6 key Lib Dem policy announcements from party conference

Party leader Ed Davey has announced a new flagship Education policy on the third day of the party's conference - Catch-Up Vouchers.

As the Liberal Democrat conference enters its third day, we thought we’d bring you some of the major policy announcements emerging from the party’s virtual conference.

£15 billion package of education catch-up funding

Party leader Ed Davey has announced a new flagship Education policy on the third day of the party’s conference – Catch-Up Vouchers. Given the impact of the pandemic on education, especially on students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, the party has said it will deliver a £15 billion package of education catch-up funding, as recommended by the Government’s former Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

As part of the package, the party is calling for a £5 billion programme of Catch-Up Vouchers for every school child, putting the money directly into parents’ hands to spend on whatever their children need most: tutoring in reading, writing or maths; music lessons; swimming classes or other physical education.

Carbon pricing to combat climate change

Climate change featured heavily at the party conference yesterday and the Lib Dems placed carbon pricing at the heart of plans to accelerate decarbonisation in the UK. Among the plans include cutting VAT on electric vehicles to 5%, as well as a levy on frequent flyers.

The conference also backed policy plans to limit the growth in demand for flights by ensuring that no net increase in airport runways across the UK takes place and banning flights where direct rail transport is available for the same journey, up to 2.5 hours, unless planes are alternative-fuelled.

Introducing a criminal ban on conversion therapy

A motion to ban conversion therapy received overwhelming support at the conference. The party says it wants to see a total ban on conversion therapy in the UK, with no exemptions for religious practices.  The Lib Dems also want to see a criminal ban on referrals, transportations of minors overseas and any advertising for forms of conversion therapy as well as a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of conversion therapy among vulnerable people.

A new deal for Care Leavers

Key to the party’s plans for care leavers is greater support in the area of education.  The party is calling for young people and Care Leavers to have specialised mentoring, extra exam support and tuition. The package also calls on the Government to increase the Care Leaver Bursary from £1,000 to £2,000.

Commenting on the Liberal Democrats new policy to provide support to young people in care, Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP said: “Children across the country and Care Leavers are being let down horrifically by this Conservative Government, they deserve far more support. Our young people deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their circumstances early on in life.

“The Conservatives cannot dare claim to be the party of opportunity while they let Care Leavers down so badly, they must give them a better deal, which starts by supporting them in their education.”

Banning fossil fuel money from the city of London

Ed Davey told his party conference during a Q and A session that banning fossil fuel money from the city of London would be a way of showing the rest of the world the way forward on climate change.

He said: “It’s about taking responsibility for things we can impact globally and I particularly think of the city of London and the fossil fuels that are financed through the London Stock Exchange through the bond markets, the guild markets, the pension funds and so, in the city of London.

“We control the regulations and laws of the city of London. We can change how the city of London operates, we can show leadership to other financial centres of the world, whether that’s New York, Tokyo, Frankfurt or elsewhere by making it clear that fossil fuel money will be banned from the city of London.”

Scrapping emergency coronavirus laws

In a bid to woo Tory voters and also to remain true to its liberal instincts, the Liberal Democrats are calling for emergency coronavirus laws to be scrapped. Alistair Carmichael the party’s home affairs spokesperson described the powers contained in the act as “disproportionate, ill-considered and confusing”.

The party has also emphasised its opposition to vaccine passports.

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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