F24: A Fairer, Greener, More Caring Society (Themes Policy Paper)

Motion as passed by conference

Submitted by: Federal Policy Committee

Mover: Jeremy Hargreaves (Vice Chair, Federal Policy Committee).

Summation: Cllr Lucy Nethsingha (Vice Chair, Federal Policy Committee).

Conference notes that Britain is renowned for its:

  1. Commitment to fairness, a system in which people who work hard can succeed, and where everyone is free to live their lives in the way they choose.
  2. Caring and mutually supportive society, manifested in institutions such as the NHS.
  3. Democratic traditions and institutions and deep-seated respect for the rule of law.
  4. Educational tradition, creativity and innovation, including in green technologies and medicine.
  5. Open, trading, entrepreneurial culture and commitment to a fair international system and contributing to key international institutions.

Conference condemns the Conservative UK government's betrayal of the people of Britain, their needs and wishes by their:

  1. Incompetent handling of the pandemic, which has seen one of the highest rates of Covid infection, serious illness and death of any country in the world.
  2. Encouragement of a divided and profoundly unfair society, in which one set of rules applies to an extremely wealthy and privileged few with close connections to the government, while NHS workers are given a meagre 1% pay rise.
  3. Lack of urgency and ambition in tackling the climate and nature emergency.
  4. Institutionalisation within government of lying and corruption, willingness to break international law, including treaties they themselves negotiated and signed recently, and historic rupture with Britain's successful trading economy past, leaving the world's largest and most successful free-trade area.
  5. Mishandling of the United Kingdom as a whole, with the place of Scotland and Northern Ireland in the UK now in question.

Conference therefore welcomes policy paper 143, A Fairer, Greener, More Caring Society, as a statement of Liberal Democrat policy priorities to make Britain:

  1. A fair society in which all contribute their fair share, and every person can have a decent income and a secure home, and can rely on good public services, by:
    1. Creating a properly funded commitment to free childcare from 9 months until the day a child starts school.
    2. Making the £1000 pa uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extend it to all legacy benefits.
    3. Scrapping the sanctions system.
    4. Introducing a 20% higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts, and a clearer 'dependent contractor' status with basic protections, between employment and self-employment.
    5. Introducing an equitably funded Universal Basic Income that will make household finances more resilient and help empower people to make their own choices about work and training.
  2. A caring society in which everyone's health and care needs are met and we give carers the support they deserve, by:
    1. Raising Carer's Allowance by £1,000 a year and funding regular breaks for every unpaid carer.
    2. Building a broad and cross party agreement on a long term, sustainable system of social care that is at least as generous as that proposed by the Dilnot report.
    3. Raising £7 billion a year in additional revenue by putting 1p on Income Tax, ringfenced for spending on the NHS (focusing on mental health services) and social care.
  3. A leader in the fight against the climate and nature emergencies, by:
    1. Delivering a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, spending £150 billion to kick-start programmes to retrofit all UK homes, generate 75% of electricity from renewables by 2030, decarbonise transport, and introduce a green jobs guarantee, offering a well-paying green job to anyone who wants one.
    2. Protecting the natural environment, including supporting nature-friendly farming, ensuring that UK environmental and animal welfare standards are maintained, and setting legally binding targets for improving the quality of water, air, and soil and biodiversity.
    3. Increasing the availability of housing and supporting sustainable communities, including opposing the Government's planning reforms and backing councils to build 380,000 new homes a year, including 150,000 for social rent.
  4. A beacon for individual rights, diversity and inclusion, by:
    1. Ending violence by men against women and girls, including by making misogyny a hate crime, giving police, prosecutors and judges better training and more resources, and improving age-appropriate sex and relationship education in schools.
    2. Combating racial injustice, including by abolishing the Conservatives' Hostile Environment, ending the disproportionate use of Stop and Search, and implementing a new Race Equality Strategy.
    3. Opposing the Conservatives' dangerous and draconian crackdown on protests, and defending the Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights and judicial review from Tory attacks.
    4. Strengthening LGBT+ rights at home and abroad, including by banning conversion therapy, strengthening trans rights and healthcare services, improving inclusive education on LGBT+ issues in schools, and ending the current regime of dehumanising processes and deportations to instead provide support and welcome for LGBT+ people from around the world who seek sanctuary in the UK.
  5. A modern, open, democratic state in which people can have real control over decisions which affect them and confidence in the integrity of politicians and institutions, by:
    1. Making every vote count through reforming the electoral system to make it more proportional, using the single transferable vote, for all public elections in the UK; and through votes at 16.
    2. Giving power back to the people by strengthening local government in England.
    3. Making the Ministerial Code legally enforceable.
  6. The best place in the world to start and to grow a business, by:
    1. Quadrupling the Employment Allowance, massively reducing small businesses' national insurance contributions bills, and giving small businesses relief on their rent arrears.
    2. Creating an Entrepreneur's Allowance to help people start new businesses.
  7. A model of a truly world class education and skills system, by:
    1. Extending eligibility for Free School Meals to every primary school student and child living in poverty, providing food vouchers during school holidays and tackling the 'digital divide' by making household internet more affordable.
    2. Giving every adult the chance to access education and training opportunities throughout life by introducing Skills Wallets and providing training courses free to those not in work via a training guarantee scheme.
    3. Delivering an ambitious, long-term plan to support young people's educational and emotional recovery from the pandemic.
  8. A strong and responsible international partner for peace, democracy and prosperity, by:
    1. Reversing cuts to development aid and ensuring the UK keeps its word by protecting existing aid projects.
    2. Creating the closest possible alignment between the UK and the EU, including rejoining the Customs Union, Single Market and other EU agencies and programmes as appropriate, and supporting a longer-term objective of UK membership of the EU.

Federal; except 2. b) and c) (lines 48-53), 4. a) (lines 69-72), 5. b) (lines 87-88) and 7. (lines 96-105), which are England only.