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Nick’s speech - Pensions - Mental Health – Spring Conference

March 19, 2015 11:25 AM

Nick in his speech to Conference today is expected to tell the hall to be proud of the last five years in Government and that the Liberal Democrats are here to stay.

The Deputy Prime Minister will tell the audience that our party has changed politics and that the election is a fight for our future, for the decent values of our country - and one we must win.

Record

We can do it. Ending austerity, cutting taxes, investing in education and health and protecting our environment ... we can say we will do these things because, unlike ever before, we have a record of action in Government to back us up.

A record achieved not in a time of plenty where there is cash to throw around, but a record achieved in the toughest of circumstances.

In May 2010, uncertainty was everywhere. As images of riots on the streets of Athens were beamed into British homes in the days running up to the election, people at home and abroad were looking to Britain and wondering if we would be next.

So when the chance came to enter Government, the big question we faced was: could we rescue the British economy? It wasn't just a question of what we would do, but a question of whether we were up to the task. Would we, this brave third party with no experience of national government, have what it takes? Liberal Democrats, we have been tested and we passed the test.

We rescued the economy. We held our nerve. And make no mistake, the recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats.

The story of the last five years is one of rescue at a time of emergency, but it is also a story of how we, in Government for the first time in generations, have delivered policy after policy to make Britain fairer. A story of spreading opportunity despite the toughest of circumstances.

More than 1,400 gay people are now married - hopefully happily. More than two million apprentices are learning the skills they need for their careers. 1.6 million boys and girls are getting a hot, healthy lunch every day at school. More than 26 million people on low-and-middle incomes have had their income tax cut every year, worth more than £800 from next month. And more than three million of the lowest paid workers are no longer paying any income tax at all.

Nearly 12 million pensioners are getting a bit more in their pockets thanks to the triple lock guarantee. Twice as many homes are being powered by renewable electricity. 43,000 small businesses have been supported by the British Business Bank. No more children of asylum seekers are being locked behind bars. And shortly, thousands of soon-to-be mums and dads will be able to decide for themselves how to balance work and family.

We did that. You did. All of us. Everyone in this room and everyone out knocking on doors, making phone calls and pushing leaflets through letterboxes. Every single one of us had a hand in making Britain fairer.

Changed politics

We did something else too. Something historic. We changed the political landscape forever. Five years ago we were told a hung parliament would be a disaster for Britain. We were told that without a clear majority for one of the old, establishment parties, Britain would collapse into chaos. We proved them wrong.

We broke the stranglehold of the two old parties and proved that coalition can be strong, stable and successful. We proved that the give and take of different parties working together can be a very British way of getting things done. We challenged the power of the vested interests on the left and right of the British establishment and we felt their wrath in return. And we are still standing.

At the heart of our success has been an incredible resilience. As Labour and the Conservatives flailed around, pulled to the left and right by competing factions, we haven't wavered. We have remained strong and resolute, anchoring the Government in the mainstream centre ground, ensuring stability and making sure that tough decisions were taken as fairly as possible.

It is because of our resilience that Britain has a strong, stable Government and a strong, stable recovery. It is because of our resilience that we have been able to achieve incredible things. And it is because of that resilience that we will defy the odds and win again this May.

Here to stay

So when people tell you we can't, tell them where to go. I have a message for all those who are writing us off once again: the Liberal Democrats are here to stay.

I've heard the predictions. I've seen the polls. But let me tell you this: we will do so much better than anyone thinks. In those seats where we are out in force, making our case loudly and proudly, we are the ones making the weather. I've seen it for myself in Liberal Democrat seats across the country.

We are showing that with hard work, strong local campaign teams and a record of delivering for people in national and local government, we can and will win. We have demonstrated it in countless council elections. We have demonstrated it in mayoral elections in Bedford and Watford. And we demonstrated it in Eastleigh in the only parliamentary by-election that was held on our turf.

It won't be easy, but winning shouldn't be. We need to persuade people every day between now and May the 7th that their lives will be better with Liberal Democrat councillors making a difference in their communities, Liberal Democrat MPs fighting their corner in Westminster and Liberal Democrat ministers serving them in Government.

Every Liberal Democrat elected in May makes our voice louder. So get out there and tell people what we have done to help them and their community. No one else will do it for us. Tell them what we have done to build a stronger economy and a fairer society and what we want to do next.

The next five years

The story of the next five years must be one of hope. If you are thinking of voting Conservative but are worried that they won't be fair - don't do it. If you are thinking of voting Labour but are worried they will ruin the economy - don't do it. If you think a vote for UKIP, or the Greens, or the SNP is harmless - it isn't.

If you want a stable government that won't lurch to the extremes of left or right, you have to vote for it. If you want a stronger economy and a fairer society, you have to vote for it. If you want a government that will create opportunities for everyone, vote Liberal Democrat. This is a fight for our future, for the decent values of our country - we can and we must win."

Pensions

The budget is expected to include plans to allow pensioners to cash in existing annuities as part of next week's Budget.

Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb

"As a Liberal I believe that today's pensioners should have the same freedoms as tomorrow's pensioners to spend their hard earned savings as they wish.

"That's why I proposed this measure and I am delighted to have secured it in this week's budget.

"Thanks to the Liberal Democrats in government, today's pensioners have already benefitted from the biggest ever rise in the state pension thanks to our triple lock guarantee.

"Now they will have more freedom with their own pensions savings".

Mental health funding

The Deputy Prime Minister announced today £1.25 billion pounds of new funding over the next five years to treat 110,000 more children with mental health issues, and provide rapid access to treatment for new mothers.

· Setting out the plans, the Deputy Prime Minister hailed the changes as a 'seismic shift to revolutionise children's mental healthcare.

· Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition and research shows that left untreated it can blight their adult lives. But until now, provision of appropriate care has been insufficient to meet their needs.

· As part of the package, the DPM has also announced that the first ever-waiting time standards for children's mental health will be introduced, and specialists in children's talking therapy will be available in every part of the country by 2018.The funding will also extend access to services for children under five and those with autism and learning disabilities.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

"There would be an outcry if a child with diabetes was left to cope without support or treatment. But that's exactly what's been happening with young people's mental health services.

"I have heard, time and again, harrowing stories from young people and their families about how they suffered and their condition deteriorated waiting to get the right treatment for serious mental health problems.

"That's why I am determined to start a seismic shift to revolutionise children's mental healthcare and end this unacceptable injustice.

"By introducing waiting time standards and committing to talking therapies for children in every region, we are helping to build a fairer society where young people can get the right treatment and support they deserve to live a better life."

Spring Conference

Only the Liberal Democrats will create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
At this Conference we will set out the Liberal Democrat vision for Britain, with spreading opportunity for everyone at its heart.
We are proud of our record of action in this Parliament and we are setting out our promise of more in the next.
The party has quietly gone about building the most nimble, localised and technologically-advanced general election campaign arsenal in British politics.
This conference is an opportunity for our party to come together and prepare ourselves for the long, hard campaign ahead - and we are ready for the fight of our lives.

It is our chance to set out our vision for the country and explain to the British people how Liberal Democrats in government can make a positive difference to their everyday lives.

Our job is to offer the electorate a picture of the future that is not steeped in the politics of fear, division and prejudice, but instead has its foundations in openness, tolerance and compassion.

Put simply, our mission is to create a stronger economy and a fairer society where there is opportunity for everyone.

We want to see a liberal Britain where you and the people you care about have the freedom, the space, and the opportunity to flourish.

That is why we will:

1. Balance the budget fairly and invest to build a high skill, low carbon economy.

2. Cut taxes by an additional £400 by raising the tax-free allowance to £12,500.

3. Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class.

4. Invest £8bn to improve our NHS and guarantee equal care for mental health.

5. Protect nature and fight climate change with five green laws.

Record of action and promise of more

The coming days are also our chance to look back proudly over the last five years and reflect on the many millions of people who have benefitted from Liberal Democrats in Government. Make no mistake, Britain is now a more liberal, fairer and more prosperous country because of our time in office.

Our record of action in this Government underpins our promise of more in the next. Research by UCL shows that 75% of our manifesto made it into the Coalition's Programme for Government.

This record shows we are the only party that can balance the budget, continue to cut taxes for those on ordinary incomes, and tackle mental health problems with the same vigour as physical health problems. It also proves we are the only party that can properly fund our NHS, protect civil liberties, protect education budgets, and protect our environment.

Now is the time to take this record of delivery to the doorsteps, streets and townhalls and campaign on our promise of more - only with Liberal Democrats in Government can we build the stronger economy and fairer society we need to create opportunity for everyone.

We can say we will finish the job of balancing the books because we have halved the deficit
We can say we will renew Britain's economy because we have helped business create 1.8 million new jobs and two million new apprenticeships
We can say we will cut taxes for working people because we cut income tax by £800 for 25 million low and middle income earners
We can say we will protect education spending from cradle to grave because we protected the schools budget and provided an extra £2.5 billion for disadvantaged kids
We can say we will expand free childcare to all two-year-olds because we have provided free child care to all 3 and 4 year olds and 40% of 2 year olds
We can say we will help young people with their travel to work or training because we have invested in work and training through two million apprenticeships
We can say we will give fathers more paternity leave because we have introduced shared parent leave
We can say we will invest in mental health because we have protected the NHS budget