Liberal Democrats

F30: A Stronger Economy and a Fairer Society

Watch the whole debate below or click 'Playlist' on the left of the video to select individual speeches.

This motion and the accompanying pre-manifesto paper set out the party’s policy priorities for the general election
manifesto. As such it covers a very wide range of policies, in many cases re-affirming or updating existing policies.
In particular it develops or substantially updates policies on aiming to balance the structural current budget by
2017/18 and setting a course to reduce debt as a share of national income, while allowing borrowing to invest in
areas which promote economic growth; extending the protection of education funding from early years, through
school, to college; retaining the Barnett Formula as the basis for future spending allocations for Scotland and
Northern Ireland, while addressing the underfunding of Wales; putting the environment at the heart of our thinking
by introducing five Green Laws (A Nature Act, A Heating and Energy Efficiency Act, A Zero Waste Britain Act, A
Zero Carbon Britain Act A Green Transport Act); introducing a ‘Yellow Card’ before benefit sanctions are applied
to give people a warning that benefits could be withdrawn; reforming the spare room subsidy for existing social
tenants so that it will not withdrawn unless they have received a reasonable alternative offer with the correct
number of rooms, and so that tenants who have genuine medical need for an extra room or have had their homes
substantially adapted do not have benefits reduced; launching a two-thirds discount bus pass for 16–21 year
olds; and introducing a national programme to insulate homes, with a Council Tax cut for those who take part.


F30: A Stronger Economy and a Fairer Society (Pre-Manifesto Policy Paper)

(Passed with Amendment 3) 

Conference believes that:

I. Since 2010, the Liberal Democrats have worked in government to rescue and repair Britain's shattered economy.

II. In the next Parliament, we need to move from rescue to renewal, to think boldly and restore a sense of national optimism.

III. The task of a liberal party is above all to empower every person to realise their own potential 'and maximise their wellbeing, no matter what their background, race, colour, disability, age, religion, belief, sex or sexuality.

IV. The Liberal Democrat vision for the next five years must therefore be to focus our efforts on removing the biggest barriers that are holding people, and holding Britain, back. 

Conference therefore endorses policy paper 121, A Stronger Economy and A Fairer Society, as the basis for constructing the party's manifesto for the next general election. Conference welcomes its key commitments to: 

A. Finish the job on the deficit fairly and balance the books so the next generation are not burdened by huge interest payments. 

B. Rewire the economy to cut out carbon, rebuild our national infrastructure, and embrace new technology, so the next generation can enjoy long-term prosperity and be protected from the threat of runaway climate change.

C. Rebalance the tax system away from work and towards unearned wealth, so the next generation can keep more of the money they earn and live in a more equal world.

D. Build the homes our country needs to stop prices spiralling out of reach, so the next generation have the chance to bring up a family in a home of their own.

E. Return power from the stifling grip of Whitehall to the citizens and communities of our country, so the next generation have the power to shape the society in which they live.

F. Restore confidence in Britain's immigration system with fair rules and competent administration, so the next generation can continue to live in an open, tolerant society that benefits from people and expertise from around the world. 

G. Reaffirm our commitment to a National Health Service which must remain free at the point of delivery, which is focused on increasing wellbeing and enabling people to live fulfilled lives and which makes the aspiration of 'parity of esteem' between mental and physical health a reality. 

H. Invest every penny we can in education from cradle to college - nursery, school, apprenticeships and college - so all our children get the chance to live out their full potential.

Conference in particular welcomes its proposals to:

1. Finish the job on the deficit and balance the books by:

a) Aiming to balance the structural current budget by 2017/18.

b) Setting a course to reduce debt as a share of national income.

c) Making deficit reduction fair by ensuring high earners and the wealthiest pay their share, including through the introduction of a banded Mansion Tax. 

d) Setting new fiscal rules to balance the budget while allowing borrowing for productive investment.

e) Increasing public spending again in line with the growth of the economy once the budget is balanced. 

2. Build prosperity that lasts for everyone, founded on strong national infrastructure, a stable, competitive business environment and investment in skills, green technologies and innovation by:

a) Continuing the Regional Growth Fund to back growing businesses, and enhancing the Green Investment Bank. 

b) Continuing to invest in High Speed Rail, electrify main lines and re-open local stations, and where possible disused rail, to support people back onto our railways.

c) Introducing a legally-binding decarbonisation target and an indicative renewables target to green our electricity, and action to boost renewable heating.

d) Place the Natural Capital Committee on the same statutory footing as the Committee on Climate Change, tasked with identifying key natural resources being used unsustainably and recommending legally binding targets for reducing their net consumption; and introduce incentives for businesses to improve resource efficiency. 

e) Investing to make the UK a world leader in low carbon cars, energy efficiency and hi-tech manufacturing.

f) Developing a strategic airports policy in the light of the Davies review, while remaining opposed to any expansion of Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick or any new airport in the Thames Estuary, and ensuring no net increase in runways across the UK as a whole.

3. Put money into the pockets of those who need it most by:

a) Raising the personal allowance to at least £12,500, cutting your taxes by an extra £400, paid for by measures to raise the tax contribution of the wealthiest, including clamping down on tax evasion and avoidance.

b) Legislating to make the triple lock permanent, guaranteeing decent pension rises every year 

c) Providing more free childcare: moving to 20 hours a week for working families from the end of paid maternity leave right through to school.

d) Keeping house prices and rents affordable by aiming to boost house building to 300,000 a year.

e) Cutting energy bills for everyone with more competition, easier switching and a national programme to insulate homes, with a Council Tax cut if you take part.

4. Create an opportunity society with world class education for all by: 

a) Extending the protection to all education funding from early years through school to college.

b) Bringing about a revolution in the quality of early years education with qualified teachers in every nursery and an enhanced early years pupil premium.

c) Delivering a Parents' Guarantee:  a core curriculum in every school and every child taught by qualified teachers.

d) Taking swift action to support and challenge weak schools and colleges. 

e) Introducing a discount bus pass for young people aged 16-21 so they can afford to get to college or work, partly funded by withdrawing eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment and free TV Licence from pensioners on the higher rate of income tax.

5. Increase wellbeing and enable people to live fulfilled lives, by:

a) Guaranteeing the NHS budget will rise by at least inflation.

b) Giving equal rights for mental health patients to get treated just as fast as people with physical health problems by moving towards equality of funding to reflect the respective health need.

c) Introducing a new £250 'Carer's Bonus' so carers can take a proper break every year. 

d) Encouraging fathers to be more involved by expanding shared parental leave with a 'use-it-or-lose-it' month for fathers.

e) Enabling heterosexual (opposite sex) partners to enter into a civil partnership 

f) Massively expanding accessible green space, completing the coastal path and improving the Right to Roam.

g) Making more sustainable use of resources and reducing waste, including through committing to ending the use of landfill in a generation. 

h) Pass a Nature Act with a long-term commitment to restore nature - including targets for biodiversity, clean air and water - and empower the Natural Capital Committee to recommend actions to meet these targets 

6. Build strong communities with opportunity for all, through ensuring our laws are upheld firmly and fairly by:

a) Establishing a National Institute of Crime Prevention to cut crime with better policing.

b) Cutting crime with specialist 'drug courts' that get addicts back on the straight and narrow.

c) Reforming prisons to focus on turning offenders away from a life of crime.

d) Bringing back full border checks so we know who's coming in and leaving the UK.

e) Doubling enforcement of minimum wage laws to tackle illegal working and human trafficking.

7. Transfer power away from Westminster and Whitehall and return it to people, restraining the power of the state to snoop into everyday life and build up citizens and communities to take control over their own destinies by:

a) Protecting privacy through updating data laws for the internet age with a Digital Bill of Rights.

b) Giving more powers to cities, counties and councils on the economy and local services.

c) Getting big money out of politics with a £10,000 cap on donations and reform of party political funding.

d) Promoting a new transfer of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

e) Retaining the Barnett Formula as the basis for future spending allocations for Scotland and Northern Ireland, while recognising the findings of the Holtham Commission that the current formula underfunds Wales; we will address the imbalance by immediately entrenching a Barnett floor set at a level which reflects the need for Wales to be funded fairly, and seek over a Parliament to increase the block grant to an equitable level.

f) Delivering better democracy with votes at sixteen, electoral reform and an elected House of Lords.

g) Recognising that a diverse and independent media is essential both to a fair and thriving market and to a pluralistic democracy, and therefore introducing new measures to prevent any individual media organisation having too much control of the national conversation against the public interest.

8. Meet the challenges of a globalised, interdependent world by: 

a) Legislating to guarantee the UK continues to meet the 0.7% of GNI target for development aid.

b) Extending the requirement for country-by-country reporting from banks and extractive industries to all UK listed companies.

c) Working to ensure the UK plays a full part in Europe, and holding an In/Out referendum when there is next any treaty change involving a material transfer of sovereignty from the UK to the EU.

d) Working to secure binding global agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and a commitment within the EU to a 50% reduction by 2030.

e) Leading global nuclear disarmament by reducing our stockpile of nuclear missiles.

 

Applicability: Federal, except 3 c) (lines 69-71), 4 a)-d) (lines 78-86), 5 a) and b) (lines 92-94), 5 e)-f) (lines 99-103), 7 b) (lines 122-123) and aspects of 4 e) (lines 87-90) which are England only, and 6 a)-c) (lines 106-111) which are England and Wales.

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