Election 2016 – The Manifestos: Lib Dems

 

A Wales that Works for You – English (pdf); Cymraeg (pdf)

Health & Social Services

  • Allow health and social service providers to establish integrated health services, delivered by local authorities and local health boards.
  • Expand the Nursing Levels Act to increase the number of nurses.
  • Introduce an Access to GPs scheme to ensure people can get appointments and register with a GP near their place of work.
  • Develop an All-Wales Patient Funding Request Panel to remove the “exceptionality”problems which prevent newer drugs being prescribed or funded by the NHS.
  • Introduce mobile chemotherapy units and/or include chemotherapy services in community hospitals.
  • Mental health :
    • Introduce a Mental Health Bill to ensure parity between mental and physical health.
    • Gradually increase mental health spending over the course of the term to meet relative needs of the population.
    • Reduce waiting times for Child & Adolescent mental health.
  • Set a target to improve dementia diagnoses rates to 75%.
  • Ensure local authorities no longer use 15-minute time slots for personal care and raise the capital allowance limit for social care.
  • Public health :
    • Abolish Public Health Wales and transfer its functions and funding to local government.
    • Ensure A&Es have an out-of-hours service for non-urgent cases.
    • Use the proceeds of the UK “sugar tax” to fund anti-obesity measures.
    • Protect the right to use e-cigarettes in public and oppose any ban or restriction on their use.
    • Introduce HPV vaccines for boys and men.
  • Scrap Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and establish a new inspectorate independent of government, with a Chief Inspector of Hospitals and Care.
  • Introduce a whistleblowing hotline for NHS staff.
  • Draft a Compact for Cross-border Health Provision to ensure consistent treatment for cross-border patients using either NHS.
  • Introduce an Autism Bill to meet the needs of autistic people.

Education & Young People
  • Reduce the size of infant classes to 25 pupils, via a £42million Infant Class Reduction Grant.
  • Offer 10 hours of free childcare a week to all working parents lasting from the end of paid parental leave until their child is 2.
  • Introduce a Qualified Early Years Teacher status.
  • Eradicate child illiteracy and innumeracy by 2025.
  • Abolish Regional Education Consortia.
  • Establish an Education Standards Authority to set curriculum content – independent of government – and around a “curriculum for life” which will include financial literacy, first aid, citizenship, coding and relationships.
  • Presumption against closure of rural schools, which would be protected in a Rural Schools Bill.
  • Double the number of apprenticeships, with investment in apprenticeship facilities at FE colleges and grants to SMEs to take on people not in work, training or education as apprentices.
  • Introduce an Additional Learning Needs Bill to support and protect special needs pupils.
  • Create a National Cyber College to promote online courses.
  • Introduce a Student Living Support Grant of £2,500 a year for Welsh first-time undergraduates studying anywhere in the UK to replace the Tuition Fee Support Grant. They estimate it will result in an extra £80million for Welsh universities.
  • Tuition fees for care leavers will be paid for by the government.
  • Extend concessionary fare schemes to full-time students.
  • Will lower the voting age to 16 and establish an independent National Youth Parliament.

Economic Development
  • Draft a 25-year Sustainable Growth Strategy, which includes encouraging local authorities to procure more services from local small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Cut red tape and regulatory burdens via a “one rule in, one rule out”policy, enshrined in a Regulatory Reform Bill.
  • Establish a Welsh Development Bank via an Economic Growth Bill. The bank will include arms dealing with : small business advice, international opportunities and infrastructure investment.
  • Develop an innovation strategy to boost links between universities and the private sector, provide extra funding to teach “expensive” subjects like engineering and establish an international alumni network.
  • Establish a programme to improve the employment prospects of the over-50s.
  • Scrap enterprise zones, replacing them with “growth zones” managed by local enterprise partnerships.
  • Encourage businesses to take on empty shops through a Reoccupation Relief Scheme and offer 50% business rate relief for shops that have been empty for a year or more.
  • Will apply business rates to out-of-town car parks larger than 1000sqm with more than 45 spaces.
  • Steel crisis :
    • Seek to remove plant and machinery from business rates.
    • Introduce a financial support package for plants affected, tapering off as the plants become more financially sound.
    • Lobby the EU to strengthen anti-steeldumping measures, scrap the lesser-duty rule and oppose Market Status for China.
    • Build an investment plan for Port Talbot steelworks so it can compete in the future, and create an urban development company for Port Talbot.

Transport & Infrastructure
  • A 10-year rolling capital investment plan, leveraging investment from the Welsh Development Bank.
  • Ensure every business hub, hospital and school has access to superfast broadband by 2017, and encourage the spread of free wi-fi in town centres.
  • Create Passenger Transport Authorities to deliver integrated transport in their areas, including : a North Wales Metro, better transport connectivity in mid-Wales and expanding the South Wales Metro to include Swansea.
  • Press the UK Government to timetable electrification of the north Wales mainline, and press forward with electrification of the Valley Lines.
  • Draft a rolling stock strategy to deliver more comfortable trains.
  • Seek to keep major cross-border routes (i.e. Manchester) as part of the rail franchise.
  • Investigate additional routes such as south Wales to south west England and commission a feasibility study on reopening the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth rail line.
  • Explore a “per mile” ticket cost for rail journeys within Wales.
  • Replace the North-South premier rail service with a standard express.
  • Make it easier to take bikes on trains.
  • Re-regulate bus services via a Transport for Wales Bill.
  • Introduce an “Oystercard” for bus services.
  • Scrap the north-south airlink.
  • Campaign to abolish Severn crossing tolls once the debts are paid off.
  • Scrap the M4 Newport bypass and seek alternative solutions to the Brynglas Tunnel problems.
  • Roll out 20mph zones in residential areas.

Finance & Tax
  • Will not raise income tax and will seek to reduce the basic rate of income tax (reportedly to 19%) once government spending increases.
  • Encourage local authorities to levy 200% council tax on second and empty homes.
  • Will establish a Welsh “Office for Budget Responsibility” and will publish a Welsh revenue and expenditure report (like Scotland’s GERS) alongside better monitoring of Welsh GVA.
  • They provided a detailed costings annex – the first party to do so so far – and estimate their programme would cost an extra £956million in revenue and £175million in capital.
  • They aim to save £1.17billion (~£234million a year) over the course of the Fifth Assembly through measures including, but not limited to :
    • Bringing unallocated funding to recommended levels – save £86.2million a year
    • Efficiency savings of 1.5% – £64million
    • Scrapping Jobs Growth Wales – £27.5million
    • Removing the school effectiveness grant – £75million over five years
    • Savings by scrapping the M4 Newport bypass – £12million a year

Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs
  • Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and 100% of Wales’ electricity to be provided by renewables by 2025.
  • Publish a carbon budget alongside the annual budget and add carbon risk assessments to all new Welsh laws.
  • Introduce a council tax break of £100 a year for 10 years when homes undergo energy efficiency improvements.
  • Support community micro-generation of electricity, particularly solar, via local renewable energy co-operatives.
  • Exploit offshore tidal and wave, including the Swansea tidal lagoon with possible expansion to Cardiff, Newport and Colwyn Bay if successful.
  • Aim for greater focus on offshore wind schemes and floating offshore turbines.
  • Will refuse fracking licences once the powers are devolved and will enforce a moratorium on fracking through the planning system in the meantime.
  • Protect funding for flood prevention schemes. Also, establish a Welsh standard for flood defences and prepare a national resilience plan to deal with the impacts of climate change.
  • Increase average fines for fly-tipping from £50,000 to £75,000.
  • Introduce a tax on waste incineration and pilot deposit return schemes to encourage recycling.
  • Establish a Welsh Planning Inspectorate.
  • Deliver a dedicated scheme to support farmers in moorland areas and help them diversify.
  • Promote greater use of native tree species in forestry projects, while speeding up the application process to create new woodland.
  • Ensure direct funding for the Young Farmers Club is maintained.
  • Review and minimise the use of cages, crates and antibiotics for farm animals.
  • Ban the use of wild animals in circuses and reduce live animal experimentation.

Local Government & Public Services
  • Give local authorities statutory duties over economic development, including retaining an appropriate portion of business rates income.
  • Commission a redrafting of existing local authority boundaries which should ensure local links are maintained; ministers won’t “merge councils by decree”.
  • Introduce a new Local Government Bill establishing a general power of competence and devolving extra powers over public health, regeneration, strategic transport and economic development to councils.
  • Merge smaller community councils into larger “cantref”councils.
  • Introduce a Community Bill of Rights to give communities a right to : bid for assets, run local authority services if they feel they can do better, build small-scale community specific facilities, reclaim under/unused public land for local use, buy/take over services that local authorities are closing.
  • Will link pay rises for AMs to general rises in public sector pay and will introduce a £90,000 cap on redundancy payments in the public sector.
  • Transfer responsibility for Commissioners from the Welsh Government to the National Assembly.
  • Support a Public Service Ombudsman Act to widen their powers when dealing with complaints.

Housing & Social Justice
  • Build 20,000 new affordable homes by 2021, funded by a £40million a year extension to the Social Housing Grant – set out in a Housing Bill.
  • Establish a Rent-to-Own scheme where tenants gradually build up ownership of their home over 30 years, with the aim of 2,500 Rent-to-Own homes being delivered by 2021.
  • Introduce a Help-to-Rent scheme to provide deposit loans for first-time renters aged under 30.
  • Replace letting agents fees with a schedule of set charges, and ensure rent increases can only be in line with the consumer price index.
  • Ensure local housing plans take into account local demand and factors such as impact on the Welsh language and the needs of down-sizing older residents.
  • Require houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) to have planning permission.
  • Simplify the process for creating “No Cold Calling” zones.
  • Encourage businesses to report on the diversity of their board members.
  • Introduce “name blank” recruitment in the public sector where possible and ensure all work programmes are accessible to the disabled and provide extra support to the LGBT community.
  • Double Welsh spending on international development.
  • Establish Wales as a “Nation of Sanctuary”for refugees.

Culture
  • Launch a campaign to encourage parents to send children to Welsh-medium schools, and reform how Welsh is taught as a second language in English-medium schools.
  • Expand the remit of Coleg Cenedlaethol Cymraeg to the further education sector and protect its funding.
  • Publicise services that the public can reasonably expect to be provided in Welsh and conduct a Welsh skills audit of health staff.
  • Reinstate a distinct Welsh Government culture department with responsibility for Welsh, tourism, heritage and broadcasting.
  • Establish a Cultural Endowment, with the aim of creating a sovereign wealth fund to invest in culture.
  • Campaign to reduce VAT on visitor attractions from 20% to 5%.
  • Support the Welsh Government being responsible for appointing members to the BBC and Ofcom.
  • Continue free entry to museums.
  • Protect funding for the Arts Council of Wales.
  • Give local authorities a statutory duty to protect cultural and sporting infrastructure.

Constitutional Reform
  • Supports devolution of policing and criminal justice powers in line with the Silk Commission recommendations. Also supports devolution of : S4C, rail infrastructure, community radio licensing, alcohol licensing, energy consents, taxi licensing and public holidays.
  • Will continue to argue for “fair funding” for Wales and reform of the Barnett Formula.
  • Will require breaches of the Ministerial Code to be investigated by the Standards Commissioner.
  • Establish a a system to recall AMs and a public register of meetings between ministers and lobbyists.
  • Reform how urgent questions are handled by the Presiding Officer, including a register of questions and reasons for rejection.
  • Enable selection of committee chairs by the whole Assembly.
  • Commit to increasing the size of the Assembly to between 80-90 members in line with planned reductions in MPs and local councillors.
  • Introduce a “none of the above”option on ballot papers and allow write-in candidates.
  • Introduce Single Transferable Vote (STV) to all local elections.

Major Faults :

  • Abolishing Public Health Wales and transferring its functions to local government is an extreme measure. Why should councillors manage public health?


Minor Faults :

  • Although they’re not entirely reneging on their pledge to cut the basic rate of income tax to 19%, it’s not the same headline-grabbing policy as advertised, with new conditions added.
  • The Nursing Levels Act was only passed a few weeks ago! Nurses are important, but they’re not the be all and end all of hospital care.
  • There are a few examples of unanswered “how?” questions – i.e. How will they reduce waiting times for child and adolescent mental health?
  • Raise the capital allowance limit for social care – to what?
  • “Bringing unallocated funding to recommended levels”….eh?
  • I don’t understand why the Lib Dems remain indignant over the north-south air link. It’s far from perfect, but they accept scrapping it would save just £4.8million in the Fifth Assembly. What could that buy?
  • What’s so wrong with the north-south premier rail service that it needs to be axed?
  • Couldn’t the “Welsh Oystercard” be expanded to all forms of public transport?
  • Suggestions Wales can generate 100% of its energy requirement from renewables in 9 years, at the current pace of developments, is “ambitious”, verging on unachievable – even if the Swansea tidal lagoon is built.
  • Creating a Youth Parliament while at the same time lowering the voting age to 16 sounds contradictory. If young people are able to vote why do they need their own talking shop?
  • It’s unclear whether Wales would have the power to reform ballot papers and introduce things like write-in candidates.