Pörksen hails Lib Dem policy packageto triple early years Pupil Premium and introduce 16-21 bus discount fares




Pörksen hails Lib Dem announcement of extra £6 million Pupil Premium funding to give children in Northumberland a brighter future, together with discounted bus fares for 16-21 year olds

Lib Dem candidate for Berwick Julie Pörksen has hailed her party's manifesto proposals as offering a real opportunity to enhance education for all children and young people in Northumberland and the wider North East.
More than 750 3-4 year-olds in Northumberland (9500 across the North East) would benefit from Liberal Democrat plans to triple funding for the early years pupil premium, with gives extra cash to nurseries, preschools and school receptions when they take on children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The cash would triple the funding to £1,000 per pupil per year - up from £302 in 2015-16. 

This will increase the allocation for Northumberland from around £219,000 £657,000 (North East total from £2.98m to £8.9m), and will pay for every disadvantaged child who benefits to receive 570 hours of state-funded early education.

It forms part of a series of policies the Liberal Democrats are announcing ahead of launching their manifesto, with a focus on giving children and young people a fairer future.

These include:
  • Helping people buy their first home for the same cost as renting, with a new model of ‘Rent to Own’ homes
  • Restoring housing benefit for young people
  • Creating a discounted bus pass for 16-21 year olds, giving a 66% discount
  • Introducing votes at 16 for elections and referendums across the UK
as well as:
  • Investing almost £7bn in our schools and colleges
  • Doubling the number of businesses that take apprenticeships
  • Tripling the early years pupil premium
  • Extending free school meals to all primary school students

Liberal Democrat candidate for Berwick Julie Pörksen commented:

“We will give children in Northumberland across the North East a brighter future, by investing in those from more deprived backgrounds to give them the best possible chance in life.
"I am particularly pleased that my campaigning on the issue of the cost of post-16 transport for school and college transport in Northumberland has been heeded with a commitment to introducing a discount bus pass for 16-21 year olds. This will be a significant help to young people facing long journeys to travel to study at FE colleges and sixth-forms."
“This forms part of a package to build a fairer Britain and ensure no child or young person is left behind.
“The Liberal Democrats will provide a strong opposition to this Conservative government and stand up against cuts to local schools, hospitals and regional funding.
“A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a brighter future for people across Northumberland and across the North East."

Notes to Editors

Tripling the early years Pupil Premium
The Liberal Democrats will increase the early years pupil premium – which gives early years settings extra money when they take on children from disadvantaged backgrounds – to £1,000 per pupil per year - this is up from £302 in 2015-16. This will pay for every disadvantaged child who took up their full entitlement to 570 hours of state-funded early education.

Rent to Own
The Liberal Democrats will help working people buy their first home for the same cost as renting, with a new model of ‘Rent to Own’ homes, where each monthly payment steadily buys you a share in the home, which you’ll own outright after 30 years, just like with a normal mortgage. This proposal is part of our plans to deliver 300,000 homes a year with government commissioning homes to fill the gap between private sector building and demand.

Restoring housing benefit for young people
The Liberal Democrats would restore Housing Benefit for 18-21 year-olds. Research by the Liberal Democrats has shown an estimated 18,000 young people will be potentially hit by the government’s decision to strip 18-21 year olds of housing benefit, which came into force in the beginning of April. Charities have warned the change could increase levels of homelessness amongst young people.

Young person's bus pass
The Liberal Democrats will introduce a discount bus pass available to all young people aged between 16 and 21 who are ordinarily resident in England. The bus pass will grant the holder a 66% discount off a single or return ticket on local bus services. Bus companies will be allowed to add their own discounts on top of that. The scheme would be implemented using the same mechanism as the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (the over-60s free bus pass).

Votes at 16
The Liberal Democrats will introduce votes at age 16 for elections and referendums across the UK, and make it easier to register to vote in schools and colleges. At 16 people are subject to all the laws of the land, pay taxes, can become a company director, get married, join the army and in many regards act as full members of society. It is right they get a vote at election time.

Investing £7bn in our schools and colleges

The Liberal Democrats will reverse cuts to frontline school and college budgets by protecting per pupil funding in real terms and introduce a fairer national funding system, which includes protection so that no school loses out.
Doubling the number of businesses that take apprenticeships

We will aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices, including by extending apprenticeships to new sectors of our economy, like creative and digital industries. As part of raising the number, and quality of apprenticeships, we will ensure that all the receipts from the Apprenticeship Levy in England are spent on training, aiming to fund a wider range of types of training.
Extending free school meals to all primary school students

The Liberal Democrats will extend free school meals to all children in primary education and promote school breakfast clubs. Liberal Democrats in government already introduced free school meals for all infant school pupils – now we will go one step further and extend this scheme to all primary school pupils, as resources allow. This will ensure every primary pupil gets a healthy meal in the middle of the school day – boosting their education, health and saving parents money.
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NELD response to Labour manifesto

Responding to the publication of Labour's election manifesto today, North East Lib Dem spokesman Greg Stone (GE candidate for North Tyneside) said:


"The 1983 Labour manifesto became known as the longest suicide note in history. Corbyn's 2017 rewrite is even longer and even more suicidal.  The country has spent the past decade struggling with the austerity resulting from the last Labour government's debt mountain, but this manifesto seeks to gleefully increase taxation and borrowing. Labour's sums quite literally risk bankrupting the country.

The electorate are being asked to put their trust in Corbyn, McDonnell, Thornberry and Abbott to run a competent government and it is clear that the majority of voters will find it very difficult to do so. There is much in this manifesto that is untouched by economic and fiscal reality. Public spending on our NHS, schools, and police can only be funded by a strong and sustainable economy in which business and enterprise can be supported to grow. Labour's plans involve backing the Tories on Brexit, clobbering employers with punitive taxation which hits jobs and the tax base, and 1970s style nationalisation of major industries. 
Unfortunately, the imminent Conservative landslide is an equally troubling prospect. The North East and the country need an effective Opposition and millions of people in the centre ground of politics are being abandoned by Labour lurching left and the Conservative-UKIP alliance lurching right. This Labour manifesto shows that the Lib Dems are now the only party speaking for the political centre."
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Pörksen: 5p fuel price jump hits rural Northumberland hardest

Pörksen: 5p per litre fuel price jump hits rural communities in Northumberland hardest

The drop in value of sterling since the EU referendum result last year is responsible for 5p of the recent increase in the cost per litre of petrol and diesel according to figures approved by an Oxford academic and endorsed by the former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg. This rise will hit the pockets of people living in rural communities like North Northumberland particularly hard.

The 5p increase works out at £2.50 on a tank of petrol for an average-sized car, or £60 per year for the average motorist – however, it is likely that this price will go up even higher in communities that lack access to local transport infrastructure.

For hauliers, the impact of the increase in fuel prices is far even greater, adding more than £2,200 per year for the average lorry. 85% of everything we buy is carried by truck, so the increase in fuel costs will push shop prices up too.

Commenting on the figures, Julie Pörksen, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Berwick-upon-Tweed said:

“Local residents are raising concerns with me about increasing food and fuel prices. Now, the government’s own figures show that it is people in rural areas that will pay the price for the Tories reckless Brexit strategy. Hard Brexit is already starting to squeeze the purse strings of people all around the country.  Hard working families living in rural Britain depend on their cars to get around, particularly since the Conservatives cut vital bus routes in our communities.

“As the Government push us out of the world’s most lucrative single market down the path towards a hard Brexit, the situation is only going to get worse.  Prices will continue to rise and make life more and more difficult for rural people

“Liberal Democrats will fight against such unnecessary costs affecting the families and businesses in our community.”



The average price of a litre of petrol rose by 6.9 pence between June 2016 and April 2017. Diesel prices rose by 8.5 pence over the same period.
Weekly statistics on fuel prices published by BEI1]
  20 June 2016 1 May 2017 Increase (p) Increase (%)
Unleaded petrol (pence/litre) 111.2 118.1 6.9 6.2
Diesel (pence/litre) 112.3 120.8 8.5 7.6
Given that the rates of fuel duty and VAT remained the same over this period, all of the increase can be attributed to the change in the non-tax cost of petrol.

By comparing the change in the cost of a barrel of oil in dollars and sterling, we can see that around a third of the increase was due to the higher world price of oil, with around two-thirds due to the weaker pound.
The oil price in dollars has increased by 6.5% between June 2016 and April 2017, but for UK retailers the relevant measure will be the sterling price. The latter has risen by 20.5%[1]. We can therefore say that around third of the increase is due to the oil price rising, while the remainder - around two thirds - is due to the change in the dollar/sterling exchange rate in the wake of the referendum.
The weaker pound has therefore increased the price of a litre of petrol by just under 5 pence (6.9p x 2/3 = 4.6p). This means the cost of filling up the average car[2] has risen by just over £2.50 as a consequence of the EU referendum result (4.6 x 55 = £2.53).
Based on figures previously published[3], we know that Treasury estimates are based on an assumption that a 1p increase in the price of fuel costs the typical motorist £13.33 over 12 months. Using this model, we can estimate that the average motorist will pay an additional £61.32 over the course of a year (4.6p x 13.33).
For diesel, the increase in pump prices has been slightly higher, and the proportion of the increase that can be directly attributed to the fall in sterling is just under 6 pence (8.5 x 2/3 = 5.7p).
Based on the Treasury’s figures, we know that over the course of a year a 1p increase in the price of diesel translates into £400 per truck. This means that hauliers will pay an additional £2,280 over the course of a year (5.7 x 400).
[1] The monthly average oil price in June 2016 was $48.25 / £33.96. In April 2017 it was $51.39 / £40.90.
[2] Based on a Ford Focus with a 55 litre fuel tank, the benchmark used by the RAC. See http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/RACF_fuel_fact_sheet.pdf
[3] In answer to a parliamentary question in January 2013, the government stated that a reduction in price of 3p per litre would lead to a saving of £40 per year for the average motorist, or £1,200 for a typical haulier (link). We can therefore assume that an in increase of 1p per litre costs the average motorist £13.33 over the course of a year, and the average haulier £400.
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Local man Andy Hagon to stand as Hartlepool Lib Dems GE candidate

If I don't do a good job, I'll have my Mam to answer to!
Hartlepool man Andy Hagon has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate in Hartlepool at the General Election on June 8th 2017. Andy said, 'I'm really excited to be standing in my home town. There can be no greater honour than serving the people I've cried with on the terraces, danced with at the Gemini, and sun bathed with on Seaton beach.'
Andy works in education, teaching, and coaching leaders and pupils, but is also an active volunteer, in particular working with young people. Andy said, 'I love working with young people, even though they keep telling me how ancient I am!'
At this election, Andy will be the only candidate focused on opposing Theresa May’s hard Brexit, but he sees local issues as being very important too.
Andy said, 'Hartlepool Liberal Democrats have been speaking to people about the sort of Hartlepool they want. We have listened and produced the Lib Dem Hartlepool Manifesto which you can download from our website
www.hartlepoollibdems.org.uk. No other political party has produced one but we think people need to know what local politicians want to do, to make Hartlepool a better place to live and work.'
Speaking about the type of MP that he would be, Andy continued, 'I want to be the MP for Hartlepool to help people live the lives they want and ensure our young people get every opportunity to be successful in life. And I'll have to do a good job, or I'll have my Mam to answer to!'
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Liberal Youth's Ciaran Morrissey to stand for Bishop Auckland at GE




Bishop Auckland Liberal Democrats have announced that their General Election candidate will be 22 year old Ciaran Morrissey. Ciaran is from Newcastle and is the party's youngest candidate in this Election in the North East region.

He is the policy officer for the party's Liberal Youth wing, and is a member of the Liberal Democrats national federal policy committee which is tasked with production of the party's election manifesto. He is studying for a Masters degree in International Political Economy at Newcastle University and is a graduate of the University of York.

This will be Ciaran's third election in recent months, having secured a 30% increase in the Lib Dem vote in two recent council by-elections in the region. He's campaigning hard on the ground in support of Lib Dem candidates for the Durham County Council elections tomorrow.






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Lamb: IFS report shows spending on NHS and social care to fall under Conservatives




Both health and social care spending per person are set to fall in the coming years under current government plans, analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed.

The figures predicted that health spending per person will be 1.3% lower in 2020 than in 2010 once the UK's growing and ageing population is taken into account.

Meanwhile even if councils make full use of powers to raise council tax to pay for social care, spending will still be 3.4% lower per adult than in 2010.

 Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb commented:

"These figures reveal the sheer scale of the crisis facing the NHS and social care in the years ahead.

“It’s time to be honest with the public about the bold solutions needed to ensure patients and elderly people continue to receive the right level of care.

“Otherwise we will see standards fall and hospitals collapse under the pressure of growing demand.

“The Liberal Democrats are prepared to take the difficult decisions required to secure the future of the NHS and care, including increasing tax.”


Notes to Editors

The IFS briefings on health spending and social care can be found here

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Porksen: MPs SATS report is insensitively timed

Liberal Democrat candidate for the Berwick Constituency, Julie Pörksen has criticised MPs as being insensitive and out of touch for releasing a report on Key Stage 2 SATS just before SATS week in schools.  

The report, published by the Education Select Committee, is critical of the changes to the SATS system introduced last year. Year 6 pupils will be sitting their SATS in Maths and English next week. 

Julie Pörksen, a student teacher currently training with Northumbria University's Schools Direct programme, commented:

"By releasing their critical report just before SATS, MPs are proving they are insensitive and out of touch and are not thinking about the well-being of pupils.

The SATS system does need reviewing, but there is a time and a place for those reviews. I hope in future they will be more considerate of the timing of their reports. As a trainee teacher, I know just how much SATS influence our education system - but we should be thinking more about the people not just the system.

At this critical point in time pre-SATS, I believe we should all support the pupils, parent and teachers who together are working hard towards the best results they can achieve in Maths and English. I hope all pupils have a relaxing weekend and wish everyone the best of luck to everyone involved in SATS next week." 



Note to editor:

Education Select Committee report 


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Dr John Appleby to stand for the Lib Dems in Tynemouth at the GE




North Tyneside mayoral candidate Dr John Appleby to stand for the Lib Dems as candidate for Tynemouth at the General Election

North Tyneside Liberal Democrats have announced academic Dr John Appleby as their candidate for the Tynemouth constituency at the General Election. Dr Appleby is also the party's candidate for the North Tyneside mayoral election.John lives in Whitley Bay, and has lived in the North-East for over thirty years.  He is the Head of Mechanical Engineering at Newcastle University, responsible for balancing teaching and research, and the interests of over 1000 students and staff.  He has been a councillor for a disadvantaged area of Newcastle, a school governor, trustee of several charities, union branch president, and a member of regional and national church committees.  His interests include reading, hill-walking and folk music.

John says:

"Politically I’m a pragmatist, aiming to balance well-being and concern for the vulnerable with the need to run things efficiently in everybody’s interests.  I always aim to find ‘constructive consensus’ – ways to move forward that everyone can buy into. Overall, my priorities are the environment, and increasing cooperation within the UK, with Europe, and the wider world through dialogue, education and trade. 

As a professional in Higher Education, I see the value of our international students (who should not be regarded as migrants) and the vital importance of our science and research sectors. Right now, we need to get the best deal with Europe in everyone’s interests, with a final decision taken by the British people.  A bad deal with Europe will leave everyone worse off, and with worse prospects for human and animal welfare, nuclear safety and the environment."

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Hodson: Lib Dems vow to end rough sleeping in the North East

Lib Dems commit to ending rough sleeping in the North East

The Liberal Democrats have become the first major party to commit to ending the "national scandal" of rough sleeping across Britain, including in Sunderland.

The latest figures show there were 18 people sleeping rough in Tyne and Wear in 2016, up from 14 the previous year. This includes 3 people under 25.

Meanwhile new research has revealed that 1,997 homes in the possession of the region's five Labour- controlled councils  are vacant, despite the housing crisis.

The Liberal Democrats have set out a series of measures to end rough sleeping, including introducing a Housing First provider in each local authority that would put long-term homeless people straight into independent homes rather than emergency shelters.

The news comes as a coalition of homelessness charities, including Centrepoint, Crisis, Homeless Link, Shelter and St Mungo’s, have called on political parties to commit to end rough sleeping in Britain.

Niall Hodson, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Sunderland, said:

“It is a national scandal that so many people are sleeping on the streets in 21st century Britain.

“By increasing support for homelessness prevention and properly funding emergency accommodation, we can end rough sleeping in Tyne and Wear and across the country.

"It is likewise a disgrace that despite the housing crisis, so many council homes owned by North East Labour councils are lying empty.

“We will ensure our local authority has at least one provider of Housing First services, to allow long-term homeless people to live independently in their own homes.

“The evidence suggests that supporting people and giving them long-term, stable places to stay is far more successful in tackling homelessness than constantly moving them to different temporary accommodation.

“Under this government, homelessness has soared and young people have been stripped of housing benefit, threatening to make matters even worse.

“This election is a chance to change the direction of this country and stand up for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united."


Notes to Editors

Figures on the number of people sleeping rough by local authority can be found here.

The Housing First model, developed in the United States, has demonstrated high degrees of success in supporting those who are chronically street homeless according to research by homelessness charity Shelter (link).

The total annual cost of homelessness to the state is estimated at £1 billion (link)

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Lib Dems announces Gateshead, Blaydon, and Jarrow candidates

Lib Dems choose Gateshead candidates


Liberal Democrats in Gateshead have announced their candidates for the snap general election. And they bring with them a combined total of 78 years of representing local people.


Frank Hindle, a former computing lecturer, has been chosen for Gateshead constituency. He was first elected to Gateshead Council in 1991 when he won his seat in Low Fell.  During his time as a Councillor this former Conservative/Labour marginal has become a Lib Dem election stronghold.


Frank served as a spokesperson on Health and Care issues before being Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead from 2011 to 2015. Frank stood down as a Councillor last year and since then has focussed his time on a range of other political and community initiatives.


Peter Maughan, a solicitor, has been selected for Jarrow which includes 2 wards from Gateshead: Pelaw and Heworth (won by the Lib Dems from Labour last year) and Wardley and Leam Lane. Peter was first elected to Gateshead Council in 1994 for Whickham North when he took the seat from Labour.


Jonathan Wallace, who lives the “good life” in Sunniside where he keeps goats, bees and chickens and grows his own food, has been chosen to fight Blaydon for the Liberal Democrats. Jonathan was first elected to Gateshead Council for Whickham South and Sunniside in 1987 when he won the seat from the Conservatives. He became Leader of the Opposition in 2015.


“Labour have taken our area for granted for too long,” said Frank. “We are going to give Labour a run for their money in Gateshead. Everyone knows that only the Lib Dems can mount a serious challenge to Labour’s dominance here.”


“As Lib Dem Councillors in Gateshead, we have shown how we will do the job of being local MPs,” said Jonathan. “We will keep in touch with residents and be accessible. We will keep residents informed and engaged.


“Labour have taken our area for granted for too long and we intend putting them out to grass so our area can have a strong voice in Parliament to oppose the Conservative government.”


“Labour have failed as an opposition to the Conservatives, never mind as an alternative government,” said Peter. “They even threw in their lot with the Conservatives when it came to fighting for Britain to stay in the Single Market, so vital for our manufacturing jobs in the North East.”

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