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  • MH Graphic
    Article: Mar 17, 2021

    1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Still, the government have yet to treat mental health on the same plane as they do physical health.

    In a normal year, 300,000 people will leave their jobs in response to a mental health issue costing employers up to £42 billion annually. The impact of the pandemic will only increase this number as it has done for children.

  • Young people heads
    Article: Mar 15, 2021

    Youth Unemployment Highest Ever

    Wiltshire needs a plan for recovery, for the sake of our young and those who have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Since the start of the Covid-19 crises youth unemployment has increased by 2.1% or an increase of 66,000 people as opposed to before Covid.

    Unemployment is characterised as those seeking work but unable to find it. The number of people claiming unemployment benefit has increased by 120% among 16-24-year-olds.

  • Article: Mar 11, 2021
    By Ed Sawyer in Wiltshire Times

    LIBERAL Democrats have called for a green recovery in Wiltshire.

    The party outlined plans in their manifesto, Leading Wiltshire's Recovery, which calls for a new Wiltshire Climate Strategy to achieve the county's target of a zero carbon Wiltshire by 2030.

    This plan will evolve through consultation with local residents, organisations and environmental groups to make sure it works for everyone.

    Additionally, the party plans to attract businesses to Wiltshire through supporting an enterprise culture, and running programmes to help local people become entrepreneurs.

    The recovery plan is aimed at supporting all communities and ensure they benefit from a skilled workforce, attractive locations, improved transport links and excellent network connectivity.

    Cllr Brian Mathew, the LibDem Wiltshire Climate Change spokesman, said: "Urgency and acting fast is central to our plan for Wiltshire."

    "If elected in May we will kickstart the green recovery that we so desperately need.

    "Campaigners joined by myself and LibDem colleagues across Wiltshire have campaigned and held the Tory-led Wiltshire Council to account since the declaration of the climate emergency two years ago.

    "Now is the opportunity to achieve real change in Wiltshire. Our time to tackle the climate crisis is running out and urgent action is needed.

    "We are the first generation to know that we are destroying the environment and the last generation with a chance to do something about it. Our green recovery will achieve this in Wiltshire."

    Cllr Gavin Grant, LibDem Shadow spokesman for Finance and Local Economic Development, said: "We have a duty to ensure the recovery from the pandemic is one that protects the future of our planet. The current Tory-led Wiltshire Council is failing to do this and it's time for change.

    "In Wiltshire alone, youth unemployment is the highest it's ever been, Universal Credit claimants have ballooned, and 1,000 new children qualify for free school meals. It is clear that something must be done.

    "Securing a green and prosperous economic recovery is vital for the residents of Wiltshire and is at the centre of our plan."

  • Article: Feb 22, 2021
    In Gazette and Herald

    Liberal Democrats have proposed an amendment to the Wiltshire Council budget which could save residents across the county £2.8 million.

    The Tory-controlled cabinet has proposed plans to hike council tax by 4.99 per cent, including a social care levy, despite achieving a budget surplus last year.

    The move has been criticised by the LibDems who say it will hit residents and businesses hard in what has been a tough year for all.

    They say that in Wiltshire alone, over 15,000 children are living in poverty and many businesses are on the brink of failure because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    They claim that each household is set to miss out on a potential saving of £15 if their budget amendment is not accepted.

    Cllr Ian Thorn, leader of the Wiltshire LibDem Group, said: "Wiltshire residents and businesses have worked hard this year to battle the impact of Covid.

    "It's the duty of Wiltshire Council to do as much as it can to help its residents. Raising council tax by nearly five per cent will only make life harder.

    "We are proposing an increase of 3.99 per cent which will hand back £2.8 million to residents without affecting any council services. A welcome step towards recovery in Wiltshire."

    "Our view is that Wiltshire Council should not only consider its own financial wellbeing in the budget but the wellbeing of Wiltshire residents and businesses.

    "This year, Wiltshire residents have been badly hit by Covid. We have another 1,000 children in Wiltshire entitled to free school meals and we have a public sector pay freeze.

    "The LibDems and a future LibDem council will shift the balance from the needs of the council to the needs of our residents."

    Under the LibDem budget proposals, the Adult Social Care Levy would be cut from three per cent in 2021/22 to two per cent in 2021/22 with a further one per cent levy in 2022/23.

    The loss of funding is around £2.841m in 2021/22. The £2.841m shortfall could be met by withdrawing funds from the Latent Demand Reserve.

    The LibDems say they would increase the Hardship Fund from £300,000 to £1m in 2021/22.

    Pressure could come from a £700,000 shortfall, which would be made up by an additional withdrawal of cash from the Collection Fund Volatility Reserve.

    In addition, the LibDems would ringfence £1m of the funding that comes back from the Government to support businesses which are struggling to pay their business rates.

    The money arises against the £1m reduction of Section 31 grants attributed to business rate reliefs in the budget report.

    The funding would be transferred to an earmarked reserve specifically to support businesses that are in financial distress by giving them discretionary reliefs or discretionary grants.

    Last month, the Conservatives announced that Wiltshire families could pay an extra 4.99 per cent on their council tax if their draft budget for 2021/22 is approved by full council on Tuesday.

    Of that, 1.99 per cent is an increase in council tax for the council's general spending, plus a three per cent social care levy.

    This means that average Band D taxpayers will shell out £1,590.60 a year to cover the council's costs including highways, refuse, schools and social care. The 4.99 per cent is the maximum increase the council can charge before a local referendum is required.

  • Happy Family
    Article: Feb 22, 2021

    Liberal Democrats think local people should be involved in local decisions. It ought to be common- sense.

    But right now, too many decisions made at County Hall in Trowbridge are remote from most people across our large, rural county.

    So we want to change how Wiltshire Council operates to bring decision-making closer to the communities who are affected.