As some of you appreciate, although I happen to be a Liberal Democrat, I don't set out to overtly promote Liberal Democrats, for the simple reason this blog was started as a personal take on what goes on in these parts and certainly I don't stifle comment either, although I have to say, I feel more than a little guilty, for not mentioning some of the parties achievements, particularly dumping ID cards, giving schools additional funds to focus on disadvantaged children, increasing tax threshold so 880,000 low paid workers don't pay income tax.
Bill Furness a fellow Liberal Democrat has kindly taken up my offer contribute to this blog, for which I am grateful.
A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT VIEW 0N THE NEW YEAR
BY Bill Furness Executive member of Thanet Liberal Democrats
With the start of a new year with Xmas over and the credit card payments yet to be made, those that are fortunate to have a job look in trepidation at the way that the economy is going here at home and in Europe and how it may affect the labour market here in Thanet.
At least we can all look forward this year to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Olympic Games and, importantly for all the people of pensionable age who are set to benefit after Liberal Democrats in Government delivered the biggest pension rise in history.
From this April the basic state pension will rise by £5.30 per week, this is more than it has ever increased before, making the new rate £107.45 per week for a single person. a stark contrast to the last Labour government which insulted pensioners with a miserly 75p increase!
Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP said:
“I hope this pension increase demonstrates our commitment of fairness to people who have worked hard all their lives.
From April 2012 the basic state pension is forecast to be 17.1% of average earnings, a higher share of average earnings than in any year since 1997.
At a time when the nation’s finances are under severe pressure, this government will be spending an extra £6.6 billion in 2012-13 to ensure that people are protected against cost of living increases.
No less than £4.5 billion extra on state pensions, over a billion pounds extra on disabled people and their carers and over a billion pounds extra on people who are unable to work through sickness or unemployment.”
Under the Lib Dems’ triple lock pensions guarantee, the basic state pension will rise every year in line with either earnings, prices or by 2.5% - whichever is highest.”
It’s a step in the right direction and shows that despite being the smaller part of the coalition, Lib Dems are more than just about sound bites, as we discovered New Labour and the previous government to be by up-rating the pension credit as well, the poorest pensioners benefit in full from the triple lock, and they have also up-rated working age benefits by 5.2% protecting the real incomes of the poorest.
That said, I still believe that the basic state pension needs further improvement, as local people of pensionable age often spend their money in the local area and many are involved in a variety of roles in the local community.
This is just one of the Liberal Democrat policies that are being put into place, we may be a junior partner in the coalition but our policies are gradually being introduced and acted on.
Implementing reforms and legislation is one thing but the Liberal Democrat “Voice” is being heard on many issues and hopefully brought into fruition this year, it is unlikely that 2012 will bring much cheer, with so many people struggling in this extraordinarily difficult time but the Liberal Democrat party can be proud in alleviating the situation for millions of families and look forward to similar achievements during this year.