Due to recent changes, every pensioner will get a guaranteed rise in their state pension matching the highest of inflation, increase in average earning or 2.5%.
This means that this year 84,974 people in South Wales East will get a rise of £4.50 a week, totalling £19.9 million of extra money for pensions in South East Wales.
This is the start of pension reform under this UK Government. This week, Liberal Democrat Pension Minister, Steve Webb MP, announced that the Government will be introducing a flat-rate pension of £140.
South Wales East Regional Candidate, Veronica German, commented:
“During these difficult times, Liberal Democrats in Government are making a real difference for today’s pensioners.
“Many pensioners will remember Labour’s pitiful rise in the state pension of 75p, which was frankly insulting. This Coalition Government has given pensioners a guaranteed rise of inflation, an increas in average earning or 2.5%, which is the highest, for this year on.
“A pensioner retiring today can expect to recieve around £15,000 more in basic pension over the course of their retirement than they would have done under Labour.
“This new flat rate will particulary benefit women and will ensure future pensioners have the guarantee of a decent future, something the Liberal Democrats have been campaiging on for years and are now delivering in Government.”
Commenting further, Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb said:
“The bold commitment of triple guarantee of a rise in the state pension by the highest of inflation, the rise in earnings of 2.5% will make the pension system fairer – but Liberal Democrats in Government will not stop there. That is why I have announced announced the Government will be bringing in a single flat-rate pension of £140 a week. We will replace a complex pension system.”
1. The triple lock guarantee of a rise in the state pension by the highest of inflation, the rise in earnings or 2.5% was in the Liberal Democrat manifesto at the last General Election.
2. The Liberal Democrat manifesto also said that a Liberal Democrat Government would look into creating a simple, universal pension.
3. On Monday 4 April 2011, Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, published the Government’s Green Paper, ‘A state pension for the 21st Century’, which sets out plans for a single-tier state pension. A consultation will be held on when would be the most appropriate time to introduce this, with a view to do so before the end of this Parliament in 2015.
Veronica German has today called for the Assembly Government to reveal the findings of the feasibility test on the Newport to Ebbw Vale rail link.
The feasibility test, conducted by Network Rail for the Welsh Assembly Government, was intended to assist the Government into making an informed decision on the next steps that need to be taken.
The Assembly Government have always maintained that the study would be completed and announced by March 2011.
Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for South Wales East, Veronica German, commented:
“It has repeatedly been announced that the feasibility work would be completed by the end of the Government’s term. With only a month to go, we must see the results of Network Rail’s findings.
“The Deputy First Minister stated that no decision on the Ebbw Vale to Newport rail line would happen until the feasibility test had been conducted. I believe it is our right that he release to the general public the results that Network Rail have found.
“This saga has been going on for far too long now. In 2008 it was indicated that the service would be fully operational in time for the Ryder Cup. Now, with a month to go until the end of the Labour-Plaid Government, we’re still waiting for the results of the feasibility study.”
The Deputy First Minister has always stated that no work on this project could be done until works at Gaer Junction would be complete. In 2008 he announced that this would definitely be done by 2010. This year he stated it will now be done after April 2011.
Ms German continued:
“This rail-link is crucial, yet this Assembly Government has categorically failed to get it up and running.”
The Merthyr Liberal Democrats first became aware of Covanta’s proposals for an incinerator in 2008 and immediately organised a public meeting in the town centre.
From then on we have been trying to raise awareness of this issue.
This is not what some might describe as Nimbyism (‘Not in my back yard’). This is making sensible arguments against proposals that are too large and clearly contradict Welsh Assembly Government policy.
For example, the Government’s policy on waste states that any incinerator needs to function at 60% efficiency (or better) in order to be environmentally acceptable. To achieve this, incinerators must generate electricity and fully utilise the heat as heating for homes and for industry. These proposals suggest this will not be the case.
The size of the plan would demand that Assembly Government accept this single incinerator to deal with all the residual waste in Wales. That would require waste to be moved from all aprts of Wales. This is also against Assembly Government policy.
The incinerator planning process is an example of democracy not working. The consultation with local residents has been poor. It is startling the number of people I have spoken to who weren’t aware of the proposals, or at least were not aware of the size of the development planned.
I must question the Assembly Government’s role in these proposals.
Only recently I quizzed the First Minister on his Government’s involvement in the proposed incinerator. He informed me that it was “not a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government” !
In the past the First Minister has said that he would not be able to intervene because his Government was not a statutory consultee in the IPC’s (Infrastructure Planning Committee) application process. However, on the IPC website, it clearly states that the Assembly Government is a statutory consultee at both the pre-application and examination stage of the process.
The fact is that the Assembly Government could have influence if it wanted to. Carwyn Jones needs to explain why his Government has decided to stay silent on this.
The IPC suggest it may be useful for the local authority to receive comments from local people to help them compose a Local Impact Report. I believe there is a strong moral obligation for Merthyr Council to do this and I suggest that residents send their views to the Leader of the Council.
The incinerator would create a handful of jobs, but this would be incredibly short sighted: A recent report showed that increased recycling could provide more than 3,000 new ‘Green Jobs’ in the Heads of the Valleys. The research said that recycling creates 10 times as many jobs as incineration and the region could have a green, successful and thriving future. This is the direction the region needs to be heading, rather than the unsustainable incinerator.
First published in Merthyr Express.
Veronica and Cllr Jacqui Sullivan campaigning for the TICs to remain open
Assembly Member for South Wales East, Veronica German, has welcomed the publication of a revised report on the Tourist Information Centres in Monmouthshire, which now clearly states the value to visitors of personal contact.
Ms German commented:
“Since the previous discussion paper ‘The Future of Monmouthshire’s Tourist Information Centres (TICs)’ was published earlier this year my Monmouthshire Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have repeatedly said that that we do not believe web-based tourist services are a substitute for personal interaction and local knowledge.
“Right from the start of the consultation we have said that technology should complement the TICs rather than replace them”.
The new report now says: ‘New digital marketing technologies have a role to play in encouraging more people to visit Monmouthshire, but when they arrive, a face-to-face service is key’.
“I am thrilled that MCC have listened to what the Welsh Lib Dems and the people of Monmouthshire have been saying and that they have recognised that the service provided by the staff has an economic benefit to businesses across Monmouthshire. Now is the time to work together, supporting each individual centre to ensure that they can become sustainable businesses which will secure their future for years to come”.
To mark Wales Tourism Week, Veronica German AM has this week urged the First Minister in Plenary to support her calls for Caerleon heritage site to continue receiving funds to enable further investigation on the area.
Last spring students being trained in how to use mapping equipment discovered evidence for a Roman city outside the walls of the barracks. The area almost doubles the size of the known city of Isca and includes what is believed to be the largest single Roman building north of the Alps. It could be a granary or warehouse – or a palatial riverside villa. Since then, many academics have described it as the most significant Roman find in Wales in 100 years.
Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, look after the site at Caerleon and have funded the previous series of geophysical surveys and digs. This funding has not been renewed for the 2011 season.
Veronica German, Welsh Lib Dem Assembly Member for South Wales East, commented:
“A team from Cardiff and UCL have been working on the site for five years and have made some fascinating discoveries using geophysics. The scale of the find is truly impressive and it really ought to be investigated further. The fact remains that these kinds of investigations need significant funding.
“The site is an exceptional case in the United Kingdom as everywhere else where there were Roman Legionary Cities, such as York and Chester, the sites are under modern cities, making them practically inaccessible to archaeologists. This illustrates the importance of Caerleon to the UK’s heritage: it really is a special case.
“There is obviously a public interest as only recently a video animation of the site was watched by more than 500,000 people on the internet. It makes sense to continuing investing in Caerleon as it really could be a massive asset in terms of developing heritage tourism in the area.”
Responding to the Health Minister’s statement to withdraw the organ donation opt-out LCO, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister, Veronica German said:
“Withdrawing the order was a logical step given last week’s referendum result however an Organ Donation Opt-Out Bill should be a priority in the next Assembly term. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are fully committed to introducing a bill that would give hope to many people waiting on transplant lists so that they can live a healthy and normal life.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Veronica German AM has today welcomed the news that Welsh Assembly Government has confirmed that they will be providing compensation to Welsh victims of the contaminated blood scandal.
In January the UK government confirmed that payments to people in England who contracted Hepatitis C as a result of being given contaminated blood products would be significantly increased.
The Health Minister today announced that victims in Wales will be receiving the same levels of compensation as victims in England.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been vocal campaigners for justice for the victims of the scandal which saw thousands of people contract Hepatitis C and HIV as a result of being given contaminated blood by the NHS.
Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister commented:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have lead the way in calling for the Welsh Assembly Government to provide Welsh victims of the contaminated blood scandal with appropriate compensation.
“I am thrilled to see that the Government has listened to our calls and is now providing compensation which is the same as England.
“I am also glad to see that the Government has not included a date by which to claim compensation for those who have already died.
“However this statement is only the first step. I will be campaigning strongly to tackle other injustices that have occurred because of this incident”
“Furthermore I hope that the Labour-Plaid government acts fast and provides compensation in a timely manner.
“I will keep a close eye on this situation now to ensure that we are not left in a similar situation to the continuing care claims disaster, which left thousands waiting years for reimbursement for care they should never have paid for in the first place”
Veronica German AM has spoken out regarding South Wales East having many areas in Wales that has the worst rate of severe child poverty in Wales
A report, released by Save the Children, has shown that around 14% of children in Wales are living in severe poverty. This is higher than any other nation of the UK. Around 90,000 children were living in severe poverty in Wales, making up more than four in ten of all children.
Blaenau Gwent had the worst rate of severe child poverty in the whole of Wales. Torfaen, Newport and Caerphilly were joint second with 18% of children living in severe poverty. Merthyr Tydfil was also above the Welsh average, with 16% in severe child poverty.
Ms German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister and Assembly Member for South Wales East, commented:
“Whenever lifestyle and health figures are released is it is nearly always the same areas that are suffering the most.
“A number of targets have been set to eradicate child poverty, but these figures illustrate the lack of action and firm commitment from the Labour-Plaid government in tackling this issue. It is all very well setting targets, but these targets mean absolutely nothing to the people that have to live with such disadvantages in life.
“Inequality in Wales continues to be huge problem. There are huge discrepancies in life expectancy across Wales, where there is a clear correlation between those areas that are poorer and those with lower life expectancy. After over ten years in power, the Labour party has completely failed to tackle the issue of inequality.
“Child poverty limits future life chances for employment and training. The Labour-Plaid government needs to get a grip on this continuing problem as whole areas of Wales are being left behind. ”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have renewed calls for the Welsh Assembly Government to act quickly to ensure that Welsh victims of the contaminated blood scandal receive the same compensation as those in England.
Last month, the UK government confirmed that payments to people in England who contracted Hepatitis C as a result of being given contaminated blood products would be significantly increased.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats, who are leading a debate on the issue in the Assembly tomorrow, have been vocal campaigners for justice for the victims of the scandal which saw thousands of people contract Hepatitis C and HIV as a result of being given contaminated blood by the NHS.
Despite the Welsh Assembly Government promise to make a statement on the matter, there has been no announcement about their intentions.
Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister commented:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have repeatedly called for the Assembly Government to provide Welsh victims of the contaminated blood scandal with the same compensation as those in England. The Assembly Government needs to listen to the strong views on this issue and ensure that Welsh victims are not going to be left behind.
“We are facing the horrendous possibility that Welsh victims from this tragedy could be treated worse than those victims who live in England.
“We sought an immediate statement to reassure all those Welsh victims and their families that swift action will be taken but one month on we have heard nothing.
“In our debate tomorrow, the Minister must take the opportunity to make an unequivocal statement that Welsh victims and their families are to receive the same support as those in England.”
The full UK review can be found at: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_123363
More information on the contaminated blood scandal can be found at: