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Guest post from Nick Clegg: 'The economic rescue is working - but we know families are still feeling the squeeze'
News broke today that the UK economy is now back at pre-crisis level. Here, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg argues that although this is good news, there's still a lot to do to ensure families can build the life they want.
Deputy Prime Minister
Posted on: Fri 25-Jul-14 17:56:58
(202 comments )
The official figures are in: Britain’s economy is now larger than it was before the financial crash hit in 2008. There is still a way to go to get us where we need to be, with many British families still feeling the squeeze – but this is good news. It shows the rescue is working.
This is why the Liberal Democrats came into coalition in the first place, to provide the strong and stable government Britain needed to get back on its feet again. Four years on and Britain is going from strength to strength.
According to the latest IMF estimates, the UK will be the fastest growing economy in the G7 in 2014. We have more people in work than ever before, with 2 million more people working in the private sector than in 2010. The deficit is also down by a third: we’re borrowing around £3,000 less per family.
None of this would have been possible without the hard work and sacrifices of millions of families. Across the country, there are countless stories of workers in the private and public sector accepting pay cuts or pay freezes to prevent redundancies, keep businesses afloat and maintain essential public services.
In government, the Liberal Democrats have focused on doing everything we can to help Britain’s families weather this storm. The crucial question that every parent asks when weighing up whether to work or take on extra hours is: how much of my wages will I keep after I've paid for costs like tax, childcare, travel and so on?
The crucial question that every parent asks when weighing up whether to work or take on extra hours is: how much of my wages will I keep after I've paid for costs like tax, childcare, travel and so on?
To make that decision easier, we've secured a £800 tax cut for millions of ordinary people by raising the point at which you pay income tax to £10,000 - with a further increase to £10,500 next April.
The credibility we've gained by sticking to Britain’s economic plan has helped keep interest rates historically low, saving families money on their mortgage bills.
From this September, every family with young children will benefit from our plan to provide free school meals to pupils in reception classes, year one and year two – ensuring they get a healthy lunch and saving you around £400 for your household budget every year.
Also, if you’re a working parent with children under 12, we’re helping with childcare – from autumn next year, Government will contribute 20% of your childcare costs up to £10,000 a year. This covers parents working full-time and part-time and, for the first time ever, those mums and dads who run their own businesses. This will provide the equivalent of £2,000 per child, per year for every working family, except those on extremely high wages.
We've increased the hours of funded early-education available to every family with a 3 and 4-year-old to 15 hours a week, as well as 2-year-olds from poorer families.
We’re also making it easier for you to organise your childcare support in a way that works best for your family. From April next year, we’re introducing our new shared parental leave arrangements, enabling new parents to carve up the leave they’re entitled to with greater freedom and flexibility. We've already extended the right to request flexible working to everyone, to help boost that army of family members and friends you call on to help with childcare.
I want to help ensure that Britain’s children, whatever their family circumstances or background, get the best possible start in life. So, building on the success of our £2.5 billion Pupil Premium, next year, we’re giving state-funded early years providers an additional £300 to spend on every 3 and 4 year-old from poorer families to support their development further. This is one of the best possible investments we can make in our country’s future.
Together, we’re getting our economy back on track. There’s still a lot to do. But, as Britain moves from rescue to renewal, I'm determined to ensure that every single person has the opportunities and support they need to get on and build the life they want.
By Rt. Hon Nick Clegg
What are you doing about the housing crises? Near me, I've seen three bedroom family homes being rented out at £1400 a month. That's more than the average family wage packet. How is that even remotely reasonable?
And how are you going to do that when you lose your seat next year?
"None of this would have been possible without the hard work and sacrifices of millions of families. Across the country, there are countless stories of workers in the private and public sector accepting pay cuts or pay freezes to prevent redundancies, keep businesses afloat and maintain essential public services."
which essential public services would those be then?
because where i'm sitting there's a huge axe swinging in all directions, essential services like specialist support for schools are running on a skeleton crew, and our MH services are in crisis.
pay freezes which in real terms have meant pay cuts?
"sacrifices of millions of families" is a really funny turn of phrase considering that many people have died because of this government. Now I didn't think it was millions, only thousands, but I'm sure Nick Clegg knows better than me anyway.
"And how are you going to do that when you lose your seat next year?"
How can we believe a word you say?
Do you not think the underlaying issues of a large and widening gap between rich and poor are the cause of kids going to school hungry, millions of British children living in poverty and families stretching themselves to the limit to work like slaves to cover child care costs?
Do you not think that allowing house prices to balloon ( again ! ) results in the poor being even further stretched to cover exhaubitant rents.
We the people bailed out the banks and they continue to pay themselves multi million pound bonuses, fix the Libor and Forex with seeming impunity.
Deal with the underlaying problems.
If, and I don't believe it to be true, that Britain is in a better place economically, it has come at far too high a price for many people.
The wrong people were targeted in the first place. The sick, poor and disabled were not the ones who caused the problems but they have paid the highest price.
The free school lunch thing is the biggest waste of money going in my mind and was a pat on Clegg's head from Cameron to shut him up for a bit.
As for the bedroom tax, don't get me started!
I would say there are millions of families in this country, who actually live in the real world, still waiting to see any evidence of growth and who will still be relying on their nearest food banks for a long while just yet!
You have betrayed your party, and you have betrayed the people of Britain.
Nothing has improved where I live. People are in housing debt, but cannot move because if it. Go bedroom tax.
People who rely on services for a quality of life which can be called humane - humane! Not even good! Are bereft, and suffering.
Schools are in disarray, libraries have closed, vulnerable people are forced to feed themselves via the auspices of charity, people in jobs are frightened they will lose them and their wages don't cover inflation.
Those people you've so wonderfully helped out with a higher tax threshold are so disadvantaged and badly paid that they don't even notice the pittance that has so beatifically been granted to them. It's all swallowed up by the higher costs of utilities and food which are incurred when you have no option other than to use a card meter and buy food in the local shops because the bus fare there and back to the big shop would be a third of your food budget.
The children SHOULD be minded, educated and fed for free Nick Clegg, you will get no bouquets from me for any supposed increase in that, they are CHILDREN and their parents are STRUGGLING.
I am so angry with you and all your political ilk.
For shame, Nick Clegg, for shame.
As if you'll actually read these posts.
Nick why can I not transfer my tax free allowance to my husband while I stay out of paid work while I bring up my daughter? We don't qualify for child benefit tax credits anything. We are in the red each month, surviving on our savings. If my tax allowance could add onto his then we would be in the black. Why do you not value parenthood? As your new childcare scheme is only applicable if both parents work, whereas the old voucher scheme either or both partners could apply.
My economic worth in bringing up my own child is classed as zero by this government. I think that is shocking.
If you really, really think public services have been 'maintained' then you need to go to specsavers mate. Because round our way, despite the sacrifices of millions of families, they have been cut to the bone and beyond.
Also we don't like spin here. Have the guts to come on for a webchat and answer real questions if you're interested in the Mumsnet vote.
And.... Oh yeah... Goodbye.
I think Mr Clegg lives in LaLa land.
Your party has sold its principles for a tiny bit of power (in the less important departments). In return you've voted in favour of all the horrors that the Tories have come up with. For what?
I wish you a happy life after Parliament. I wish I lived in Sheffield Hallam, so I could help vote you out. But I'll look forward to my local LibDem MP losing her seat next May.
He's a politician.
In my book, politicians simply don't live on the same planet as the rest of us, especially those in government.
Possibly slightly trivially, there used to be 3 libraries within walking distance of my house. Now there are none.
And all these alleged jobs - I looked in the window of a job shop yesterday while I was waiting for the bus and, although the glass was covered with dozens and dozens of adverts, not one was for a real job. Apprentice everything imaginable and voluntary positions. These all count as job vacancies though, don't they?
Last comment is re bedroom tax. In my area, a 3 bed house rented from social housing costs �98 per week. A 1 bed private rental, of which there are hundreds, is �120 + per week. Yet a tenant will have to pay 25% of the cheaper rent themselves, but all the higher private rent will be covered. Bad economics.
Thanks Nick. Let me address the points in your post (for when one of your SpAd's collates the MN feedback).
Good news that the economy is growing. DH still doesn't have a permanent full time job though. He was made redundant directly as a result of your government's policies.
Thanks for that extra £800. I hadn't actually noticed it. I suspect the increase in energy bills and food prices swallowed it up. My food bills around 20% higher than they where when you came to power.
Free school meals? You know that the audience for your post extends beyond England and Wales? So therefore you haven't actually introduced free school meals for my son. The Scottish Government is though. my son's school doesn't have a kitchen and I gather no money is forthcoming to fund this new policy. And to be honest the meals provided at the moment are lacking somewhat. I'd rather provide my son with something tasty and nutritious. FWIW, I would have rather you spent the money on ensuring all children already entitled to FSM had access to a decent breakfast club. One that helped them with childcare so they could work and provided their kids with a breakfast that was more substantial than crappy sugar loaded cereal.
Extending childcare provision? Again, no impact in Scotland but I do notice that you often use childcare and early years education interchangeably. There aren't that many term time only jobs around you know, so those 15 hours of childcare don't help in the school holidays.
And have you realised yet that out of school hours childcare is a bigger issue for most parents? Not done much about that have you? Oh that's right, there's this new help with childcare costs thing. That will help some people, though I'm actually better off under the existing childcare voucher scheme introduced by Labour. What have you done about increasing access to good quality out of hours childcare? You didn't say. Is that because you haven't done anything?
So I'm really struggling to think of anything you've done to help my squeezed hard working family Nick. I'm so glad that when my son was born I benefitted from increased maternity pay and leave, increases in child benefit, tax credits for <12 months, childcare vouchers and 15 hours a week that were all introduced by the Labour Governments before you. As for your shared parental leave, we wouldn't have used that because we couldn't have afforded the drop in DH's salary.
I noticed that you didn't mention what you've done to help families with tuition fees for their kids (remember your general election pledge on that one?).
No pupil premium here, so I can't comment on that. We don't have sure start centres, but I hear lots of them have closed south of the border too.
How about all those extra people using food banks? Some of them are on MN you know - what have you got to say to them?
And what about the bedroom tax? You know, the one your government introduced. How convenient that you're trying to disassociate yourself from it now.
I don't blame you for trying to win round voters ahead of the general election Nick. It's your job. But the British people aren't stupid. They've seen you collude with the Tories in exchange for the trappings of power and they'll tell you what they think in May. I for one hope you lose your job and seat in May. Don't worry though, the economy is growing so I'm sure it won't be too long before you find a job. And unlike so many squeezed families who've gone through the same fate, I know your redundancy package will be very generous. That'll keep you out the food banks for a while.
I agree with everything just go has said about those of us who put in time to looking after small dc.
Secondly, the free school meals policy was a ludicrous waste of money. It should be means tested.
Finally, I will never vote for your party again after the university fee debacle. So sad that our dc will have years of debt if they choose to go down that study route.
Look mate, you just privatised the NHS.
In a coalition government in which you held the balance of power.
Even Thatcher didn't dare do that with a landslide majority.
Perhaps MNHQ should edit the title to be more accurate?
The economic rescue is working - because we've squeezed families and the vulnerable to save our chums
The people of Iceland are fast on their way to becoming among the richest in the world after suffering one of the worst crashes.
They did it the honorable way.
I have lost my job as a direct result of your policies. Universal credit is a failure and millions of pounds of taxpayers money have been wasted as a result of the entrenched position that it is " on time and on budget". I will spoil my ballot paper before I vote for you or Cameron.
How does that shared parental leave work for single parents then? Abusive XP has thankfully been totally absent for 5yrs, there isn't a snowballs chance in hell I would share leave with him.
And I'd love to know how you think the CSA charges will make families better off .
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