Liberal Democrats stand in solidarity with black communities

The Liberal Democrats stand in solidarity with black communities in the UK, US and around the world.

Nationally, the Liberal Democrats have urged the Prime Minister to condemn in the strongest possible terms the language and actions of the US President in response to protests over racial injustice and police brutality since the murder of George Floyd.

Locally, Cllr Mark Hunter, leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, has joined the leaders of the other political groups, reaffirming our opposition to racism and prejudice.

The statement says:

Stockport Council stands together with people here and across the world who face racism and prejudice.

We believe discrimination and oppression have no place in our society and we stand united in solidarity with those who seek to tackle inequalities.

Tolerance, kindness and respect are at the heart of our communities in Stockport and these values underpin our inclusive approach to the way we live. Racism and discrimination have no place in our society and we must, as a community, continue to make a stand.

Tackling inequalities has always been, and will continue to be, our priority.

Speaking after signing the statement, Cllr Hunter said: “The Liberal Democrats exist to fight for justice, liberty and equality. This is especially important at a moment in history where our values are challenged and as liberals we stand on the side of social justice. We must stand in solidarity with black communities in the US, the UK and around the world.

“Whilst condemning what is happing in the US, we cannot forget that black people are suffering at the hands of institutions systematically biased against them here in the UK, as reported in the Lammy Review in 2017. It’s unjust, it’s unfair and it’s racist. The Liberal Democrats stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We fully support all black communities and stand with them against the injustice they face.”

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Lib Dems launch calls for more mental health support for health and care staff across Stockport

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to ramp up mental health support for health and care staff across Stockport to ensure “world-class” support for those tackling the virus head on.

Highlighting the “deep scar” coronavirus will leave on health and care staff across Stockport, the local Liberal Democrats have put forward a package of mental health measures, including:

  • 24/7 access to mental health support for health and social care workers, through a dedicated helpline
  • Guarantees that health and care staff will no longer be penalised for time off due to mental or physical ill health, including when transitioning between roles
  • Introduce an ‘occupational health passport’ so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas when they change jobs.
  • Additional training to ensure there are mental health first-aiders in every health and care workforce
  • Steps to standardise the quality and service offer to ensure that every health and social care worker can access the same, high standard of mental care support regardless of the where in Stockport they are based.

The Liberal Democrats want the roll out of these services to be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams.

If adopted, the proposals will improve access to mental health support for all those working in health and care settings.

Cllr Mark Hunter, Liberal Democrat Group Leader at Stockport Town Hall, said:

“As we all mark Mental Health Week we must recognise that COVID-19 will leave a deep scar on our health and care workforce, who have gone above and beyond to tackle this dreadful virus. Thousands have lost colleagues, endured serious illness, or faced significant trauma.

“Liberal Democrat proposals include a mental health support hotline, open to staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our hospitals and care services are staffed around the clock, so the support services staff need should be too. In addition, we propose measures to ensure NHS and care staff are not penalised for days off due to ill health.

“The UK mental health response to COVID-19 should be world-class. My Liberal Democrat colleagues in parliament are making the case for investing now to prepare for the challenges ahead.”

Cllr Keith Holloway, Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health, said:

“The clap for our carers every Thursday evening is not just a gesture – people want to see those working on the frontline supported throughout the coronavirus crisis and beyond.

“We cannot underestimate the toll this crisis will have on our health and care staff across Stockport. There needs to be long term support to help all those who have risked so much to care for all those affected by the virus.

“Ministers must not stick their heads in the sand. It is essential they roll out these measures urgently, otherwise they are denying our health and care staff support when they need it most.”

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Liberal Democrats urge Government to extend income support for self-employed

The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to extend income support for self-employed workers after they declared victory in convincing the Government to extend furlough payments for employees, preventing redundancies.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey, who is asking the public to join his campaign to protect workers, warned “taxi drivers, hairdressers, cleaners, childcare providers and millions of other self-employed people are still not getting the help they need.”

The call comes after the Chancellor announced the Job Retention Scheme, currently covering nearly a quarter of UK jobs, will continue to October with employees receiving 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“The Furlough scheme has helped protect jobs and it is something the Liberal Democrats have campaigned to protect. So I am delighted the Government has done just that and adopted many of our ideas.”

Cllr Tom Morrison, Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member in Stockport, said:

“There are still millions of people that need significant help though, such as those that recently moved jobs or the self-employed. The Government must look out for these people, currently the system has forgotten them and it’s simply unfair.”

Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Stockport, added:

“The Coronavirus crisis has left countless families facing financial hardship, with unemployment on the rise. We must protect families and our economy for the long term.

“The Liberal Democrats led the campaign for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which finally opened this week. But the Government must extend this scheme too. Self-employed people have waited far too long for this support, and they must not see it snatched away too early.”

The Liberal Democrats are urging people to support the campaign here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/furlough

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GMTC deliberately blocking scrutiny over Coronavirus transport crisis

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Chair of Greater Manchester Transport Committee (GMTC) of deliberately blocking scrutiny and avoiding input from across the region.

The Chair of GMTC, Councillor Mark Aldred, has ignored multiple requests from Liberal Democrat members of the committee to constructively scrutinise how the region’s transport will begin to recover from the Coronavirus crisis once lockdown beings to ease.

Lib Dem representatives on GMTC, John Leech and Howard Sykes, accused Councillor Aldred of deliberately avoiding scrutiny and input from across the region and political divide.

The Liberal Democrats set out five points that GMTC must urgently answer in order to address concerns about how the region’s transport will begin to recover from the Coronavirus crisis:
1. How will social distancing be maintained at the same time as getting people back on public transport
2. Address the budget implications of far fewer passengers and how this will allow us to maintain subsidised bus services
3. The impact on infrastructure and cost of the Government and Council prioritising walking and cycling
4. Concerns raised by bus companies about Andy Burnham not delivering all the money promised to operators
5. How this crisis may affect decisions about franchising bus services

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Manchester John Leech said:

“Everyone is under a lot of strain at the moment but the lack of transparency and communication from the Chair of GMTC with other Transport Committee members and public transport operators has been unacceptable.

“Transport has been one of the most affected areas as a result of the lockdown and the reintroduction needs to be a cross-party, collaborative plan with input from across the region.

“But Councillor Aldred is not learning lessons from last month’s mess and is deliberately keeping other Transport committee members in the dark to avoid scrutiny.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Oldham Howard Sykes added:

“GMTC must get a grip of the crisis by allowing and inviting transparency and constructive scrutiny.

“Members from all political parties on the Greater Manchester Transport Committee must be involved in tackling this crisis to ensure the very best plans are put forward for our region.”

Councillors John Leech and Howard Sykes are the two Liberal Democrat representatives on the Greater Manchester Transport Committee.

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Liberal Democrat VE Day Tribute

Paying tribute to the sacrifices made during the Second World War as the UK marks Victory in Europe Day, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

“On this 75th anniversary of VE Day we remember all those who put their lives at risk to defend our freedoms and defeat fascism.

“Today we honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as all today’s armed forces who continue to sacrifice so much to keep us all safe. We cannot thank them enough for what they are doing at home and around the world today, defending freedom.

“We must never grow complacent or be fooled into thinking that war is impossible. This anniversary we must honour the sacrifices made and recommit to ensuring that international cooperation and hard-won peace across Europe is protected so that we may never suffer the death and destruction of World War II again.

“Although the 75th anniversary of VE Day will be spent under lockdown, we can all take this opportunity to honour those who sacrificed for our freedom.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader at Stockport Town Hall, Councillor Mark Hunter, added:

“None of us will be able to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day in the way that we had planned because of the current coronavirus lockdown. Our thoughts will be with the veterans and the friends and families of those who lost their lives to bring peace to Europe as we mark this anniversary from our own homes.

“Today we remember the millions who died fighting in the war from the safety of my home. I am sincerely grateful for the arrangement of virtual remembrance services in Scotland and across the UK to commemorate the heroes of World War II.”

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Liberal Democrats launch campaign to protect furloughed workers

The Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign to protect furloughed workers and their families with proposals to continue furlough payments when lockdown measures are eased, preventing redundancies.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey, who is asking the public to join his campaign to protect furloughed workers, said his party’s plans would give people “that time and that confidence and help avoid further large-scale job losses.”

The call comes as a challenge to the Chancellor who has raised alarm when he said the level of expenditure on the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) was “not sustainable” and he wanted to “wind down” the scheme. The scheme is currently covering nearly a quarter of UK jobs, 23% of the employed workforce.

The Liberal Democrats have suggested the Treasury pays 50 per cent of employees’ salaries on the Job Retention Scheme in the first month after they have returned to work. By the third month back in work, the government would pay 30 per cent of their salaries, under the proposals.

Cllr Tom Morrison added:

“The Coronavirus crisis has left countless families facing financial hardship, with unemployment rocketing up. Thankfully, the furlough scheme is protecting Stockport workers from redundancy. Everyone knows someone it’s helping.

“But this protection is under threat. The Chancellor said he wants to ‘wind down the scheme.’ This is wrong. This scheme is protecting families and our economy for the long term.

“That is why Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to continue some furlough payments as lockdown is eased so we can help businesses to rebuild, stop job losses and stop unnecessary damage to our communities.

Cllr Lisa Smart said, “The Government’s furlough scheme was a good idea, but we need to ensure employers are ready to move on to the next stage.

“The next few months are going to be critical for Stockport’s economy, it’s therefore vital we get it right, helping local businesses and their staff continue to navigate through this crisis makes perfect sense.”

Juergen Maier, Chair of the Lib Dem Coronavirus Business Taskforce, added:

“The advisory group is concerned that once the furlough scheme comes to an end, many businesses, large and small, will simply not have the cash flow to re-employ staff, as it will take time for the economy to recover.

“If firms then were forced to make staff redundant, leading to another significant rise in unemployment, that could break the economy’s ability to recover, just as we were trying to exit lockdown.”

The Liberal Democrats are urging people to support the campaign here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/furlough

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