Councillor Young stands up for “The Excluded”

Claire Young

Councillor Claire Young, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on South Gloucestershire Councillor and ward member for Frampton Cotterell, used today’s Cabinet meeting to stand up for The Excluded.

The Excluded are those people who, through no fault of their own, fall outside the scope of Government support schemes such as furlough and the self-employment income support scheme. This includes those who were newly-self employed or who started a new job just before the first lockdown and people who earn less than 50% of their income from self employment. Additionally, many of The Excluded have received less than they might otherwise have expected if, for example, they are self-employed or have recently taken maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

Today’s South Gloucestershire Cabinet meeting was discussing a report on how South Gloucestershire Council will use its £1million Covid-19 Residents Support Scheme, the majority of which comes from central Government funding.

Councillor Young asked a series of questions of Cabinet Members and Council Officers, covering: how the Council will ensure people are not put off from applying for support, how support will adapt if people are hospitalised, and how prepared other agencies are to deal with increased demand for support.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Young said:

“I am pleased that South Gloucestershire Council is using the money it has been given, to address the needs of those who fall outside the scope of the current support programmes, or who will lose out when existing support schemes are phased out.

“But The Excluded UK are a group of some 3million people across the UK, including many in South Gloucestershire, who have been particularly hardly hit. These are people who have fallen through the cracks of Government support and, despite constantly being reminded, central Government has done too little to address these gaps.”

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EU citizens in South Glos stuck in limbo as ‘Settled Status’ backlog soars

European Flags

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to grant EU citizens the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need, as new Home Office figures reveal that 920 people in South Gloucestershire are still waiting for a decision on their Settled Status application.

The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics show that, as of the end of December, there have been 14,100 applications from people living in South Gloucestershire, but only 13,180 of these have been concluded.

The figures also reveal that 5,520 people in South Gloucestershire have only been granted temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’. That means a total of 6,440 South Gloucestershire applicants have still not been given the permanent right to stay.

Responding to the figures, Claire Young, Leader of the South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrat Opposition Group, said:

“Far too many EU citizens in South Gloucestershire are still living under a cloud of uncertainty. They must have the right to stay.

“EU citizens are an integral part of our South Gloucestershire communities. They are our friends and family, and Liberal Democrats will always stand up for them.

“We will keep fighting to secure their automatic right to stay, with the physical proof they need.”

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael added:

“Boris Johnson and the Conservatives promised to guarantee automatically the rights of EU citizens to stay, but they have broken that promise, as they have with so many others.

“The enormous backlog shows that the Government’s botched scheme is anything but automatic. It puts thousands of EU citizens at risk of becoming the victims of a new Windrush-style Scandal.”

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South Glos Liberal Democrats call for teachers to be vaccinated

Teacher with mask

South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have called for school staff to be vaccinated as they prepare for all children return to school.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that all children should return to school on 8th March, Councillor Jayne Stansfield, Liberal Democrat Schools Spokesperson on South Gloucestershire Council said:

“Despite some of the rhetoric, schools have not been closed over the past weeks – many children, vulnerable children and children of key workers, have continued to attend and teachers have been teaching both online and in person.

“The least we can do for our teachers and school staff, who have been working tirelessly and supporting pupils through repeated lockdowns is to ensure they are offered vaccines now.

“At the last full council, I asked the Cabinet Member to support prioritising the vaccination of teachers and school staff, to ensure their safety and to enable schools, when they do reopen to all children, to remain open.

“I would like to reiterate that call. To ensure teachers and school staff, who have put in a phenomenal effort over the past year developing and providing online education, at the same time as educating some children face-to-face, are safe – they must be given priority for vaccination.”

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Lib Dems call on Chancellor to give 27 thousand carers in South Glos a break

Carer & person using wheelchair

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to “give carers a break”, by giving councils immediate emergency funding so they can provide the support services unpaid carers need to take a weekly break.

More than 27 thousand people in South Gloucestershire are looking after elderly, disabled or vulnerable people during the Covid pandemic.

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, Ed Davey highlights research from Carers UK showing that nationally:

  • 64% of carers have not been able to take any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic,

  • 74% feel exhausted and worn out as a result of caring during Covid, and

  • 44% say they are reaching breaking point.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Chancellor to provide local authorities with emergency funding in his Budget on 3rd March at the latest.

Launching the campaign, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

“Our wonderful carers deserve more support, but they are too often forgotten and ignored by people in power.

“The Chancellor mustn’t ignore carers any longer. He must provide local councils with emergency funding now, to finally give carers a break.

“Liberal Democrats are working to build a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic.”

Councillor Ben Nutland, South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats’ Spokesperson for Adult Social Care added:

“People in South Gloucestershire looking after their loved ones are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances.

South Gloucestershire’s unpaid carers have taken on dramatically increased caring responsibilities during this pandemic. Most haven’t been able to take a single break since the pandemic started. Most are simply exhausted.

“Liberal Democrats are standing up for carers and calling on the Government to give them a break.”

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Build Back Greener in our High Streets - Liberal Democrats

Electric Car Charging

At last night's South Gloucestershire Council meeting, the Liberal Democrat Group proposed giving the Climate Emergency a greater priority as South Gloucestershire recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Liberal Democrat group proposed using the £120k allocated to support Downend, Chipping Sodbury and Filton High Streets to help those areas “build back greener” following the pandemic and asked that such investment should prioritise supporting initiatives that will reduce businesses’ energy costs and carbon emissions, and the provision of Electric Vehicle charging points.

Proposing the amendment, Councillor Claire Young, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on South Gloucestershire Council said:

“We fully support long-overdue investment in Chipping Sodbury, Downend and Filton High Streets. We know how hard they have been hit by the pandemic.

“We believe this funding should be used to build back greener in our High Streets. As we support the recovery of our local communities, we want to give the people and businesses of South Gloucestershire a clear route map to zero carbon, setting out house by house and business by business how they can contribute to and benefit from this, and providing electric vehicle charging points.

“We think that our vision of building back greener will make our high streets more attractive and show that tackling the climate emergency really does underly everything this council does.”

Councillor Louise Harris, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, said:

“The administration talks a good talk on the Climate Emergency, and we welcome some of the work they have done, but time and again we hear that projects have been unavoidably delayed.

“The point of the Climate Emergency is that it is an emergency and that requires action now, we can’t afford to wait a year or two.

“We believe the Council needs to do more to stop its Climate Emergency work being a desk-based exercise and start to see significant action on the ground.”

Speaking after the debate, Councillor Young said:

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the administration once again dismissed out of hand any proposals that weren’t their own. We need to see a significant change in the Council’s attitude to combating the Climate Emergency if we are to make good on our commitment to see South Gloucestershire achieve net-zero by 2030.

The Liberal Democrat amendments also supported the authority working towards becoming a Real Living Wage employer and ensuring future long-term investments take into account their environmental impact.

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