Liberal Democrat 2024 election manifesto: What it says on NHS, cost of living and immigration

webnexttech | Liberal Democrat 2024 election manifesto: What it says on NHS, cost of living and immigration

The Liberal Democrats have launched their general election manifesto, with promises to invest in health and care, tackle sewage in British waters and repair the UK’s “broken relationship” with Europe. The party has also promised a ‘fair, effective’ immigration system. The Lib Dems want to cut energy bills, tackle rising food prices and get mortgage rates under control, according to the manifesto. The document published today (June 10) also commits to maintaining the triple lock on the state pension, as other parties have promised. It comes as the big political parties publish their general manifestos this week. The Conservatives are set to launch their manifesto on Tuesday (June 11), with the Greens revealing their’s on Wednesday (June 12), followed by Labour’s launch on Thursday (June 13). READ MORE: All the Greater Manchester candidates standing in the general election 2024 Nigel Farage’s Reform UK will release its ‘contract with the people’ in full on June 17. George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain has already published its manifesto. Here are the main headlines from the Lib Dem manifesto. NHS and health The Lib Dem manifesto promises everyone in England “the right to see a GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if they urgently need to”. The announcement, which promises 8,000 more GPs, was trailed by the party ahead of the manifesto launch as part of a £9.4bn package for the NHS and social care in England, paid for by hiking taxes for banks and closing finance loopholes used by the super-rich. The Liberal Democrats also want to guarantee access to NHS dentistry for those in need of urgent care, and promise to improve early access to mental health services by establishing new hubs for young people in every community and introducing check-ups at key points in their lives. The Lib Dems also want to boost cancer survival rates by introducing a guarantee for every patient to start treatment for cancer within 62 days from urgent referral. The party also wants to help people to spend five more years of their life in good health by investing in public health. The manifesto commits to implementing the recommendations of the UK Infected Blood Inquiry in full, including “full and fair compensation to all victims of the scandal in a timely and transparent manner”. Cost of living and taxes As part of their economic programme, the Liberal Democrats want to create “long-term help with the cost of living”. They would aim to cut energy bills through an upgrade programme, tackle rising food prices through a National Food Strategy, and get mortgage rates under control through “careful economic management”. A costings document estimates the home energy upgrade programme, alongside other measures to tackle climate change, would cost £8.4 billion. The party also promises to reverse tax cuts for big banks and imposing a windfall tax on the ‘super-profits’ of oil and gas producers and traders. The Lib Dems have vowed to maintain the triple lock on the state pension, in a move similar to that of Labour and the Conservatives. They have also pledged to ensure women born in the 1950s who have been affected by pension age changes are “treated fairly and properly compensated”. Immigration The Lib Dems say they are fighting for a ‘fair, effective’ immigration system that ‘treats everyone with dignity and respect’. They pledge to scrap the Rwanda deportation scheme and invest in officers, training and technology to tackle smuggling and modern slavery. They also promise to tackle the asylum backlog by creating a dedicated unit to speed up and improve decision-making, aiming to process each claim within three months. They would also lift the ban on asylum seekers working within three months of their arrival. The party will work closely with Europol – the EU’s law enforcement agency – and the French authorities to stop the smuggling and trafficking gangs behind dangerous Channel crossings. The Lib Dems say they’d provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees. Defence The Lib Dems have said they would reverse cuts to the army with a longer-term ambition of increasing regular troop numbers back to over 100,000. The party has also committed to maintaining the UK’s support for NATO if in power and increase defence spending in every year of the Parliament, with an ambition to spend at least 2.5% of GDP on defence. The Lib Dems have committed to maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent with four submarines providing continuous at-sea deterrence, while pursuing multilateral global disarmament. The party has also pledged to control arms exports to countries with poor human rights records. The Lib Dem manifesto also promises a ‘fair deal’ for service personnel and veterans. The environment Sewage is the Lib Dems’ headline pledge from their Natural Environment manifesto chapter. It reads: “We will end the sewage scandal by transforming water companies into public benefit companies, banning bonuses for water bosses until discharges and leaks end, and replacing Ofwat with a tough new regulator with powers to prevent sewage dumps.” According to party proposals, legally binding targets to prevent sewage dumping into bathing waters and highly sensitive nature sites would come into force by 2030. Education The manifesto pledges to increase school and college funding per pupil “above the rate of inflation every year” in its education offer. The party also wants to invest in new school and college buildings to end the “scandal” of the crumbling schools estate. The cost of this is, alongside clearing a repairs backlog, is estimated to be £1.9 billion. The party has also promised to invest in high-quality early years education and reinstate maintenance grants for disadvantaged university students immediately. Housing Liberal Democrats would support building 10 new garden cities, according to the manifesto. The pledge is part of the party’s plan to build 380,000 new homes a year across the UK, including 150,000 social homes a year. Some £6.2 billion would be spent towards meeting the social homes target. The party has also promised a ‘fair deal’ for renters by immediately banning no-fault evictions, making three-year tenancies the default and creating a national register of licensed landlords. The Lib Dems have also committed to giving local authorities the powers to end the Right to Buy scheme – which allows tenants to buy their council homes – abolish residential leaseholds and cap ground rents. The party has also pledged to end rough sleeping within the next Parliament. Transport The Lib Dems have said they would review the cancellation of HS2’s northern leg, “to see if it can still be delivered in a way that provides value for money, including by encouraging private investment, or if an alternative is viable”. They have also vowed to protect motorists from “rip-offs”, including unfair insurance prices. Care The Lib Dems want to give unpaid carers a right to paid carers’ leave from work and a statutory guarantee of regular respite breaks. The manifesto includes a pledge to expand access to carers’ allowance, a subject close to party leader Sir Ed Davey’s heart, and to stop pursuing anyone who has been overpaid the benefit in the past. To create a longer-term settlement on social care, the party wants to establish a “cross-party commission” to create agreement about a sustainable funding model. Europe The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto vows to repair the UK’s “broken relationship with Europe”, signalling that the party would want to redraw the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU as part of a series of measures aimed at improving economic stability and providing growth. As part of this offer, the party says it would eventually seek to rejoin the EU single market “once ties of trust and friendship have been renewed”. Political reform The Lib Dems would introduce a form of proportional representation for parliamentary elections, via the single transferrable vote method. This method of voting allows electors to rank their preference of candidates on the ballot. The party previously sought to change the UK’s voting system while in the coalition Government under then-leader Nick Clegg, but voters rejected the plan in a 2011 referendum. Rights and freedoms New flexible working rights would be introduced from “day one” of a job by the Lib Dems, as well as rights to parental leave and pay. The party would also seek to reverse what it calls the “Conservatives’ draconian anti-protest laws”, introduced in recent years, including halting the use of facial recognition technology by the police. The Lib Dems have promised to give Parliament time to fully debate and pass legislation on assisted dying rights for terminally ill adults. The manifesto also vows to “respect and defend the rights of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including trans and non-binary people”, and pledges to ban all forms of conversion therapies and practices.

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