Don’t let the Conservatives Put Economic Recovery at Risk by Paul Chaplin, prospective MP for Gillingham & Rainham

The economy has now recovered the ground lost under Labour. We now have a record number of people in work, the deficit has been cut by nearly half, inflation is down to just 0.5%, the economy is growing faster than that of most of our international competitors.The main reason that Liberal Democrats formed the Coalition was to sort out Labour’s economic mess and build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

We gave the country a long term economic recovery plan based on Liberal Democrat values of fairness and the stability to see it through. In 2010, we put the national interest before party interest and gave the country the stability that was desperately needed to sort out the economy and get the deficit under control.

Having Liberal Democrats in the Coalition meant the Government was anchored to the centre ground. But an all Conservative Government after the General Election in May could put economic recovery at risk with an unchecked lurch to the right.

The Conservatives have already announced there will be no tax rises for the wealthy after the General Election. Instead, balancing the books would be done entirely through cuts – leaving those on low and middle incomes to pay off the deficit.

A Conservative-only Government after the General Election could see Britain abandon the centre ground and put economic recovery at risk.

 Make sure that doesn’t happen by voting Liberal Democrat on 7th May


How we would give the NHS the funding it needs

Team of surgeon in uniform perform operation on a patient at car

The Liberal Democrats have now set out how we will safeguard the NHS for the future. Under Liberal Democrat spending plans, NHS funding will be at least £8bn higher per year in real terms by 2020.

The Liberal Democrats are the only political party to set out a credible road map for how we will safeguard the NHS over the next parliament.

This is in response to the Five Year Forward View published by the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens. In his report, Stevens called for a real term funding boost of £8bn per year by 2020/21 – on top of efficiency savings and further reforms to the NHS.

To achieve this increase in funding by 2020/21, we will do three things:

1. We will maintain the additional £2bn that the Liberal Democrats successfully secured in the Autumn Statement for 2015/16.

2. In addition to this funding, as we set out at our Autumn Conference, we will invest a further £1bn in real terms in 2016/17 which we will then also maintain in future budgets. This will be paid for by capping pensions tax relief for the very wealthiest (saving £500m); aligning dividend tax with income tax for those earning over £150,000 (saving £400m); and scrapping the Conservative shares for rights scheme (saving £100m).

3. Once we have finished the job of tackling the deficit in 2017/18, we will increase health spending in line with growth in the economy.

But, as the Stevens Report makes clear, additional funding in the NHS alone is not enough. That is why on top of injecting more funding in the NHS, we will also commission a non-partisan fundamental review of NHS and social care finances in 2015, before the next Spending Review, in order to assess the pressures on NHS budgets and the scope for efficiencies. This will allow us to set multi-year budgets that will be sufficient to maintain and improve the current standard of NHS services, including keeping waiting times down.
We will focus additional funding on two key priorities that will help reduce cost pressures in other areas to help NHS funding remain sustainable:

1. Mental Health. We want to end the discrimination against mental health which has existed for too long in the NHS and we have pledged £500m extra a year (from the £1bn mentioned above) to support this from 2015/16 onwards.

2. Prevention. Keeping people healthier for longer and supporting people (especially the growing number of people living with long term conditions like diabetes) to stay as healthy as possible, getting care closer to home.

By contrast, Labour have pledged £2.5bn only to be fully introduced by the third year of the next parliament and have not committed to additional real terms increases beyond that. The Conservatives have made no specific real terms funding commitments.

Neither Labour or the Tories have a credible response to the funding challenges that the NHS faces

Southern Gas Networks, dump sites in Watling


Dump sites in Second Avenue and Third Avenue in Gillingham have been causing chaos for weeks. These dump sites take debris from surrounding works by  Southern Gas Networks and as the sites are insecure and the debris is frequently strewn all over the road, they have been causing severe hazards to both traffic and pedestrians. ”Surely such insecure fencing is a serious breach of health and safety regulations,” said Paul, ”and it doesn’t seem as though the council is prepared to take any action”. Paul Chaplin, has tackled portfolio holder, Cllr Filmer, head on at October’s full council meeting demanding that the council ensure better consultation with residents, and carry out safety inspections on dump sites.  Cllr Filmer replied to the effect that so far as he was concerned local residents were ”happy with the way in which Southern Gas Networks had operated in their streets” and had ”even made them tea”. Paul, a local Liberal Democrat activist, said he ”is waiting to see if there is any improvement in the situation”