Swinson: BBC gender pay gap should be a wake-up call

 

Figures published today have shown that of the 108 people at the BBC who earn more than £150,000, just 34 are women.

Only five women are in the top 20 and one in the top 10. Claudia Winkleman, the top earning female. earns a quarter (£400,000 - £449,000) of the salary of the highest earning male, Chris Evans (£2.2m – 2.249m).

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and Former Equalities Minister Jo Swinson commented:

"I hope these figures will act as a really strong wake-up call.

"We need to eliminate the gender pay gap as quickly possible.

"Making gender pay gap data transparent is vital to pierce the bubble of complacency in organisations. That is why I was so determined in 2015 to win the fight in government to introduce mandatory gender pay gap reporting.

"That means that not only do we know the picture in the BBC, soon we will be able to see how other media organisations compare."

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20 things Theresa May has U-turned on!

Our lovely friends in the Lib Dem Press Office have been keeping tally. They have found twenty policies that the Government has U-turned on in the last year.  And here they are:

  1. Northern Powerhouse: It was reported last August that Theresa May had decided to ditch the Northern Powerhouse from her plans for an industrial strategy, she later back-tracked and made clear she was fully behind it. 
  2. EU nationals: Theresa May reversed her stance towards EU citizens living in Britain (£), after her rivals accused her of treating them as “bargaining chips” in exit negotiations.
  3. Hinkley Point: The PM paused the deal around Hinkley Point – but then unpaused it with almost nothing changed.
  4. Foreign doctors: Theresa May appeared to suggest foreign-born doctors will not be welcome in the United Kingdom beyond 2025. The Prime Minister then backed down and admitted that foreign doctors won’t have to leave the NHS.
  5. Lists of foreign workers: Amber Rudd announced at Conservative party conference that firms should “be clear about the proportion of their workforce which is international”. Theresa May was forced to back down after the scheme was slammed by businesses and the public.
  6. Pharmacy closures: Plans to implement £170m of cuts and close thousands of local pharmacies were shelved after one million people signed a petition calling on the Government to think again.
  7. Workers on company boards: During her campaign to be leader and at the Conservative Party conference, Theresa May announced plans to force companies to appoint workers to their boards. She then confirmed the policy had been dropped, following lobbying from businesses.
  8. Brexit White Paper: Theresa May finally agreed to publish a White Paper on Brexit only after being threatened with a rebellion by Conservative MPs.
  9. Taking in refugee children: Theresa May announced plans to shelve the scheme to take in unaccompanied refugee children from Calais.
  10. National Insurance rise: Plans announced in Theresa May’s first full budget as Prime Minister to hike National Insurance for self-employed workers were dropped after they were criticised for breaking the Conservative’s 2015 manifesto pledge.
  11. Holding an election: Theresa May repeatedly said she wouldn’t hold an election, arguing that it would risk the stability of the country. She then called a snap election when the polls were in her favour.
  12. The Dementia Tax: The Prime Minister was forced to U-turn on proposals to make people pay more for their care, branded as a “Dementia Tax”, within days of it being announced.
  13. Energy price cap: Theresa May had pledged a price cap on energy bills for 17 million families during the general election campaign, but the policy was missing from the Queen’s speech. Instead, the business secretary, Greg Clark, wrote to the energy regulator asking it to safeguard “customers on the poorest value tariffs”.
  14. The European Convention on Human Rights – Theresa May was reportedly planning to make the case to leave the ECHR a central aspect of her 2020 election campaign before she called for an early election. She then confirmed the UK will remain signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights for the next Parliament.
  15. Triple lock: Theresa May scrapped a manifesto commitment to drop the State Pension ‘triple lock’ after signing a deal with the DUP.
  16. Winter fuel payments: Conservative plans to means test winter fuel payouts were also scrapped under the party’s deal with the DUP.
  17. Grammar schools: Theresa May ditched plans to expand grammar schools from the Queens’ Speech.
  18. Free school lunches: Controversial plans set out in the Conservative manifesto to axe free school lunches and replace them with breakfasts for families on low incomes were dropped last week.
  19. Public sector pay: The Government appeared to U-turn after Downing Street suggested it was ready to abandon a 1 per cent cap on public sector pay rises, only to insist hours later that the cap remained in place.
  20. Fox hunting: Theresa May has ditched plans to hold a parliamentary vote on bringing back fox hunting, the Government confirmed last week.

One thing we do know about Theresa May is that she can never say “This lady’s not for turning”.

 

 

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Lib Dems launch petition to protect Surrey's tips

Liberal Democrat county councillors in Surrey have launched a petition to save four community recycling centres earmarked for closure by the Conservative administration at County Hall after a huge outcry from local residents. The petition also calls for the county council to scrap plans to reduce the opening times of every CRC in the county by 2 days per week and increase the charge for residents disposing of waste. The four centres earmarked for closure are Bagshot, Cranleigh, Dorking and Warlingham.

Cllr Stephen Cooksey, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the Environment, said today:

"I am calling for residents in Surrey to show their support for our well-used and highly regarded community recycling facilities by signing this petition and completing the county council's online consultation. We need to show that the people of Surrey will not be taken for granted by an out of touch Conservative administration which rides roughshod over the wishes of its residents, who are hugely concerned about the potential increase in fly-tipping, the damage to the Surrey environment and the extra costs this would incur.

"Before the county elections in May, the Conservative administration at County Hall boasted that they had passed a budget that protected vital services for Surrey residents - but nothing could be further from the truth as they are now implementing a programme of huge cuts and blaming everybody but themselves.

"We need to save and invest in our community recycling centres as they help residents do the right thing by recycling their waste and helping to protect Surrey's environment".

NOTES

A link to the petition can be found here:

https://SignMe.org.uk/1376

A link to Surrey County Council's consultation can be found here:

https://www.surreysays.co.uk/e-i-directorate-programme-group/shaping-surreys-community-recycling-centres-1/

 

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Jo Swinson's message for Pride 2017: Love Happens Here

Pride is a colourful, energetic celebration of freedom, love and acceptance. Each year I am amazed as thousands of people of all sexualities take to the streets in the name of freedom and equality.

I am proud to stand with the LGBT community in the continuous fight for a more open, tolerant and united society.

This year's theme "Love Happens Here", reminds us that we ought to celebrate love wherever we find it and defiantly oppose the forces of bigotry, hate and division.

This is an historic year, as it marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK and I'm thrilled that in that time we have managed to secure more LGBT rights - such as the introduction of same-sex marriage, championed by Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone.

Let us celebrate our triumphs and remind the word of the courage, strength and vibrancy of this incredible community.

Thank you to everyone that has made this year's celebrations possible.

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Letting agents fees to be banned after pressure from Liberal Democrats

Letting agents fees look set to be banned in this year Queen's Speech following pressure from the Liberal Democrats.

The fees cost on average £223 per tenancy but under the new plans they will be banned and tenants will be given the opportunity to recover illegal fees imposed upon them.

Lib Dem peer Olly Grender, who has led a campaign against the fees, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the ban on letting fees set out in my Private Members’ Bill is now being proposed as law.

“We know from the tragedy of Grenfell Tower that tenants’ rights have been ignored for far too long.

“It’s time we made them a much greater priority, including by introducing a public register of rogue landlords.”

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Jo Swinson is new Lib Dem Deputy Leader

 

Jo Swinson has been elected unanimously as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The result was announced on Tuesday evening at the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party meeting.

Jo will continue in her role as Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Jo said: "I am very proud to have been elected by a newly energised and strengthened parliamentary party.

"The government has no majority and no mandate for its extreme version of Brexit, which would do such damage to the health of our economy and the fabric of our society.

"In this balanced parliament the Liberal Democrats will be a powerful influence and a strong voice for people who want to see an open, welcoming and tolerant United Kingdom."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said: “Jo Swinson is a brilliant campaigner and someone I am proud to call a friend. I am in no doubt she will be a fantastic Deputy Leader of our party.

“Jo is the future of the Liberal Democrats and will make a massive difference laying out a liberal alternative to this divisive Brexit government. Her hard work as a local MP and impressive record as a minister leave us in no doubt that she will be a powerful voice for our party.”

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Theresa May drops plans to snatch free school meals after Lib Dem pressure

Theresa May is reported to have dropped plans to scrap free school lunches for infant pupils from tomorrow's Queen's Speech.

It comes after the Liberal Democrats strongly criticised the Conservatives during the election campaign over the plans which would have deprived 1.7 million children of free school lunches, including 700,000 living in poverty.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran said:

"I'm glad Theresa May has bowed to pressure and agreed not to scrap free school lunches.

"This is a victory for families across the country. Thousands of children living in poverty will now continue to receive a free nutritious meal a day.

"I am proud of the role the Liberal Democrats played in first introducing free school lunches and then protecting them from Theresa May.

“We will now fight to ensure the Conservatives rein back on their plans to extend grammars and reduce school funding.”

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Surrey Conservatives forced to scrap unnecessary £192K Cabinet Associate post

Liberal Democrat county councillors in Surrey have welcomed the news that the Conservative-administration at County Hall has finally agreed to scrap the 4 Cabinet Associate posts which have so far cost the tax payer nearly two hundred thousand pounds since they were introduced.

Liberal Democrats have consistently called for these posts to be scrapped and for the money saved to be used on front line services, rather than on excessive allowances for Conservative county councillors. The roles that will end are:

Cabinet Associate for Children, Schools & Families

Cabinet Associate for the Built Environment

Cabinet Associate for Adult Social Care, Wellbeing and Independence

Cabinet Associate for Community Safety Services

Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said today:

"I am pleased that these posts have been scrapped but disappointed that it has taken several years for the Conservative-administration at County Hall to realise that these roles were a waste of money. At a time of tight financial constraints for the county council, it is vital that every penny is spent wisely and it was clearly not possible for the Leader of the Council to be able to justify the rationale for these posts any longer.

"The cost of the 4 cabinet associate posts was just over £50K in 2016/17, at a time when the Conservative-administration was cutting services, introducing fees for using the tip and raising council tax - no wonder only 39% of Surrey residents agreed that the county council provided value for money. Liberal Democrat county councillors will continue to hold the Conservative-administration to account over the next 4 years and highlight examples of wasteful spending and where we think efficiencies could be made".

NOTES

A link to Cllr Watson's question on Cabinet Associate posts can be found here (page 14):

https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/b16668/Supplementary%20Agenda%20-%20Member%20Questions%20and%20Cabinet%20Updates%20Tuesday%2021-Mar-2017%2010.00%20Council.pdf?T=9

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Sharp fall in EU nurses coming to UK

 

There has been a sharp fall in nurses from EU countries registering to work in the NHS, new figures have revealed.

The Health Service Journal reports that monthly statistics show the number of EU nurses registering with the NMC to work in the UK peaked at 1,304 in July 2016, a month after the referendum, before falling to 344 in September 2016 and then to just 46 in April 2017.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said: “These figures are profoundly worrying and the possible implications for the NHS and patients cannot be underestimated. The government has to face up to the impact their refusal to guarantee EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit is having. It is a political choice they have made and it is going to harm our services, in particular the NHS.

“The government must now change this decision. The result of the election last week gives them the opportunity to change their mind, and they now must. Liberal Democrats are clear that EU citizens whose lives are now rooted in the UK must have the right to stay”.

 

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Your new team of Liberal Democrat MPs

Thank you for your support - this is your new team!

 

Thank you to everyone who has helped to elect these Liberal Democrats MPs:

Tom Brake, Carshalton
Vince Cable, Twickenham
Alistair Carmichael, Orkney and Shetland
Edward Davey, Kingston and Surbiton
Tim Farron, Westmorland and Lonsdale
Wera Hobhouse, Bath
Christine Jardine, Edinburgh West
Norman Lamb, North Norfolk
Stephen Lloyd, Eastbourne
Layla Moran, Oxford West and Abingdon
Jamie Stone, Caithness
Jo Swinson, Dunbartonshire East

In the next five years, Britain needs Liberal voices standing up for our place in Europe, for our civil liberties, for human rights and for an open, tolerant and united Britain.

Will you be part of what comes next and join us today?

Join the Liberal Democrats

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