Statutory shared parental pay would be doubled under Lib Dem proposals

Statutory shared parental pay would be doubled under Lib Dem proposals

Statutory shared parental pay would be doubled under Liberal Democrat proposals as the party said “not enough men” are taking leave.

Education spokeswoman Munira Wilson said an extra month of use-it-or-lose-it time off could also help many fathers who “simply can’t afford” to spend time with their babies.

Shared parental leave would also be increased to 46 weeks under plans being presented at the party’s autumn conference in Bournemouth, which is launching with a suite of proposals centred on education and childcare.

New parents are currently eligible for 37 weeks of shared paid leave, which the party wants to extend to 46 weeks.

Similar proposals featured in the party’s 2019 election manifesto, which the party has diverged from on other issues like Brexit.

But it argues that commitments on parental leave are central to the party’s promise of a “fair deal,” which forms the blueprint of its policy pledges going into a general election expected next year.

Statutory shared parental pay should also double from £172.48 per week to £350 per week to ease the financial burden for families, the Lib Dems said.

The party says it also wants to expand parental leave to include self-employed workers.

Unveiling the plans at conference, Ms Wilson said: “We need to persuade more Kens in this world to take a short break from doing beach and head on back to the Mojo Dojo Casa House. But I know that many dads do want to spend more time with their kids, they just simply can’t afford it.

“So Liberal Democrats will turbocharge parental leave, doubling pay so that new parents don’t have to rush back to work if they don’t want to, extending it to cover the first full year of a child’s life.”

Small-group tutoring to help pupils who have fallen behind in class would also become a permanent fixture in England’s schools under Lib Dem proposals.

Schools, sixth forms and further education colleges would receive £390 million a year to offer 12-week tailored support to around 1.75 million children under the plans, the party said as it kicked off its conference in Bournemouth.

The party is planning to use the conference, which it believes could be its last before a general election expected next year, to agree on policies to woo so-called “blue wall” voters in southern England.

Among other proposals is a policy to give a new “blue flag” status” to rivers in Britain to protect them from sewage dumping.

The designations would echo a similar international scheme that exists for beaches and marinas which requires a series of environmental standards to be met.

Sewage became a major political battleground during the May local elections in so-called “blue wall” seats in southern England, where the Lib Dems are seeking to win over traditionally Tory voters.

Funding to enforce the scheme would be raised through a so-called “sewage tax” on water companies, with additional fines levied on those who continue to pollute rivers with the special status, the party said.

Elsewhere, former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the Illegal Migration Act would be “ripped up on day one” of a Lib Dem government and hit out at Labour for being “too scared” to properly back those in need of sanctuary as he introduced the motion, which was unanimously voted through into policy.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP pitched the Lib Dems as a party not afraid to support those at risk of slipping into modern slavery “even and especially if it is not always popular to do so”.

He accused the Tories of being willing to put “victims of modern slavery at even greater risk if they think it will give them shallow political advantage”, adding: “We will scrap the absolutely appalling Illegal Migration Act in full – no caveats, no excuses, no cowardly backtracking. That Act gets ripped up on day one of a Liberal Democrat administration.”

Mr Farron added: “And the Labour Party, slipping back into New Labour habits. Too scared of tabloids to risk being seen to be on the side of those in desperate need of sanctuary and liberation.”

It comes after a row broke out between the Lib Dems and Labour over by-election campaigning in the blue wall seat of Mid Bedfordshire, which both parties are vying to win.

Labour has threatened to contact police over what it claims amount to “smear” tactics and inflated representations of the party’s performance in polls, while the Lib Dems have rubbished the accusations as “dirty tricks”.

Meanwhile, leader Sir Ed Davey ruled out a pre-election pact with Sir Keir Starmer’s party, telling the BBC: “I’ve said in every single by-election since I’ve been leader there will be no pacts, there will be no deals. And I don’t think voters want parties to stitch things up.”