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What Liberal Democrats are delivering for you.

June 5, 2014 8:54 PM

The Queen's speech this week outlined the legislative programme for the coalition Westminster Government in the year leading up to the general election and demonstrated how Liberal Democrats, despite what our opponents would have you think, are delivering for people across the UK.

Pension reforms will introduce the biggest change to the way people are able to access their pension in almost a century, as it will provide people with greater freedom and choice to access their pension as they see fit.

Under the new system, people aged 55 or over, with defined contribution pension savings will be allowed to withdraw these savings, subject to their marginal rate of income tax and scheme rules. The new legislation removes previous restrictions to the way people can access their pension savings and allows people total control over the money they have put aside for their retirement.

New measures will help support working families with childcare costs.

The new scheme will give working parents with support equivalent to basic rate tax relief on money spent on childcare, worth up to £2000 per year, per child. Working parents will have access to government funding towards their childcare cost in the form of tax relief. For every £8 a parent pays for childcare, the government will contribute £2.

The funding is capped at £2000 per year, per child, but there is no restriction of the number of children for whom support would be available. The tax-free childcare will be launched in autumn 2015 and rolled out to all eligible families with children under 12 in the first year. This will benefit 6,900 working Families in RCT and 86,300 across Wales.

There were plans too to crackdown on employers who do not pay the minimum wage with larger fines and as part of the Small Business Bill, Vince Cable will bring forward plans to tackle abuse of Zero Hours Contracts. Small firms will be given fair access to government and other public sector procurement and highly paid public sector workers will be prevented from claiming redundancy and returning to the same line of work within 12 months.

The way national insurance contributions are collected from the self-employed will be simplified. Revenue and Customs will be given new powers to enforce payments in tax avoidance cases.

The laws on recovering criminal assets will be strengthened. The scope of serious crime prevention orders will be extended. A new offence of knowingly participating in an organised crime group will be created. Thanks in large measure to the efforts of Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams there will be a new offence of causing psychological harm to children through parental neglect created.

A number of the schemes will be enacted in England only as they cover matters that are devolved. A tax on carrier bags will be introduced - something championed by the Welsh liberal Democrats here and already in force in Wales. There will be direct elections to National Park Authorities in England. Also all children in primary schools in England will get free school meals.

RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats have broadly welcomed the government's programme, albeit with a couple of exceptions. We have already made it clear that we have concerns about the free school meals policy which some of our colleagues want to see introduced in Wales as in the current economic climate we think money should first be prioritise elsewhere in the education system.

We also have objections to the relaxation of fracking laws which could see companies given the go ahead to drill under private land without the need to gain their permission. There are several sites earmarked locally for the extraction of shale gas (fracking) and our opinion, in line with Welsh Liberal Democrat policy is that there should be no fracking carried out unless and until there is proof that safety concerns are unfounded.