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Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Lib Dems: Pensions and welfare policy

Find out more about Liberal Democrat policies on pensions and welfare

PENSIONS

The Liberal Democrats are committed to increasing the basic state pension by 5 a week, on top of the April 2002 increases, an extra 10 a week for the over 75s and 15 a week for the over 80s.

The Liberal Democrats, like the Conservatives, believe that too many pensioners are subject to means-testing as a result of Labour's policies.

They will reward pensioners who have saved by scrapping the rules which deny help to people with savings above 12,000.

They will also extend the basic state pension to all, regardless of their contribution history.

The Lib Dems are committed to providing universal state-funded, long-term personal care for the elderly and infirm.

And they will extend the winter fuel allowance to cover disabled people.

Like Labour, they are committed to introducing a flexible retirement age.

They would also set up an Independent Pensions Authority, which would report annually to the government on pensioner poverty and other age-related issues.

The party would also give members of private or company pension schemes a greater say over how the fund is invested.


FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN

The Lib Dems believe people on low incomes start paying tax at too low a level.

They are committed to reducing the tax burden on the low paid.

Rather than introducing more complex tax credits for families on low incomes - the party would raise tax thresholds to take them out of the tax system altogether.

For new parents, the Lib Dems would extend maternity benefits, and introduce a flexible parental leave benefit that can be shared between parents.

They also plan to alleviate child poverty by giving an extra 200 a year to families who have been on income support for more than one year.

And they would restore benefit entitlement to 16 and 17-year-olds.

The Lib Dems also plan to abolish the Child Support Agency.


THE UNEMPLOYED

The Liberal Democrats are committed to creating full employability, through improvements in education and training.

They would also reduce disincentives to work by integrating housing benefit into the Working Families Tax Credit - tackling an issue that Labour has found too difficult in its first term of office.

The Lib Dems would also abolish the benefit sanctions brought in under Labour's New Deal, which threaten to withdraw payments if people refuse to comply.

They would also extend tax relief on workplace nurseries to other forms of nursery care.

And shift the balance of the social fund from discretionary loans to grants.

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