Here we find ourselves again. It is now coming up on two years since the Conservatives' first threatened to break international law over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Then, this time last year, we heard the continued threats over Article 16 which threatened to overshadow the G7 summit in Cornwall. And now, we are awaiting a rumoured announcement from the Foreign Secretary regarding legislation which will, reportedly, unilaterally rip up the Protocol.
South West Wiltshire'sLiberal Democrats have slammed Andrew MurrisonMPfor voting against an emergency tax cut in the House of Commons onWednesday.
It comes as over 300 Conservative MPs voted against the measures put forward by the Liberal Democrats to cut VAT from 20% to 17.5%.
This proposal would be set to save families in South West Wiltshire an average of £600 each, and would also reduce inflation by keeping prices down in the shops. However, it was blocked after the Conservatives voted it down.
The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to immediately bring in an emergency tax cut to help families facing soaring inflation and rising prices. The party is also calling for a windfall tax on the massive profits of oil and gas companies, to fund extra support for the most vulnerable families.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the South West Wiltshire, Ellen Nicholson, has slammed the local Conservative MP for voting against the tax cut.
"People in Wiltshire are struggling with skyrocketing energy bills and rising food and fuel prices.
"But the Conservatives have done nothing to help, and instead have blocked our calls for an emergency tax cut. Families and pensioners in Wiltshire deserve better than Andrew Murrison, who voted against tax cuts put forward by the Lib Dems.
"The Liberal Democrats are fighting for a better deal for communities being let down and taken for granted by this Conservative government. Our plans for a VAT cut would put money back into people's pockets and boost spending in our high streets to support the economy."
Full voting record on the Lib Dem amendment to the Queen's Speech, which would have introduced an emergency VAT cut, can be found here.
Responding to the news the Met Police have concluded their partygate investigation with a total of 126 fines issued, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:
"This police investigation confirms Boris Johnson's Downing Street was fined more times for breaking Covid laws than any other address in the country. It exposes a shocking level of criminality at the heart of Johnson's Number 10.
"It beggars belief that Conservative MPs are allowing our great country to be run by a prime minister who broke the law then repeatedly lied about it.
"The full Sue Gray report should now be published without delay, and the parliamentary inquiry should be launched into Johnson's lies.
"The public made huge sacrifices while Boris Johnson partied, they deserve the full truth."
Lib Dems call for urgent plan to improve cancer care after NHS targets missed in worst ever performance
Over 2,000 people are missing out on a timely diagnosis every day while 15,000 are left waiting two months or more to start treatment
Ministers accused of "sitting on their hands" while people are being left in pain
The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to come forward with an urgent strategy to improve cancer care, after new statistics revealed that NHS England has yet again missed all four of its major targets for cancer waiting times.
Analysis by the party shows that from January to March 2022, nearly 150,000 people waited longer than two weeks to see a consultant after an urgent referral from their GP, or an average of 1,600 per day.
It means only 78% of people saw a consultant within two weeks of a GP referral, way below the NHS target of 93%.
The figures also show that almost 200,000 or 29.5% of people waited longer than 28 days to get a cancer diagnosis from their specialist after an urgent referral from a GP. This means the target of 75% of people getting their diagnosis within this time was missed and that the equivalent of over 2,000 people per day missed out on a timely diagnosis.
Over 6,000 (7.7%) patients waited a month or more to begin their first treatment after a decision to treat the cancer, almost double the 4% target.
Meanwhile, 15,000 or over one third of people waited two months or more to start cancer treatment after a referral from their GP. This means a target of 85% of people starting treatment within that period is being badly missed by 21 points.
It comes after no reference was made to improving cancer care in last week's Queen's Speech. Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron has tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech, calling for a comprehensive strategy to be put forward on how the Government plans to meet a commitment for 80% of patients to be seen within two months by 2023. The party is also calling for the Government to hire more health staff, particularly specialist cancer nurses.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:
"This Conservative Government has no real plan to fix the crisis in cancer waiting times. Ministers are sitting on their hands while people are being left in pain, or have to watch their loved ones suffering.
"The Conservatives have taken the NHS for granted for years and have their heads in the sand over huge staff shortages. The Queen's Speech didn't mention cancer care and Boris Johnson hasn't even brought forward any new legislation to tackle this mess.
"He needs to bring forward a plan now - people bravely battling cancer deserve far better than being abandoned by a Government that doesn't do enough to ease their burden."
Source: NHS England: Statistics on Waiting Times for Suspected and Diagnosed Cancer Patients Q4 2021/22 Key Points - Provider Based - Provisional [here]
Source: NHS England: Monthly Commissioner Cancer Waiting Times Statistics [here]
The outcomes from the first quarter of 2022 continue the downward trend in GP referrals and cancer treatment seen in recent years. The percentage of patients seen and treated within the NHS target timeframes are now the worst on record.
Prof Pat Price, a leading oncologist and co-founder of the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign, described cancer waiting times as "catastrophic and the worst ever".
Full text of Tim Farron's amendment to the Queen's Speech on cancer waiting times is as below:
At end add 'but, while welcoming the mental health bill brought forward in the Gracious Speech and the forthcoming scrutiny of its contents, respectfully regret that it did not include a strategy for reducing cancer waiting times as committed by the Government; are concerned by the continued downward trajectory of cancer waiting times since 2017; note that NHS operational standards requiring at least 85 per cent of cancer patients to be seen within 62 days have not been met for over five years; note the commitment to reach an average figure of 80 per cent of patients seen within 62 days by March 2023; and respectfully ask the Government to publish a strategy for how that target will be met.'
Within Target Percentage
14 days from urgent referral to consultant appointment
28 days from urgent referral to diagnosis
31 days from decision to treat to first treatment
62 days between urgent referral and first treatment
Conservative MPs have voted down a Lib Dem amendment today in Parliament calling for an emergency tax cut.
The amendment to the Queen's Speech would have cut VAT to 17.5%, saving the average family £600 a year by cutting prices in the shops.
Rishi Sunak is refusing to cut VAT, despite being forecast to cash in £39 billion in extra VAT receipts over the next four years due to soaring inflation.
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:
"Cutting VAT would put money straight back into people's pockets, and the Chancellor could do it at the stroke of a pen.
"Rishi Sunak's refusal to do so while cashing in billions in extra VAT receipts is a betrayal of pensioners and families feeling the pain of soaring prices.
"People won't forgive this government for refusing to help in their time of need. People won't forgive the Conservatives for refusing to help in their time of need."
The Liberal Democrat amendment voted on this evening stated that the Queen's Speech is: "not sufficiently ambitious in tackling the cost of living crisis and should include provision for an emergency tax cut cutting the top rate of VAT from 20 per cent to 17.5 per cent".
The full amendment can be found here:
The Office for Budget Responsibility's latest forecast in March shows VAT receipts £39 billion higher over the next four years than last year's forecast.
Eastbourne Council want the declaration to be a "wake-up call for Boris Johnson"
New data shows the town has the busiest food bank in the country
Eastbourne has become the first town in the country to declare a 'Cost of Living Emergency' in the face of rising energy bills and prices. Remember if it has happned in Sussex, it could happen in Wiltshire.
The Liberal Democrat run council will make the emergency declaration at a meeting of Eastbourne Borough Council tonight (Wednesday 18th May).
The declaration will come after new data from the Trussell Trust highlighted that Eastbourne Foodbank was the busiest in the country in 2021/22, with more food parcels distributed per head than any other Foodbank in the UK.
The emergency motion, put forward by Eastbourne councillor and Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Josh Babarinde OBE, also called on the Government to enact further measures to support struggling families. These include an immediate Windfall Tax on oil and gas companies to reduce bills, immediately restoring the pensions triple lock and immediately cutting VAT by 2.5% for a year to reduce prices.
Eastbourne Liberal Democrat councillor and Parliamentary Candidate Josh Babarinde OBE said:
"This is a wake-up call for Boris Johnson. I cannot stand idly by while my hometown of Eastbourne is among the hardest hit, which is why I have called for the Government and our Conservative MP to act right now.
"The Conservative Government's failure to tackle the rising cost of living has shamefully allowed this crisis to become an emergency.
"We need taxes slashed, a Windfall Tax on oil companies to help people heat their homes, and the triple-lock pension protected. Instead, we are seeing taxes go up and oil companies allowed to make billions off the backs of families and pensioners.
"Eastbourne needs help and I am determined to do all I can to secure that. It is time Boris Johnson stopped sleepwalking through this cost of living emergency."
NOTES TO EDITORS
Cost of Living Emergency motion
This Council notes that:
· On 1 April 2022, Ofgem increased the energy price cap by 54%
· In light of the increased energy price cap, the average standard tariff energy bill will increase by £693 per year. The average pre-pay meter energy bill will increase by £708 per year (Ofgem, 2022)
· On 6 April 2022, the Government increased National Insurance by 1.25 percentage points, which is projected to cost the average Eastbourne family an additional £108 per year
· The Government has suspended the pensions 'triple lock' for 2022/3, meaning that Eastbourne's 25,806 pensioners will see a rise of 3.1% this year (instead of 8.3% under the triple lock formula). This year, this will cost an Eastbournian on the full new state pension an average of £487, and an Eastbournian on the full basic state pension and average of £373 (TUC, 2022)
· In 2021/22 Eastbourne Foodbank distributed food parcels at a rate of 17,440 per 100,000 people, the highest rate in the country (Trussell Trust, 2022)
This Council therefore declares a 'Cost of Living Emergency' and calls on the Government to:
1. Immediately impose a 'Windfall Tax' on the super profits of oil and gas companies and use this to take an average of £600 off Eastbournians' energy bills this year
2. Immediately reduce the standard rate of VAT from 20% to 17.5% for one year, saving the average Eastbourne household a further £600 this year
3. Immediately re-introduce the pensions triple lock to support Eastbourne's pensioners"
Since Spring Conference, most members will have been focused on the Local Elections which took place in many parts of the country - and rightly so: the hard work has paid off, with some truly fantastic gains made from both the Conservatives and Labour. Particular mention should go to our amazing Chief Steward at Conference, Mike Ross, who is now the Leader of Hull Council! Massive congratulations to Mike and the whole team.
"So the Conservatives' answer to the cost-of-living emergency is that people should just earn more? This shows just how out of touch they truly are.
"Millions of families have had to make huge cutbacks and taken on extra work in order to weather the cost of living crisis. They simply cannot do any more.
"Instead of blaming people for not earning enough, Ministers should take real action to help families and pensioners now - by slashing VAT to give people £600 back in their pockets and putting a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to bring energy bills down."
Minister says people should work more hours or move to a better job to protect themselves from cost of living surge
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