Rough sleeping across England soars by 39.4% in past year

Figures show the number of households assessed as rough sleeping across England have soared by 39.4% in the past year, up from 8,310 to 11,580.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who earlier this month held a House of Commons debate on rough sleeping, has called on the government to take action to live up to their manifesto commitment of ending rough sleeping across the country stating that we are “in dire need of action”. 

The Lib Dem MP also called out the "heartless" cut to Universal Credit saying that it would "plunge even more people into poverty."

The figures show a huge rise in rough sleeping across the nation's capital London, with a 66% increase in rough sleeping bringing the total to a staggering 11,580.

Commenting on the stats, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: 

"With rough sleeping figures tragically spiralling one thing is clear; we are in dire need of action from this Government who made a manifesto promise to end rough sleeping.

"Yet, despite making this promise, they are working against this goal. They have failed to scrap the Vagrancy Act, which criminalises rough sleepers, and their heartless cut to the Universal Credit uplift will plunge even more people into poverty. 

"The Conservatives need to get serious about eliminating rough sleeping or risk breaking yet another promise to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"The Liberal Democrats understand that we need to treat rough sleepers like people, giving them the support they want and need on an individual basis. That starts by scrapping the Vagrancy Act, rolling out Housing First across England, and the Government committing to long-term funding for councils to give them the certainty they need."


Covid winter plan: PM must guarantee schools will stay open

The Liberal Democrats are calling on Boris Johnson to give a “cast-iron guarantee” to parents that schools will not be shut again as part of the Government’s Covid winter plan, after the chaos of the last year which saw pupils miss out on 33 million days of schooling.

The Liberal Democrats are also calling for more funding to ensure schools can stay open safely as Covid cases rise, including to improve ventilation and install an air purifier in every classroom. 

The Government still refuses to fund these vital safety measures, and instead suggested children learn outside in the cold during the winter months. 

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said:

“Our children have been failed by the Conservatives throughout this pandemic. Pupils have missed out on millions of days of vital teaching and their parents have been left to pick up the pieces.

“Boris Johnson must give a cast-iron guarantee to parents that schools will remain open this winter so that younger generations aren’t let down yet again.

“More funding and equipment is urgently needed to ensure schools can stay open safely, including providing an air purifier in every classroom.

“Instead, Gavin Williamson’s master plan so far seems to be forcing our children to learn out in the cold. Our children deserve better than this.”


Schools: Davey calls on PM to provide proper catch-up funding

Yesterday, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP has called on the Prime Minister to provide proper funding so that children can catch up on the education they missed during during the pandemic.
 
Ed Davey said:
 
“Boris Johnson’s refusal to fund his own adviser’s education catch-up plan is a shocking betrayal of our children’s futures.
 
“As children go back to school, parents are understandably anxious about all the learning they've missed out on during Covid.
 
“Children, parents and teachers have done everything that’s been asked of them during the Covid crisis, but have been let down repeatedly by the appalling failures of Gavin Williamson and this Conservative Government.
 
“Tory Ministers must listen to what parents are telling them and stump up the cash schools need to make up for the learning all children have lost during the pandemic.”

Probation report: Invest in drug treatment to cut crime

Responding to HM Inspectorate of Probation’s report exposing the lack of specialist drug treatment for people on probation, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:


“The Conservatives abject failure to tackle the causes of crime is making our communities less safe.
 
“We know that effective drug treatment – both in prison and in the community – is crucial for stopping people from reoffending. We know that drug-related crime costs taxpayers £9 billion every year. So why won’t the Government invest what is needed to treat drug addiction and stop more people becoming victims of crime?
 
“Sadly, Conservative Ministers are spending too much time trying to sound tough on crime, and not doing what will actually work to prevent it.
 
“To break the cycle of reoffending, we must turn prisons into places of recovery and rehabilitation, and ensure that people get the treatment they need while on probation too. We must also tackle the childhood trauma that often drives both drug use and offending, and causes lasting damage throughout people's lives.”

Afghanistan: Terrorists will begin plotting and Ministers must act


Unemployment stats: Figures belie scale of challenge ahead


Raab's sticking plaster on aid: Outrageous

Responding to Dominic Raab's comments on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme where he said he would increase the aid budget he "slashed to the bone" by 10%, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:  

"It is outrageous that the Foreign Secretary has come out of hiding to announce this pitiful amount of support. This is the same person who cynically slashed aid to vulnerable women and girls in Afghanistan, making life even harder for people in the country. 
 
"Raab and his heartless Government cut aid funding to the bone and now they're trying to put a sticking plaster over their failures.
 
"They should do the honourable thing and immediately recommit pre-aid cut levels to Afghanistan to support those women and girls who need it now more than ever.
 
"Dominic Raab's legacy as Foreign Secretary will no doubt be one of shame and downright incompetence."

Holidaymakers paying millions for PCR tests that aren’t checked for new variants, research reveals


Kabul airport: Create safe corridor to offer a new escape route

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to work with international allies to secure a safe corridor of land in Afghanistan, to allow more people an escape route from the Taliban to an international border. 

Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, said:

"The scenes from Kabul airport this morning are heartbreaking and we must offer a new way out for those desperate to escape the terror of the Taliban.
 
"A safe corridor of land from Kabul to an international border may offer an escape route from this murderous, tyrannical and barbaric regime. The government must make this their top priority today, and secure such a humanitarian corridor with international allies."
 
"All those who need to escape the Taliban, especially women and girls, must be given the chance. The Prime Minister needs to show international leadership and start work with our allies on this immediately."
 

Kabul: Our international leaders should hang their heads in shame

Responding to the latest news that the Taliban have entered the outskirts of Kabul in Afghanistan, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

“My thoughts are with the Afghan people. Millions will be fearing for their lives - those who have any connection to coalition forces in particular. Women and girls will be terrified that their liberties and rights are about to be permanently extinguished. It is utterly dreadful. My thoughts are also with those in the British armed forces who gave so much to keep them safe for so long.

“We must not conclude that this rapid collapse was inevitable. It was not. We must never forget that the scenes playing out before our eyes are a direct result of the decisions taken by President Biden, the UK Government and other coalition forces. Today, our leaders should all hang their heads in shame.

“To say it is too late is not good enough. In the UK the Prime Minister should call in all political parties and ensure that we respond with unity and purpose.”


Govt record on electric vehicles "frankly embarrassing"

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government as new statistics reveal just 292 new “rapid” electric vehicle chargers were installed in the last three months, in spite of Tory promises to dramatically increase the number of fast chargers.

The news comes as the Prime Minister’s COP26 Spokesperson Allegra Stratton said she was sticking with her diesel car because of concerns about range and recharging - suggesting she would buy an EV if “the stop times for recharging improve so much that it’s half an hour.”

Rapid chargers will charge an EV from 0% to 80% in roughly the same time Ms Stratton desires, rather than the 8 hours that a standard “fast” charger takes.

Earlier this year, the Conservatives cut grants available to new electric vehicle owners and the number of new electric vehicle charging devices installed dropped by 30% last year compared to the year before.

Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport, said:

“Once again the Tories are doing one thing but saying another. They say that by 2030 all new cars sold should be electric, yet they’re doing everything they can to put people off buying electric vehicles. Even the PM’s climate spokesperson says she doesn’t ‘fancy’ owning one.

“For a Government all too happy to grandstand about ambitious climate change targets, their record on electric vehicles is frankly embarrassing and tells you all you need to know about how seriously the Tories are taking the climate crisis.

“Liberal Democrats call on the Conservatives to reverse the damage they’ve done by increasing, not cutting, the Plug-In Car Grant and investing in more charging points - particularly rapid chargers in rural areas.”


1m children not in school: Education crisis worsening by the day

Munira Wilson MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health and parent of a child told to stay at home due to covid rules, responds to news that 1 million children are currently not attending school:

"We are in the midst of an education crisis which is worsening by the day.
 
"As a parent myself with a child told to stay at home right now, I know how tough it is when the dreaded text from school arrives.
 
"Behind this number are children without laptops, untold impacts on their mental health and parents forced to stay at home instead of working.
 
"The Prime Minister needs to act today on this if schools are to return in Autumn. He must act without delay to protect millions of children's mental health and wellbeing.  As he told the country last night - If not now, then when?"

Building Safety Crisis: Inquiry into Govt's mishandling needed

Today there will be a vote in Parliament on establishing an independent inquiry into the Government’s mishandling of the cladding scandal. 

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Daisy Cooper MP, will put forward a Ten Minute Rule Motion for MPs to vote on this afternoon.

It follows the passing of the Fire Safety Bill in April, which failed to provide vital protection for leaseholders and tenants against the costs of remediation.

Ms Cooper will call for the inquiry to focus on three areas in particular:

  1. The Government’s failures to date

  2. The faulty design of the Building Safety Fund

  3. The gaping hole between the Prime Minister’s promises and his Government’s actions

Ahead of her speech in the House of Commons today, Daisy Cooper MP said:

“After the Grenfell tragedy, the Conservative Government said “never again” - but four years later its own handling of the building safety crisis has degenerated into a national scandal of epic proportions.

“It’s incomprehensible that the government still doesn’t know the scale of the challenge, has cobbled together a feeble package of support that excludes so many of those who are affected, and is now actively back-tracking on its promise to protect innocent leaseholders from the extortionate costs of fire safety problems that are not of their making. 

“The Government has turned its back on blameless fire safety victims at every turn, leaving innocent people at personal risk and in financial ruin, burdening them with sky-high bills and unsafe, unsellable properties. An inquiry is now needed to investigate why the Conservative Government has made so little progress in tackling the fire safety scandal and why it keeps putting the interests of the big developers ahead of innocent fire safety victims. 

“Liberal Democrats are calling for a public inquiry so those affected can get the justice and answers they deserve.”


Priti Patel’s Anti-Refugee Bill is “cruel and counterproductive”

Responding to the publication of the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill earlier this week, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

 

“This Anti-Refugee Bill is a truly nasty piece of legislation from a Conservative Government that is ripping up the UK’s proud tradition of providing sanctuary to refugees.

 

“We need to fix our asylum system, combat the criminal gangs who profit from trafficking and smuggling, and stop people from making dangerous attempts to cross the Channel. 

 

“Priti Patel’s proposals will do nothing to help. In fact, the Anti-Refugee Bill will make those problems worse. It will add even more delay, increasing the Home Office’s already huge backlog. And it will play into the hands of human traffickers, by making it harder for their victims to come forward and get the support they need.

 

“Instead of pressing ahead with her cruel and counterproductive legislation, Priti Patel should focus on providing safe and legal routes for refugees to come to the UK. That’s the best way to tackle these criminal gangs, stop dangerous boat crossings, and uphold our obligation to protect the world’s most vulnerable people.”


£37bn Test and Trace has been "horror show from the get go"

Reacting to the appearance of Dido Harding and Dr Jenny Harries before the Public Accounts Committee today, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health Munira Wilson MP said:

“Dido Harding offered up the understatement of the century today when she said some people may find her assertion that Test and Trace has been a success to be ‘rather incredulous’. 

“The reality is that it has been a £37bn horror show from the get go.

"Earlier this year, the Public Accounts Committee found that it had made little impact on the number of cases despite this colossal budget. SAGE also adjudged Test and Trace to be having a 'marginal impact'.

“The system consistently failed last year to trace those who had come in contact with the virus. The Government’s efforts would now be better placed in providing proper support for self-isolation, so that workers and families do not have to break the rules for lack of money. That would be a far better use of taxpayers' money.”


Chancellor must fix 'black hole' in business support

"This Government seems incapable of hearing the many voices telling them loudly and clearly how desperately small businesses need support to help them cope with the extra period of restrictions, and beyond.

"It is completely incomprehensible that the Chancellor is prepared to end so many of the support mechanisms before firms even have a chance to open their doors and start trading.

"Why support them for this long and then not see them through to the end? 

"The black-hole in business support they have created is particularly unfair to the night-time economy, which is being forced to set aside thousands of pounds before able to welcome a single customer.

"The Chancellor has taken his eye off the ball and needs to come up with a long term plan before it is too late. Thousands of closures and job losses are at stake."


Munira Wilson secures social care talks with Javid

Munira Wilson has secured a commitment from the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, to meet to discuss social care reforms, as the Liberal Democrats continue to push for full cross-party talks on the issue.

In the House of Commons this afternoon, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care highlighted the tens of thousands of people who have died from Covid in care homes, as well as the 7 million carers who have seen their mental health worsen during the pandemic.

She asked Javid for a meeting with herself and the party’s Leader Ed Davey to start cross-party work on social care reform, and the Health Secretary agreed.

 

Following the exchange, Munira Wilson MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, said:

 

“We urgently need to build cross-party agreement on a long-term sustainable future for social care.

 

“As things stand, more than 1.5 million people are missing out on the care they need. People are stranded in hospital, unable to leave because follow-up care just does not exist. The NHS, local councils and unpaid carers are all under huge and growing pressure.

 

“We had repeatedly asked Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to meet with us and start cross-party work on this, but our pleas fell on deaf ears. I’m glad that the new Health Secretary at least seems willing to talk.

 

“People needing care and their families have been left waiting far too long for the system to be fixed. Liberal Democrats will continue to push for the progress they desperately need.”


Hancock resignation was inevitable

Reacting to the news that Matt Hancock has resigned as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“Matt Hancock's resignation was inevitable. You cannot be a rule maker and rule breaker. His hypocrisy undermined the efforts of millions of Brits who have made huge sacrifices to keep everyone safe throughout this pandemic.

"Just yesterday, the Prime Minister swiftly came to the conclusion that the matter was closed. He was wrong. His judgement is now seriously under question.

“When it comes to standards in public life, it is clear that Boris Johnson does not share the same values as the rest of us. From Covid rule breaking to bullying allegations, the Prime Minister has repeatedly looked the other way.
 
“Ultimately, Boris Johnson’s judgement during this pandemic will be assessed at the public inquiry. If he wants to maintain the respect of the public, he should set it up immediately.”

Home Secretary must drop "dystopian" asylum proposals

Responding to the Home Secretary’s plans to hold asylum seekers in an offshore “processing centre”, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“Shipping asylum seekers off to so-called ‘processing centres’ in Rwanda would be an appalling and inhumane way to treat some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
 
“The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary and support to those in need, but now Priti Patel and the Conservatives are turning their backs on refugees who are seeking safety.
 
“Treating seekers of sanctuary as criminals is wrong and will only strengthen the position of people smugglers and human traffickers who prey on desperate people trying to cross the Channel.
 
“The best way to tackle these criminal gangs and stop dangerous boat crossings is to provide safe and legal routes for refugees to come to the UK, something the Home Secretary is completely failing to do.
 
“That should be her focus, not these dystopian proposals.”

£90million Pupil Premium cut is "shameful penny pinching"

Responding to the news that the Government has planned to cut Pupil Premium funding by some £90million, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education Daisy Cooper MP said:

"Liberal Democrats warned the government months ago that the most disadvantaged children would lose out on support because of the Government’s shameful penny-pinching.
 
“We wrote to the Education Secretary months ago urging him not to go ahead with this cut and teachers warned of the impact this would have for disadvantaged pupils - but the Government simply refused to listen. The Tories talk about the importance of levelling up in our education system, but the reality is they have cut vital funding which gives support to the poorest pupils.
 
"This will have a devastating impact for pupils who are recovering from months of disruption to their schooling, and comes on top of the paltry education recovery package the Government have offered.
 
"The Government must reverse this disgraceful, short-sighted move and backdate payments to schools for the money they have missed out on.”