Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus developments are unfolding ever more quickly, and leaving the most vulnerable in our communities at risk. Find out what we are doing to ensure everyone gets the support they need.

By Liberal Democrats, Mar 23, 2020 11:03

Lib Dems move to ensure Goverment pay out to keep children learning 

On Saturday, we tabled an amendment to the Coronavirus Bill which makes clear the Government must pay schools and colleges “whatever it costs” so that children can keep learning if schools stay shut for several months.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran, a former teacher, has warned if some schools continue to deliver lessons and others don’t it will be a “disaster for social mobility.”

The proposals from the Liberal Democrats includes creating a duty on schools and colleges to ensure that pupils – whether at home or on-site – continue to receive an education, accepting that schools are unlikely to be able to cover the national curriculum.

We are also seeking a commitment from Ministers to refund schools and colleges for any reasonable purchases of equipment, software or other resources needed for remote working of teachers and students.

The Coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. We cannot thank teachers and staff enough for going above and beyond. Many of them are already doing the right thing and are preparing online resources to help pupils study at home.

We have complete faith in the professionalism and creativity of our teachers. Ministers must match their efforts by making explicitly clear what schools will be expected to provide both for pupils who are at home and for those who remain in their care.

We cannot forget it will be a disaster for social mobility if some schools can continue teaching in some form and others cannot. We are urging the Government to pay whatever it costs to get staff and pupils the equipment and resources they need. No child should be left behind.


Lib Dems respond to closure of cafes, bars, and restaurants

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that cafes, bars, and restaurants are to close tonight, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said: 

“People will understandably be alarmed at these measures, but at this difficult time people must pull together. These measures are being put in place in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society. I urge everyone to closely follow the advice."

The Prime Minister must also understand the implications for the mental health and wellbeing of people right across our country. He must come forward with clear measures to provide the well-being support people need.

More must be done to signal we care for all

In response to the financial measures announced on Friday, Liberal Democrats called on the Government to do more provide financial support for everyone. 

Whilst the package for employees is welcome, we are worried that far too little is being done for the self-employed, for those on zero hours’ contracts or for those on statutory sick pay and benefits

Ed Davey called on the Chancellor to raise the level of statutory sick pay and extend it to the two million people earning less than £118 a week that are currently excluded. It is also vital that the charities and not for profit organisations who do so much to care for so many are not forgotten during this crisis.

By guaranteeing 80% of income not just for workers but also the self-employed, boosting sick pay to £220 a week for everyone, and increasing out of work benefits, the government would in effect create a temporary Citizen's Income. This would send a strong signal that we care for everyone in our society.

Transition period extension is the right thing to do

Responding to the reports that EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has said the EU is open to a possible request to extend the Brexit transition period, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said: 

“With countries across Europe battling the coronavirus crisis, Commission President von der Leyen’s comments are welcome news. The UK government’s focus must be on tackling this pandemic and saving as many lives as possible."

Extending the transition period would help reduce the burden and uncertainty on businesses, the economy, and most importantly our NHS and social care system.

An extension is the right thing to do. We will continue to urge Boris Johnson to secure one as a priority.

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