to apply to a wealthy and privileged few, and actively fostering cultural divisions between social groups.
  4. Has created the biggest crisis in the history of the NHS, with ambulance response times, waits to see a GP, and waiting lists all at sky-high, dangerous and rising levels.
  5. Allows water companies to pump filthy sewage into our rivers.
  6. Lacks all urgency and ambition in tackling the climate and nature emergency.
  7. Has institutionalised lying and corruption within government and is, unbelievably, willing to break international law - including their own recent treaties.

Conference confirms that the Liberal Democrats' purpose is to ensure every individual has control of their own lives, and for society to enable them in that aim, balancing liberty, equality and community, and ensuring no-one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity - we want to see democratic and legal systems which are fair and effective, a strong international order in which we work with our partners, and a long-term relationship with the planet which is environmentally sustainable.

Conference affirms again the Liberal Democrats' existing support for closer economic and cultural ties with our European neighbours, and a longer-term objective of UK membership of the EU.

Conference reaffirms our commitment to a society which gives everyone a fair deal and the opportunity to get on in life, wherever they start, where everyone plays by the same rules, and which puts power in all our hands, so we can all play our part for our children, our community, business and the environment.

To implement our vision for society, conference therefore endorses paper 149, For a Fair Deal, as a statement of current Liberal Democrat political priorities, including:

  1. Supporting individuals and businesses in difficult economic times by reducing VAT to 17.5%, reducing business rates and employment costs and instituting a revolutionary green investment programme.
  2. Ensuring no-one fears for their future, struggles to put food on their table or heat their home through a package of support measures including reinstating the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, and extending it to people on legacy benefits, most of whom are disabled, and protecting the triple lock on pensions.
  3. Ensuring that when people need medical help or care they can get it in time, through training and recruiting more GPs so that everyone can get an appointment when they need one, putting mental health on the same footing as physical health, reforming the funding formula for NHS Dentists so that no one is forced to pay hundreds of pounds for private care, and increasing the Carer's Allowance so that unpaid carers have the support they so desperately need.
  4. Repairing the damage done to democracy by the Conservatives and transfer power to the people through fair votes, scrapping voter ID requirements, shifting powers away from Whitehall and Westminster to the nations and regions of the UK, and introducing a codified written constitution.
  5. Building a free society where every person's rights and liberties are protected, through Championing the Human Rights Act and resisting any attempts to weaken or repeal it, giving police and prosecutors the resources and training they need to prevent and prosecute all hate crimes, and banning all forms of Conversion Therapy.
  6. Delivering a good home for all through building at least 150,000 new council and social homes a year, while giving local authorities the powers to end the right to buy in their areas and requiring them to have a landlord licensing scheme.
  7. Taking strong action to protect and enhance the natural environment, through setting targets to double the size of the Protected Area Network, the area of most important wildlife habitats, and the abundance of species by 2050, and ending sewage discharges by introducing a sewage tax to clean up our rivers.
  8. Supporting British farmers, food production and food quality though keeping payments in full to family farming businesses until the better Environmental Land Management Scheme is rolled out, and guaranteeing that all future trade deals will maintain high health, environmental and animal welfare standards for food production, at least as good as EU standards.
  9. Empowering local communities in England and allowing them to take the action they need to improve their areas, through allowing communities to limit the number of second homes and holiday lets and ending top-down reorganisation of councils and the imposition of elected mayors on communities who do not want them.
  10. Tackling climate change through an emergency programme of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and power generation to near-zero over ten years, including reaching 80% renewable power by 2030, extending Britain's rail network, strengthening the powers and resources of local authorities to cut carbon emissions in their area, and investing in more charging points for electric vehicles, especially in rural areas, and reduce VAT on electric vehicles to 5% to encourage uptake.
  11. Prepare children and young people for a changing world through investing for our children to catch up on the vital learning they missed during the pandemic, reinstating maintenance grants for disadvantaged students immediately to make sure that living costs are not a barrier to studying at university, and creating new Skills Wallets for every adult, giving them £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives.
  12. Restoring the UK's reputation as a country which acts for good in the world through reinstating the 0.7% of GNI aid target, re-establishing a Department for International Development, maintaining the UK's support for NATO, providing safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees, and putting a stop to oligarchs from corrupt regimes channelling their money through the UK.
  13. Taking a pragmatic approach to building the UK's new relations with Europe by following our four-step roadmap (as set out in Spring Conference 2022), including agreeing partnerships or associations with EU agencies and programmes such as the European Aviation Safety Agency; once those trading relations are deepened and the ties of trust and friendship are renewed, we aim to place the UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the Single Market.
  14. Protecting the BBC and Channel 4 as independent, publicly-owned, public service broadcasters, and supporting growth in the creative industries.
  15. Restoring proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and focused on preventing and solving crimes, and investing in the criminal justice system to clear the backlog of court cases and ensure swift justice for victims and offenders.

Applicability: Federal; except 3., 6., 9., and 15., which are England only.

Mover and summation: 16 minutes combined; movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9 of the agenda.

The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00 Monday 5 September, see page 12 of the agenda. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Tuesday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 on Monday 19 September, see pages 8-9 of the agenda.