WATCH: Christine Jardine rip into the Tory Budget

On Politics Scotland this week, Christine Jardine shredded the entire budget red book with a few carefully chosen words and some gestures which would make a very fine gif if any of you are so inclined.

You can watch the whole thing from here, 17:42…

On Politics Scotland this week, Christine Jardine shredded the entire budget red book with a few carefully chosen words and some gestures which would make a very fine gif if any of you are so inclined.


You can watch the whole thing from here, 17:42 in.

The Independent View: Prompt action needed to deal with late business payments

Almost a quarter of insolvencies (23%) are caused by late payment issues. That’s a staggering figure that equates to tens of thousands of businesses collapsing every year. Many other small companies just about manage to absorb late payment, but the loss of income can stop them from investing and growing, it can also damage productivity […]

Almost a quarter of insolvencies (23%) are caused by late payment issues. That’s a staggering figure that equates to tens of thousands of businesses collapsing every year.

Many other small companies just about manage to absorb late payment, but the loss of income can stop them from investing and growing, it can also damage productivity and generally has a very negative impact. This negative impact isn’t just on the small business, its owners and employees but obviously has a knock-on effect on the wider economy too.

In response to this growing problem, the well intentioned and entirely voluntary Prompt Payment Code was introduced in 2012.

The Code simply requires large companies to pay their suppliers within a maximum of 60 days. Only 2,000 companies have signed it and some of these still pay people beyond 60 days because they know there is very little enforcement and no financial penalty for breaches.

As Liberal Democrat Baroness Burt recently said,

Late payment is a huge threat to British businesses and bitter experience has shown it’s not going to be eradicated by a voluntary Prompt Payment Code especially without any possibility of fines for persistent non-compliance.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is currently holding a call for evidence on the subject. Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), which has 140,000 members including thousands of licensed accountants who provide tax and accountancy services to over 400,000 British businesses, has responded by making three key recommendations for change:

    1. that the Prompt Payment Code be made compulsory for companies with more than 250 staff
    2. that payment terms should be halved from a maximum of 60 days to a maximum of 30 days
    3. that a clear, simple financial penalty regime for persistent late payment should be introduced and enforced by the Small Business Commissioner

These recommendations have gained widespread backing from small businesses, business groups and politicians including several senior Liberal Democrats. Lord Fox, the Liberal Democrat Business spokesperson, said

The voluntary nature of the Prompt Payment Code was always likely to render it ineffective. Late payments create serious problems for countless British small businesses, in some cases late payment is the final straw. Stricter penalties are needed for large companies that flout the rules. Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we support the AAT proposals to beef up the Code, by making it compulsory for the largest companies and putting penalties in place for those that fail to meet their obligations.

Baroness Burt added:

I have been urging the Government to take action on late payments for some time and so welcome the three clear recommendations put forward by AAT.

Political and business support is obviously welcome but what’s really needed is for the Government to stop the stream of failed initiatives, tweaks and voluntarism that have characterised their approach over the past eight years and instead legislate to solve the problem once and for all.

The Independent View‘ is a slot on Lib Dem Voice which allows those from beyond the party to contribute to debates we believe are of interest to LDV’s readers. Please email voice@libdemvoice.org if you are interested in contributing.

* Phil Hall is Head of Public Affairs and Policy at the AAT

WATCH: Christine Jardine’s response to the budget

On Monday night, Christine Jardine gave the Lib Dem response to the Budget in the House of Commons. Traditionally the leader does it, but it makes sense to have Vince going round the broadcast media rather than sitting in the chamber for hours on end waiting to be called. Christine talked about the pain caused […]

On Monday night, Christine Jardine gave the Lib Dem response to the Budget in the House of Commons. Traditionally the leader does it, but it makes sense to have Vince going round the broadcast media rather than sitting in the chamber for hours on end waiting to be called.

Christine talked about the pain caused by Universal Credit, and mentioned the unfairness suffered by the WASPI women. You can watch her whole speech here and read it below:

Now we have heard it from the Chancellor and the Prime Minister: austerity is over. It is a nice thought, but it will be down to our constituents and those outwith this place to decide whether they have achieved it. Every week, I meet people whose lives have been and are still being damaged by austerity. Today, like us, they have been told exactly what this Government mean when they tell us that it is over. Right now, people up and down the country will be working out the impact of this Budget on their income, their food bills and whether it means that they have reached the light at the end of the dark tunnel that began with the financial crash more than a decade ago in 2008.

I suspect that they will be as disappointed as we are to be promised growth at less than 2% for five years. With Brexit weighing down the economy and the big issues that have not been tackled, today’s Budget does not fulfil even the minimum definition of ending austerity as laid out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. That would cost £19 billion a year on top of the Government’s NHS commitment. Instead of that, we got more for potholes than for schools, nothing for women born in ​the 1950s and facing pension inequality, and a pathetic, inadequate sticking plaster for universal credit. So much more should, and could, be possible but for Brexit. Just think of the £500 million that the Chancellor added on today to the £3 billion that has previously been allocated for no-deal preparations—what could that have done for our public services?

What we needed today was vision, renewal and a way to reboot not just our beleaguered economy, but our damaged society. Instead, we got that sticking plaster. By March, if some of the Chancellor’s Brexiteer buddies have their way, this plan may have to be torn up and a fresh fag packet found to write a new one on.

This autumn, we are undoubtedly seeing short-term improvements in the economic picture, but there are still worrying trends that the Government have failed to tackle. Their independent advisory body, the Office for Budget Responsibility, has warned that the whole period of the Brexit negotiations is so disastrous and clouded in uncertainty that it is unable to assess the impact. What a thought that is. We are faced with so much ambiguity and the threat of chaos looms so large that the body whose one role is to assess the economy is unable to do so.

While the Government suddenly seem to have discovered £13 billion from somewhere, we all know that finding some money down the back of the sofa may well help with Christmas, but it will not pay the bills for the coming year. What we do not need now is a quick fix for the short term—a slapdash cover-up job. Today, the country needed a Chancellor who would lay out how we would go about repairing the severe damage that austerity has done, who would fix our broken tax system, and most importantly of all, who would find a way to restore a social contract that many struggling at the lower end of the income scale feel has been thrown on the fire, along with their ambitions for their and their family’s future. The very people the Prime Minister promised to support in her first statement on the steps of Downing Street are still waiting for the fulfilment of that commitment.

We need a people’s Budget that lays out a progressive way ahead for the 21st century; a Budget that protects the economy by allowing a people’s vote on the final deal with the EU and thereby allowing people to opt for an exit from Brexit; a Budget that fixes our broken tax system to boost investment and ensure the wealthiest individuals and big businesses pay their fair share; a Budget that invests this money in communities by reversing school cuts, putting more police on the streets and properly funding—yes, properly funding—universal credit. To ensure an end to austerity, we would need that cash injection of £19 billion and universal credit would need £3 billion, instead of £1 billion over five years.

In 1909, Lloyd George laid the foundations of what became the welfare state in his Budget and wrote the first page of the modern social contract with the introduction of employment insurance. A century later and universal credit, the descendant of that policy, is at the heart of the change we needed from this Budget. It is almost unique among Government policies: there is near universal support for the original principle of simplifying benefits and helping people get back into work, but the condemnation of how it has been implemented is almost as widespread.​

Universal credit is to be rolled out in my constituency for the first time next month, and we are braced for its impact. Experience elsewhere tells us to expect people waiting weeks longer than expected for payments, problems with rent arrears because of late payments, people facing increased stress and mental health issues, and so much more. It could have been avoided had the Government paused the roll-out to fix the problems and had the Chancellor announced that he was re-investing the £3 billion taken out of the system. Reinvesting that money would allow people to earn more before their benefits are reduced, which the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said would make a difference. Instead, we have the £1 billion over five years.

Elsewhere our public services need investment, and this should come from reforming our tax system so that it fairly taxes wealth and not just income. If the Chancellor had grasped that nettle today, he could have begun the process of healing the country and really ending austerity, but once again he has simply put off the day when we all pay the price of that broken social contract. The way things are now are not how they have to be. The Liberal Democrats demand better.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

29 October 2018 – today’s press releases (part two)

As promised, part two of today’s output from the Party’s Press Team… Fiscal Phil’s sticking plaster Budget Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Business Secretary Vince Cable said: This was all very modest stuff, with more in it for potholes than schools and the police. A standstill non-event. With growth remaining […]

As promised, part two of today’s output from the Party’s Press Team…

Fiscal Phil’s sticking plaster Budget

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

This was all very modest stuff, with more in it for potholes than schools and the police. A standstill non-event.

With growth remaining stubbornly low and Brexit weighing down our economy, it is clear the big problems are still to be tackled. It was a sticking plaster Budget, when major surgery lies ahead.

If we are to see an end to austerity, then we need a proper injection of cash – at least £19bn according to the IFS – in our public services. The Chancellor said he could end austerity without raising taxes, but that is highly unlikely in practice.

The Chancellor dined out on the borrowing improvements the OBR has given him, but these are overshadowed by the damaging impact Brexit will have on the UK’s public finances. These costs, which could reach £80bn a year in the event of ‘no deal’, risk turning today’s Budget into a sideshow.

Conservative Government throwing in the towel on halting climate change

Responding to the the Chancellor’s Budget, former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said:

This budget is grossly disappointing for those, like me, who care about fighting climate change and protecting the environment. The Chancellor has simply thrown in the towel.

The Tories have frozen fuel duty, slashed electric car subsides, committed £30bn to new road building and promise to continue at the same level subsidises to the oil and gas industry, while offering a measly £60 million to planting new trees, as if that will negate the damage they’re doing.

Liberal Democrats demand better. We would deliver a green budget, which promises more investment in renewable energy, not fossil fuels, borrowing to invest in infrastructure like rail, buses and electric vehicle charging points.

Budget clouded by Brexit disarray and uncertainty

Responding to the Budget this afternoon, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

May and Hammond can’t agree what a no-deal Brexit will mean for the Budget. Hammond thinks it will require a whole new, emergency budget while May has attempted to save face and insist the Budget will stand regardless. What a mess.

This fingers-crossed Budget is predicated on the Tories’ hopes that despite the mess they are making of Brexit the economy won’t suffer too severely. In reality, the Tories’ infighting has them gambling with the UK’s finances.

Liberal Democrats demand better. Brexit must not be allowed to make the UK poorer, that is why we need a final vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU.

Lib Dems: Gamblers face another year of being held captive to FOBTs

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement today that the £2 maximum stake for Fixed-Odds-Betting-Terminals will not be implemented until October 2019, former Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Lord Foster said:

We know with absolute certainty that this delay will see yet more lives ruined by these highly addictive machines.

Communities up and down the country see the damage that can be done when hundreds of pounds can be lost in minutes if not seconds, day after day.

Families will be despairing tonight that a problem gambler that they care about faces another full year of living captive to these machines until the Government step-in and do the right thing.

‘Hot air’ Tories abandon commitment to latte levy

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement that the Government will dump their commitment to a latte levy, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

It is bitterly disappointing that the Chancellor has abandoned the Government’s commitment to introduce a levy on plastic cups.

It proves the Tories are full of hot air and no credible action. It also proves what I have said all along, that headlines are more important to them than the environment.

Our Environment deserves better. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for a ban all single-use plastic within three years, the introduction of a levy on all producers and retailers that produce or use single-use plastics and the introduction of a latte levy.

Chancellor’s Universal Credit spending barely recovers half the cuts of his predecessor

Responding to the Chancellor’s Universal Credit plans from the Budget, Liberal Democrat DWP spokesperson Stephen Lloyd said:

After stubbornly resisting for far too long, the Government has finally responded to pressure from the Liberal Democrats and put back some of the money into the Universal Credit Work Allowance, which they stupidly cut the moment we were no longer around to stop them.

However, the £1.7 billion per year the Chancellor committed to still does not make up for the £3 billion pa his predecessor George Osborne slashed from the benefit in 2015. We also heard nothing on ending the gratuitous benefits freeze early, or on making UC fairer for the self-employed.

UC’s serious design flaws were also not addressed, from long waiting times that are pushing people into indebtedness, to problems in how landlords are paid housing benefit. The pain caused by the roll-out of UC is not over yet.

In addition, there were Budget-related releases from Scotland and Wales, which Caron has covered here. I won’t repeat them…