Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Meeting with Ming

May 29 2009
Ming: Ming:
Liberal Democrats want to create more affordable housing, says its leader The Liberal Democrats want to end dependence on benefits and create more affordable housing, according to leader Sir Menzies Campbell. Sir Menzies also claimed the Lib Dems should become the party "not only of the affluent and compassionate middle class, but of those whose lives are less financially secure." Speaking at a conference on poverty, Sir Menzies highlighted what he saw as key areas - education and the cost of housing - which were forcing more young people into poverty and homelessness. Dismissing Conservative leader David Cameron's social inclusion programmes as Victorian, and "nothing new", Sir Menzies also attacked the current government. While acknowledging that some improvements had been made under Labour, he said: "In many other respects, welfare reform and action to improve opportunity have been the disappointments of Labour's 10 years. "Overall income inequality is no better than under the Tories. Wealth inequality is worse, and relative poverty levels are still well above those in many developed countries." Sir Menzies also highlighted the disparity between the very richest and the very poorest in the UK, adding: "The extraordinary property boom has helped to widen wealth inequality." He described the lack of affordable housing as "a major failure of Labour's 10 years in power." "All new private development should be conditional on satisfactory social housing provision," added Sir Menzies. Sir Menzies pledged to cut the number of "nightmarishly complicated" benefits from 50 to 25, while "raising the net", or increasing the overall worth of benefits. He also wants to halve the number of people claiming incapacity benefits in the country. The Liberal Democrats would also change the pension system, to create a 'citizen's pension' rather than one based on contributions, and abolish Council Tax. Sir Menzies said: "When it comes to tax, we cannot be satisfied that those on the lowest incomes pay the highest share of their incomes in tax. Regressive taxes such as Council Tax need replacing." Sir Menzies said it was his passion for "a fairer Britain" that had been the main driving force behind his entering politics. "I am determined to take the fight for a fairer Britain into the mainstream of British politics," he said.