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Are you working hard enough?

Thursday 23 July 2015

Before the election every party was the friend of hard-working families but what they actually meant by 'hard-working' was tricky to work out. Fortunately, the Conservatives budget have now given everyone a clearer idea of what the Tories mean by 'hard-working'. Leaving aside the headline grabbing loss of student maintenance grants and the wonderfully misnamed National Living Wage (NLW), it is even more discouraging to look at the likely impact of the budget on low income workers.

These are not the welfare scroungers that the media and politicians wheel out when they want to trash the welfare system. Instead I mean the men and women in low paid jobs who make ends meet as much as they can through the array of welfare benefits such as tax and universal credits and housing benefits. The headline figure of 13 million families, as stated by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), feeling the squeeze of the budget throws attention away from the tightness of the squeeze for different families. Further analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) of this impact makes depressing reading for low income families particularly finding that the poorest 40% of income earners will be over £1000 worst off when all the budget changes kick in, representing a loss of income of between 5-11%.

How should LibDems react to these changes? The Tories claim they are incentivising work for such people, painting all low-income earners with the same brush of not working hard enough. After all, the Liberal architect of the welfare system, William Beveridge in his own 1942 report said that 'social security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility' (p.7).

Beveridge also made it clear his social security system was an insurance plan that gave the means upon which individuals could build. He viewed the welfare system as providing individuals with a route to escape their temporary conditions by building on the opportunities provided by a free and fair society. As Lib Dems this view of welfare as a means of enabling individuals to develop their full potential to their and society's benefit is a lens through which we can view the welfare reforms of the budget.

The budget does not provide low-income earners with opportunities to build upon their potential, instead it creates fears that their situations will get worse. They are locked into a cycle of more low-paid work to maintain their income; sprinting rather than running to stand still. As a family they will need to work longer hours, often hunting for part-time work in a labour market crowded with others trying to do the same and where employers are likely to be shedding part-time hours as the NLW adds to their costs. Grandparents will be increasingly called upon to cover for childcare that parents can not afford or to cover for free childcare places that just don't exist. The opportunities to build upon potential is ground down by the grim necessities of Want. Yet all the time the Tories would have low-income families believe they are not working hard enough.

The welfare system needs reform but as well as the fear of Want, the hope of social progress for individuals needs to be part of that system. Limiting social progress could become generational as more children become locked into a cycle of in-work poverty with their parents and their hopes of social progress are extinguished as well as noted by Patrick Butler in the Guardian on 16th July. Conservative policy casts the low paid as part of the 'undeserving poor' and punishes them for that. Lib Dems need to see the welfare system as wider than just changing benefits, we need to balance creating sufficient incentives to work with the development of policies that produce real opportunities for improving the life of the low paid and that advance a fair society so social progress is possible.

Fightback continues with new Lib Dem leader

Friday 17 July 2015

Havant Lib Dems welcome the announcement that Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, has been elected as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Tim said that under his leadership, the party would oppose the cuts to tax credits and other benefits in the Conservatives' budget and push for greater spending on infrastructure such as transport and broadband.

Tim added, "If you care about human rights join us. If you think you shouldn't have your emails snooped on join us. If you think everyone deserves a decent home join us."

Cllr. Faith Ponsonby said, "These principles are at the heart of what drives the Liberal Democrats, our members and activists. More than ever Britain needs a party that will stand up for what we believe in, so we're starting our fightback and I'm asking local residents to be part of it. 17,000 people had joined the party since the General Election. Locally we have been joined by many new members."

If you would like to join, please do so at

Experienced councillor, Steve Sollitt, selected as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Havant

Friday 6 February 2015

Havant Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce that at a recent meeting of their members Cllr. Steve Sollitt was chosen to be their Parliamentary candidate for the coming General Election.

45 year old Steve is an experienced councillor in Eastleigh, retaining his seat last year. He also stood as a candidate in the 2014 European elections.  He has worked on the financial side of the NHS for the last 12 years, currently being a Management Accountant in Southampton.

Steve said: "I am delighted to have been chosen to stand in Havant, and I look forward to meeting Havant people. As a Cabinet member on Eastleigh Borough Council for Youth and Social Policy, I will be particularly interested in hearing from younger as well as elderly residents.

I especially welcome the pupil premium now bringing thousands of pounds into local schools, particularly in Leigh Park, enabling head teachers to give extra help to children who need it most. I am also keen to see free school meals now being given to all infant school children, extended in future to all primary school children. This will ensure that every primary pupil gets a healthy meal in the middle of the school day, boosting their education, health as well as saving parents money. None of this would have happened without the Lib Dems being part of the coalition government."

Havant Borough councillor, Faith Ponsonby, welcomed Steve warmly, and said "He will be a strong representative for the Liberal Democrats, speaking up for a stronger economy and a fairer society."

Candidates meet students at South Downs College

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Giles Goodall, one of the Liberal Democrat candidates for Europe, visited South Downs College on Tuesday, with Havant members, where they had been invited by the college to have a display in the Reception Area for students to see what the Lib Dem MEPs have been doing, and with more general information booklets about the EU.

With Cllr. Faith Ponsonby, candidate for re-election in the Battins ward, and Ken Cosslett, Chair of the Local Party, they spoke to students informally around the college over lunchtime. Students were interested in the elections, though many of them were too young to vote this year. Giles and Faith were able to tell them that it has been Lib Dem policy for many years that the age at which people are eligible to vote in elections should be lowered to 16.

Giles said: "It's great that the students are so enthusiastic about Europe. The top three issues they raised were jobs, the right to work and study in the EU, and stopping Ukip. I hope all those who have a vote will use it at this week's elections." You can find out more about Giles on his website:

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