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Lib Dems go big on care and self-employment in election manifesto

Lib Dems go big on care and self-employment in election manifesto
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning
Posted:
10/06/2024
Updated:
10/06/2024

The Liberal Democrats launched its election manifesto, with “responsible management of public finances at its core.”

Party leader Ed Davey pipped the Conservatives and Labour in announcing his plans for the UK should he become prime minister.

He pledged to cut income tax by raising the free personal allowance so low-paid workers would miss out on paying for it altogether.

The proposal hopes to benefit “the vast majority of families” and is part of a tax shake-up which also targets self-employed workers.

It also committed to stopping retrospective tax payments including the Loan Charge, as well as reviewing the IR35 reforms so people who work for themselves “are treated fairly”.

‘Radical self-employment changes’

In what Seb Maley, Qdos CEO, hailed as “radical” changes for self-employed people, the manifesto also included forming a new ‘dependant contractor’ employment status for when you’re between employment and self-employment.

Maley said the Lib Dems had “thrown down the gauntlet to the other parties, with a manifesto that will resonate with many freelancers, contractors and self-employed workers.”

He said: “From committing to ending the Loan Charge to action on late payments and a much-needed review of the off-payroll reforms, the Lib Dems are positioning themselves well to win over the support of the UK’s 4.2m self-employed and flexible workers.

“With lines in the sand now drawn, it will be interesting to see what the Labour and Conservative parties are willing to do to try and win votes from this crucial set of voters.”

Elsewhere, the party has grand plans for the care sector and pledged to make personal care free “based on need, not ability to pay”.

Part of the plans involve an increase in carer’s allowance, the introduction of carer’s leave and making sure employers “make reasonable adjustments” so workers can continue with caring responsibilities without fear of losing their jobs.

New powers will also be given to those in care to transfer packages so they are not stuck in their current agreement, should the Lib Dems get the keys to Downing Street.

Lib Dems will ‘fight for carers every day’

As part of his announcement, Ed Davey said: “Caring is why I got into politics. It isn’t just my story, it is the story of millions of family carers around the country working hard to look after their loved ones.

“For too long carers have been treated as an afterthought by this Conservative government. Thousands of carers are being shamefully hounded in the overpayment scandal, all because of the unfair cliff-edge for Carer’s Allowance and the DWP’s incompetence.

“The Liberal Democrats will fight for carers every day. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to fix the care crisis and give family carers a fair deal.”

That ethos was extended to childcare too, where extra free services will be available to disadvantaged children, as well as a boost in maternity/ paternity pay plus extra Child Benefit for one-year-olds.

To tackle child poverty, the Lib Dems proposed scrapping the two-child limit on claiming some state benefits.

Housing promises

When it comes to housing, the party hopes to build 380,000 homes a year in the UK, including 150,000 social homes.

For comparison, in its 2019 manifesto, the Conservatives pledged to build 300,000 new homes, a target which it has not reached.

Meanwhile, if the Lib Dems win the general election on 4 July, it will immediately ban no-fault evictions, which has been a key part of the delayed Renters Reform Bill. This legislation will no longer pass due to the dissolving of parliament.

Davey would also make three-year tenancies the default and continue with plans to introduce a national register for landlords.

Further, the manifesto includes plans to abolish residential leaseholds and cap ground rents to a nominal fee, “so everyone has control over their property”.

On a wider scale, the party also aims to end homelessness within the next parliament, which it says the number of people doing so remains “shamefully high”.