10 June 2024

The Liberal Democrats’ General Election manifesto at a glance

10 June 2024

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.

Here are some of the headline policy proposals from the Lib Dems.

– 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”.

– The economy

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 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.

– Health

On 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, with 8,000 more GPs to deliver on it”.

The announcement was trailed by the party in advance of the manifesto launch as part of a £9.4 billion 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 they promise to implement 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”.

– 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.

– Post Office

Buried in the manifesto is a promise to ensure “full and fair compensation to all victims of the Horizon Post Office scandal”.

The scandal has proved a sore point for Lib Dem leader Sir Ed, who has faced criticism for not meeting Horizon scandal campaigner Alan Bates while he was the post office minister.

– Pensions and benefits

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”.

– 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.

– 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.

– 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.

– 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.

– 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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