18,559 pensioners in Angus hit by Conservative broken promise on triple lock

The Liberal Democrats have published figures showing that 18,559 of State Pensioners in Angus are set to be impacted by the government breaking its manifesto promise and suspending the triple lock on pensions.

The state pension triple lock is a rule that means the state pension must rise each year in line with the highest of three possible figures, inflation, average earnings or 2.5%.

It follows a vote in Parliament on the issue on Monday in which Conservative MPs voted to suspend the triple lock. This is despite a Conservatives manifesto commitment to keep the triple lock in place until 2024, and comes just weeks after Boris Johnson led his Conservative MPs to vote for a promise breaking tax hike on National Insurance. The Liberal Democrats have warned that the Conservatives are “turning their back on local elderly residents,” many of whom are living in poverty. 

The figures, based on analysis by the House of Commons Library commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, show that 21.6% of people in Angus will be hit by the government’s broken promise. They also show that 2,375 pensioners in the area are benefiting from state Pension Credit, which is given to the poorest pensioners.

The Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment in Parliament to the Social Security Bill that called for additional support to address the impact of the pandemic on the two million pensioners currently living in poverty and making the uplift to Universal Credit permanent. Labour abstained on the vote, making the Liberal Democrats the only major UK-wide party to stand up for pensioners and oppose the government’s broken promise to them.

Commenting, Councillor for Monifieth & Sidlaw Ben Lawrie said: 

“This is yet another broken promise from the Conservatives that will hit pensioners in Angus hard in the pocket.

“The government is turning its back on local elderly residents, who risk no longer being able to heat their homes this winter as energy costs spiral.

“Our pensioners deserve a fair deal. The triple lock was a cast iron guarantee that vulnerable elderly people were relying on and the Conservatives have failed them.

“Liberal Democrats are demanding that the government supports the many pensioners in our area living in poverty and ensure that we don’t return to the days of the 75p rise to the state pension.”

7,300 in Angus face “heartless” government Universal Credit Cut

As many as 21% of hard-pressed families across Angus face being left worse off when the government end the uplift to Universal Credit next month. 

New data from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation exposes the true nature of how badly some areas will be hit by the £20 Universal Credit cut, which is opposed by Cllr Ben Lawrie and the Angus Liberal Democrats. 

In the report, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimate that the Universal Credit cut alone could force 500,000 people, almost half of them children, into poverty. Their breakdown shows that some 7,300 families in Angus will be harmed by the governments uplift cut, with 39% of families with children in Angus being affected adversely.

Responding to the data, Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Monifieth & Sidlaw said:

Angus has had to pull itself through this pandemic, while dealing with this incompetent heartless Conservative government, this cut will do untold damage to so many of our local families. 

“There is no question that Government has to reverse this needless cut and support normal working people here. Angus Liberal Democrats are calling for the Universal Credit uplift to be made permanent.”

Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain MP added:

“Just as we begin to hope that Covid is being tamed in the UK, the Government is ripping support from millions of families across the country. We cannot have a full recovery if families are struggling to make ends meet.

“The Prime Minister’s claim that he wants people to live by their own ‘efforts’ rather than ‘welfare’ shows how out of touch he really is. With almost half of those receiving Universal Credit already in work and with many having young families, this cut will leave parents and their children behind despite their efforts.”

Afghan refugees are welcome in Angus

Angus Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to make a more ambitious commitment to resettle refugees fleeing the Taliban, and to give Angus Council extra funding to house and support them here.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government’s commitment to resettle just 5,000 Afghan refugees across the UK over the next year, saying it “falls woefully short” of what is needed in response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

The party also highlighted that 37 people have been resettled in Angus since 2014, under the previous Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme for refugees of the conflict in Syria.

Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Monifieth and Sidlaw, said:

“Angus has a proud record of providing sanctuary to those in need. We have given a new home to 37 refugees fleeing the awful violence in Syria, and I know local people will welcome those escaping the Taliban now too.

“The Government must live up to its obligations by giving Angus Council and local authorities across the UK extra funding so we can house, support and integrate these refugees properly.”

Alistair Carmichael MP, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, added:

“It’s now or never to save innocent people from the terror of the Taliban. The Government must step up urgently and offer safe and legal routes to the UK for Afghan refugees who’ve been forced to flee their homes.

“A humanitarian crisis is unfolding before our eyes, and Priti Patel’s promise to resettle just 5,000 refugees over the next 12 months falls woefully short of meeting that challenge. I know the UK can do far better than that.”

Carers Week: Lib Dems call to give Angus carers a break

This Carers Week the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to provide emergency funding to give carers a break from dramatically increased caring responsibilities during the Covid pandemic:

More than 7,564 people in Angus are looking after elderly, disabled or vulnerable people. Data from Carers UK shows 64% of carers have not been able to take any sort of a break during the pandemic.

The call from the Liberal Democrats to give councils immediate emergency funding so they can provide the support services unpaid carers need to take a weekly break comes during Carers Week, an annual campaign to recognise the contribution of unpaid carers across the UK.

At the start of Carers Week, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

“This pandemic has shown that we are a nation of carers. But people looking after their loved ones are still too often forgotten and ignored by people in power.

“The Government must finally recognise the enormous contribution that unpaid carers make, and give them the support they deserve.

“Liberal Democrats are standing up for carers and working to build a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic.”

Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Monifieth and Sidlaw added:

“People in Angus looking after their loved ones are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances.

“Angus’ unpaid carers have taken on dramatically increased caring responsibilities during this pandemic. Most haven’t been able to take a single break since the pandemic started. Most are simply exhausted.

“This Carers Week, Liberal Democrats are campaigning for our wonderful carers in Angus to be given a break.”

340 EU Citizens in Angus stuck in Home Office backlog.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for all EU citizens in the UK to be given the automatic right to stay, as new figures reveal that 340 living in Angus are still waiting for the Home Office to process their applications – with just five weeks to go before the Government’s deadline.

The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics show that, as of the end of March, there have been 4,980 applications from people living in Angus, but only 4,640 of these have been concluded.

The party is warning that those who aren’t given ‘Settled Status’ by the 30th June could become the victims of “a new Windrush-style scandal”.

The figures also reveal that 1,910 people in Angus have only been granted temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’. That means a total of 2,250 Angus applicants have still not been given the permanent right to stay.

Responding to the figures, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Monifieth & Sidlaw Ben Lawrie said:

“340 of our European friends and neighbours in Angus still don’t know what will happen to them at the end of June. They are being forced to cross their fingers and hope the Home Office get to their application in time.

“EU citizens who’ve made their lives in Angus contribute enormously to our economy, our public services and our society. They shouldn’t be forced to live with this uncertainty and anxiety any longer.”

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael added:

“Boris Johnson promised all EU citizens the automatic right to stay, but this enormous backlog and the growing number of refusals show that the Settled Status scheme is anything but automatic.

“It’s not too late, but the Government must act now to prevent a new Windrush-style scandal in just a few weeks.”

Give EU Citizens in the UK automatic right to stay – it’s their home too

“Level the Playing Field” for small shops over Christmas

The Angus & Mearns Liberal Democrats have today called on the Chancellor to “level the playing field” to help small high streets compete with internet giants in the run up to Christmas.

The Liberal Democrats fear local shops hit by decreased footfall during the coronavirus pandemic will continue to struggle and have therefore proposed a new scheme in a similar vein to how the Eat Out to Help Out scheme aided restaurants.

To encourage people to shop local from home to save the high street, the Party wants to see the Government cover the costs of postage and have appealed to MPs to back the campaign. 

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed the idea to help firms survive. Mike Cherry, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “This is the type of creative idea that would boost small businesses and balance out the playing field.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Angus Cllr Ben Lawrie said:

“Small businesses in Angus are worried about their ability to stay afloat over the coming months. For so many, Christmas is their most lucrative time of year but coronavirus restrictions have caused footfall to nosedive.

“When people turn online to do their Christmas shopping, free postage offers from online shopping giants are incredibly tempting. That makes it even tougher for small businesses in Angus, putting our high streets at further risk. Ministers must level the playing field.”

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP added:

“In the Summer, the Chancellor launched a campaign to support the hospitality sector. We now need to see this Government go the extra mile to support small business in the festive period.

“We want the Chancellor to pay the postage on online purchases from small local independent shops to make them a more viable option for people hunting for Christmas presents and encourage people to shop small from home.”

Mike Cherry, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“This is the type of creative idea that would boost small businesses and balance out the playing field.

“We must do everything we can to help our small, independent stores.

“This is going to be the most important festive season our economy has ever seen and could be make-or-break for some of our small businesses.

“That’s why we must pull out all the stops to help them survive the end of 2020 and beyond.”

7,110 pensioners in Angus lose free TV licenses

At their Autumn Conference this weekend, the Liberal Democrats have agreed proposals that would see the BBC licence fee level set independently next year after government cuts forced the BBC to end free TV licences for most over-75s.

As of 1 August 2020, TV licences are now only free for people over the age of 75 if they are receiving pension credit. According to analysis by the Liberal Democrats, this dramatic cut has impacted 7,110 people in Angus.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper warned the ending free TV licences for the over 75s “could push some of the poorest pensioners into poverty, jars with common decency.”

The Party is also fighting for review of the decision to cut hundreds of BBC staff working across regional programmes and agreed new measures to ensure the BBC workforce is more diverse and reflective of the country it serves.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Angus, Cllr Ben Lawrie said:

“We are amid a national crisis. It is outrageous that 7,110 people in Angus have lost free access to public broadcasts at a time when it could not be more important, especially for those who are vulnerable or isolated.

“Liberal Democrats are calling for an independent body to review the license fee. We also want to see the Government step in now and provide funding to reinstate free licenses given the crisis we are facing.”

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper, Daisy Cooper MP added:

“Ending free TV licences for the over 75s, which could push some of the poorest pensioners into poverty, jars with common decency.  

“We must be clear: the responsibility of these cuts falls squarely at the feet of Conservative Ministers. People deserve better.”

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper warned the ending free TV licences for the over 75s “could push some of the poorest pensioners into poverty, jars with common decency.”

The Party is also fighting for review of the decision to cut hundreds of BBC staff working across regional programmes and agreed new measures to ensure the BBC workforce is more diverse and reflective of the country it serves.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Angus, Cllr Ben Lawrie said:

“We are amid a national crisis. It is outrageous that 7,110 people in Angus have lost free access to public broadcasts at a time when it could not be more important, especially for those who are vulnerable or isolated.

“Liberal Democrats are calling for an independent body to review the license fee. We also want to see the Government step in now and provide funding to reinstate free licenses given the crisis we are facing.”

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper, Daisy Cooper MP added:

“Ending free TV licences for the over 75s, which could push some of the poorest pensioners into poverty, jars with common decency.  

“We must be clear: the responsibility of these cuts falls squarely at the feet of Conservative Ministers. People deserve better.”

“Furlough must be extended” as 6.5% of Angus claim Universal Credit.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an extension of the Government’s furlough scheme until the jobs market is “ready to bounce back” in the wake of “staggering job losses” across the country. 

With 6.5% of people now relying on Universal Credit in Angus, the Party claims that extending furlough would help “stop this crisis getting even worse” and protect jobs for the future. 

Despite the Chancellor promising last month to do “whatever it takes” to support households and businesses through the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, the Government has so far failed to agree a plan beyond the end of the furlough scheme on 31 October.

The Liberal Democrats have also warned some of the worst hit are the country’s self-employed workers, three million of which are still not covered by support. The Party has called for support to be extended and urged the public to join its campaign to protect jobs.

Cllr Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Angus said:

“With so many families in crisis, the Government should be doing everything in its power to protect jobs in Angus and right across the country.

“The fact that 3,360 people are now relying Universal Credit in Angus shows exactly why the Chancellor must extend the furlough scheme, at least until the middle of next year. 

“Ministers need to act now to stop this crisis getting even worse and extend financial support for the millions of people currently excluded from the Government assistance.”

Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, added: 

“We are seeing staggering job losses, even with the furlough scheme in place.

“People have a right to expect that their Government will stand by them in exactly the way that Rishi Sunak promised when he said he would “do whatever it takes.”

“The Liberal Democrats’ are clear that the Government must extend the furlough scheme until the jobs market is ready to bounce back.”

Govt Must Extend Support to Protect Angus Jobs

The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to continue furlough support until it is safe to do so and extend support to those who have so far been excluded by the Government.

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP, who is asking the public to join his campaign to protect workers, warned the “pandemic hasn’t affected everyone equally” and called for the Government to do more.

According to government statistics published this week, 14,700 people in Angus have benefited from the job retention scheme.

Government statistics also show a further 3,300 people in Angus are receiving financial support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, following a successful campaign by the Liberal Democrats.

However, the Party has warned some of the worst hit are the country’s self-employed workers, three million of which are still not covered by government support. 

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP said:

“The Coronavirus crisis is leaving thousands of families facing financial uncertainty. We must recognise the pandemic hasn’t affected everyone equally.

“Ministers must resolve the gaps in their plans by helping those who recently became self-employed by expanding the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Angus, Cllr Ben Lawrie added:

“We have all heard too many heart-breaking stories from those who have lost their livelihoods overnight as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“It is simply unacceptable so many people in need are excluded from support for entirely arbitrary reasons. The Government should listen to Liberal Democrat plans to protect jobs and ensure no one is left behind.”

Lib Dems call for greater powers for Angus Council to tackle carbon emissions

The Liberal Democrats are calling for greater powers for local authorities to take action on carbon emissions as figures show progress to cut emissions across the UK has stalled since 2016. 

In Angus emissions have fallen from 683.1 to 646 not fast enough to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050. 

Highlighting the need for “action now, not promises”, the Liberal Democrats are calling for more powers for those who are “best-placed to tackle the climate emergency in their areas”: local authorities. 

Cllr Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Angus said: 

“The Liberal Democrats are fighting to tackle the climate emergency, and that includes here in Angus. We have a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045, but – as things stand – we’ll struggle to even meet the 2050 deadline.  

“Local authorities are best placed to tackle the climate emergency in their area. We are calling for the Government to give local authorities more powers to take action on carbon emissions. This means powers to tackle congestion, invest in public transport, insulate our homes, and create new green jobs.”

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency and Environment said:

“These statistics prove – yet again – that we’re not making anywhere near fast enough progress to tackle the climate emergency. We need climate action now, not promises to act tomorrow. Climate action delay is no better than climate change denial.

“The next generation are looking to us and we have a duty to act.”