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General Election: Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2019

We have looked at the proposals made by the Liberal Democrats in their 2019 General Election manifesto.

We have mapped, as best we can, the proposals they have made against the demands we are making in our manifesto for women’s rights. Please check the Liberal Democrat manifesto itself for more details.

We will do the same for Labour and the Conservatives. 

Some starter questions:

  1. How many times is the word woman or women used in the manifesto?

8*

* We originally stated it was 5 but we have checked and found 3 more references.

2. Does the manifesto commit to upholding the single sex exemptions in the Equality Act?

No

3. What does the manifesto say about reforming the Gender Recognition Act?

  • Complete reform of the Gender Recognition Act to remove the requirement for medical reports, scrap the fee and recognise non-binary gender identities.
  • Introduce an X gender option on passports and extend equality law to cover gender identity and expression.
  • Complete the introduction of equal marriage, by:
    • Removing the spousal veto.
    • Allowing those marriages that were dissolved solely due to the Gender Recognition process to be retrospectively restored.

WPUK Comment

We believe any proposals to change the Gender Recognition Act should only be made after proper consideration of all submissions to the consultation which closed on 21 October 2018. Such a law change must be subject to an Equality Impact Assessment to ensure that any changes do not infringe the rights of others especially those with legally protected characteristics.

We are opposed to the removal of the ‘spousal veto’ which is more correctly entitled ‘spousal consent’. This proviso protects the right of a spouse to leave a marriage if her/his partner decides to transition to another gender. Read our statement on spousal consent .

Comparison with WPUK manifesto

Economic Status

Woman’s Place UK manifesto demands Liberal Democrat manifesto promises
Take action to achieve equal pay, such as compulsory equal pay audits, the collection of sex disaggregated data and better enforcement of the Equality Act 2010. Extend the Equality Act to all large companies with more than 250 employees, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.
Introduce, as a right, a Citizens’ Pension based on the Dutch tax-funded model, payable at state pension age to each long-term resident and set at the Minimum Income Standard. Retain the Triple Lock on the basic state pension, so that it rises in line with the highest of wages, prices or 2.5 per cent.

Ensure that the women born in the 1950s are properly compensated for the failure of government to properly notify them of changes to the state pension age, in line with the recommendations of the parliamentary ombudsman.

Address continuing inequalities in pensions law for those in same-sex relationships.

Reinstate universal child benefit for all children.
Value the caring work done by women. Invest in social infrastructure, including access to free universal childcare and adult social care. Offer free, high-quality childcare for every child aged two to four and children aged between nine and 24 months where their parents or guardians are in work: 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year.

Increase the funding for these free hours to cover the actual cost of nursery provision.

Invest £1 billion a year in Children’s Centres to support families and tackle inequalities in children’s health, development and life chances.

Triple the Early Years Pupil Premium (to £1,000) to give extra help to disadvantaged children who are at risk of falling behind from the very beginning of their education.

Require all Early Years settings to have a training programme for staff, with the majority of staff working with children to have a relevant Early Years qualification or be working towards one.

In the long run, each Early Years setting should have at least one person qualified to graduate level.

Introduce ‘baby boxes’ in England, as advocated by the Royal College of Midwives, to provide babies and parents with essential items.

Raise £7 billion a year additional revenue which will be ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services. This revenue will be generated from a 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax (this revenue will be neither levied nor spent in Scotland.)

Use this cash to relieve the crisis in social care, tackle urgent workforce shortages, and to invest in mental health and prevention services.

Improve access to the labour market for women and an end to occupational segregation. Require organisations to publish parental leave and pay policies.

Continue the drive for diversity in business leadership, pushing for at least 40 per cent of board members being women in FTSE 350 companies and implementing the recommendations of the Parker review to increase ethnic minority representation.

Extend the Equality Act to all large companies with more than 250 employees, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.

Extend the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and encourage their use in the private sector.

Improve diversity in public appointments by setting ambitious targets, which go further than targets for the private sector, and require reporting against progress with explanations when targets are not met.

Develop a free, comprehensive unconscious bias training toolkit and make the provision of unconscious bias training to all members of staff a condition of the receipt of public funds.

Prohibit redundancy in pregnancy and maternity; increased rates of Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance, the right to breastfeed at work, and reinstatement of Sure Start grants. Increase statutory paternity leave from the current two weeks up to six weeks and ensure that parental leave is a day-one right, and address continuing inequalities faced by same-sex couples. Require organisations to publish parental leave and pay policies.
A day one right to flexible working.
Increase levels of asylum support and protection. Make providers of asylum support accommodation subject to a statutory duty to refer people leaving asylum support accommodation who are at risk of homelessness to the local housing authority.

Give asylum seekers the right to work three months after they have applied and resettling 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children in the UK over the next ten years.

Provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK by resettling 10,000 vulnerable refugees each year and a further 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe over the next ten years, and expanding family reunion rights.

Fund community-sponsorship projects for refugees, and reward community groups who develop innovative and successful ways of promoting social cohesion.

Offer asylum to people fleeing the risk of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identification, end the culture of disbelief for LGBT+ asylum seekers and never refuse an LGBT+ applicant on the basis that they could be discreet.

Move asylum policymaking from the Home Office to the Department for International Development and establish a dedicated unit to improve the speed and quality of decision-making.

Provide free basic English lessons to refugees and asylum seekers and scrap the 16 hours-per-week rule with respect to financial support for those unable to work due to insufficient English.

Provide public health services, including maternity services, to people from the moment they arrive in the UK.

Increase the ‘move-on period’ for refugees from 28 days to 60 days.

Overhaul of the Universal Credit system to:

·       End the family cap that leaves children without welfare support;

  • Scrap the rape clause that forces mothers to disclose rape or coercive control;
  • Reduce the wait for payments;
  • Allow for separate payments by default;
  • Improve work incentives for second earners;
  • Restore the disregard for Maternity Allowance.
Make the welfare system work by:

· Reducing the wait for the first payment from five weeks to five days.

· Tackling child poverty by removing the two-child limit and the benefits cap.

· Making work pay by increasing work allowances and introducing a second earner work allowance.

Establish a legal right to food to enshrine in law the government’s responsibility to ensure that existing and new public policy is audited for its impact on food security.

Reform Universal Credit to be more supportive of the self-employed.

Ensure that everyone gets the help they need by separating employment support from benefits administration and increase spending on training and education.

Restore the link between Local Housing Allowance and average rents. Increase Local Housing Allowance in line with average rents in an area.

Abolish the bedroom tax and introduce positive incentives for people to downsize.

Other proposals

  • End period poverty by removing VAT on sanitary products and providing them for free in schools, hospitals, hostels, shelters, libraries, leisure centres, stadiums, GP surgeries, food banks, colleges and universities.
  • Scrap the so-called ‘Pink Tax’, ending the gender price gap.

WPUK Comment:

We support the removal of the ‘Tampon Tax’ and any other taxes which are unfairly placed on products bought by women and girls.

We believe that poverty is the key factor in women’s lower economic status and this is best tackled by challenging the structural inequalities faced by women rather than tackling the symptoms. Women’s suffer disproportionately from poverty in all its manifestations.

An end to violence, harassment and abuse of women and girls

Woman’s Place UK manifesto demands Liberal Democrat manifesto promises
Recognise prostitution as sexually abusive exploitation which is harmful to all women and girls.
Implement the abolitionist model, criminalising those who exploit prostituted people (including pimps and sex buyers) and decriminalising the prostituted, providing practical and psychological exiting support.
Ratify the Istanbul Convention.  Ratify and bringing into law the Istanbul Convention.
Sustainable investment from national government, proportionate to demand, to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG), including single-sex support services, and specialist independent services run by and for women, BME women, migrant women, disabled women, lesbians, and services tackling FGM and other harmful practices. Legislating for a statutory definition of domestic abuse that includes its effects on children. Expanding the number of refuges and rape crisis centres. Ensuring sustainable funding for specialist independent support services. Giving local authorities the duty and funding to provide accommodation for survivors of abuse. Establishing a national rape crisis helpline. Ensuring access to special measures for survivors in all courts and preventing direct cross-examination of survivors by their abusers.

Ensure sufficient financial resources for local authorities to deliver the Homelessness Reduction Act and provide accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse.

Highlight and tackle the harms of pornography including the exploitation of women in its production and the hostile culture it creates for all women and girls in society.
Legislate to protect women and girls from the impact of porn culture on their lives, including clear penalties for image-based sexual abuse.  

 

End ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ for abused migrant women, extend the Domestic Violence Rule and the Destitution and Domestic Violence Concession.

 

Improved access to healthcare

Woman’s Place UK manifesto demands Liberal Democrat manifesto promises
Free access for all women, including women in Northern Ireland and migrant women, to NHS services, including maternity care and abortion services. Decriminalise abortion across the UK while retaining the existing 24-week limit and legislate for access to abortion facilities within Northern Ireland.

Enforce safe zones around abortion clinics, make intimidation or harassment of abortion service users and staff outside clinics, or on common transport routes to these services, illegal.

Fund abortion clinics to provide their services free of charge to service users regardless of nationality or residency.

Fund research and national collection of sex-specific data on women’s medical needs and the provision of woman-centred healthcare. Ensure accurate population data on sexual orientation and gender identity by including a question on LGBT+ status within the 2021 Census.
Implement the NHS strategy of Elimination of Mixed Sex Accommodation in hospitals
Commit to uphold right to request a female clinician, carer or support worker and to have that request respected.
Female-only services for those with sex-specific conditions, mental health, drug and alcohol problems. Ensure that LGBT+ inclusive mental health services receive funding and support. Require that a fair proportion of all public funding for health research should be focused on research into mental ill-health, including research into the different mental health needs of different communities within the UK such as BAME and LGBT+ people.
Challenge the bias in design and research which is based on a male standard to ensure that the sex-based needs and health and safety of women are properly addressed.

 

Education & Training

Woman’s Place UK manifesto demands Liberal Democrat manifesto promises
Statutory provision of fully-funded and properly resourced inclusive Relationships & Sex Education taught by trained education staff. Tackle bullying in schools, including bullying on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression, by promoting pastoral leadership in schools and delivering high-quality sex and relationships education
An end to the provision of education by lobby groups and untrained or unregulated providers in all state schools and colleges. All external providers should conform to a statutory code of conduct and comply with the law including the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Introduce a duty on schools and colleges to challenge harmful gender, sex and other stereotypes. Challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation, working with schools to promote positive body image and break down outdated perceptions of gender appropriateness of particular academic subjects.

Develop a free, comprehensive unconscious bias training toolkit and make the provision of unconscious bias training to all members of staff a condition of the receipt of public funds.

Include women’s history and women role models as part of the statutory curriculum.
Address barriers to, and encourage representation of, women and girls in STEM and other male-dominated subjects. Require schools to introduce gender-neutral uniform policies and breakdown outdated perceptions of gender appropriateness of certain subjects
Restore funding for adult education, Further Education, English as a Second Language, Higher Education, recognising the disproportionate impact these cuts have had on women Introduce new Skills Wallets for every adult in England, giving them £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives:

· The government will put in £4,000 at age 25, £3,000 at age 40 and £3,000 at age 55. Individuals, their employers and local government will be able to make additional payments into the wallets. – Individuals can choose how and when to spend this money on a range of approved education and training courses from providers who are regulated and monitored by the Office for Students.

· Individuals will have access to free careers guidance to help them to decide how to spend the money in their Skills Wallets. Government will work with industry to identify skills needs and to evaluate and certify courses.

Expand the apprenticeship levy into a wider ‘Skills and Training Levy’ to help prepare the UK’s workforce for the economic challenges ahead with 25 per cent of the funds raised by the levy going into a ‘Social Mobility Fund’ targeted at areas with the greatest skill needs.

Develop National Colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, such as renewable energy, to deliver the high-level vocational skills that businesses need.

Robust defence of the human right to freedom of speech in academia.
Take action to end sexualised violence against girls and women in education, and train teachers to tackle VAWG in schools, colleges and universities. Tackle bullying in schools, including bullying on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression, by promoting pastoral leadership in schools and delivering high-quality sex and relationships education

Other proposals not covered by WPUK manifesto

  • Require inclusive school uniform policies that are gender-neutral and flexible enough to suit different budgets, and provide training for school staff on how to review and improve their uniform policies.
  • Require schools to introduce gender-neutral uniform policies and breakdown outdated perceptions of gender appropriateness of certain subjects

WPUK Comment

Whilst agreeing that students should not be limited by sex in which items of school uniform they should wear, we believe that students, families and carers should be consulted in any changes to a school’s uniform policy and the wishes  and needs of all students must be taken into account.

  • Develop a free, comprehensive unconscious bias training toolkit and make the provision of unconscious bias training to all members of staff a condition of the receipt of public funds.

WPUK Comment

We welcome the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to tackling unconscious bias and to developing a plan to plan to address BAME inequalities. We are also pleased to see a commitment to challenging gender stereotyping in schools.

We believe, however, that a policy that tells children who don’t conform to gender stereotypes that they can identify as the opposite sex runs completely contrary to the commitment to challenging gender stereotyping. We also feel that allowing boys who identify as girls to take part in girls’ sporting activities will act as a deterrent to girls taking part in sport. Furthermore, allowing boys who identify as girls to use girls’ toilets and changing rooms undermines girls’ right to privacy and could be distressing to many girls, particularly those with religious objections to mixed-sex changing areas.

Law and criminal justice system

Woman’s Place UK manifesto demands Liberal Democrat manifesto promises
As a minimum, protect the human rights and laws we currently enjoy as European citizens. Defend the Human Rights Act, resist any attempt to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and oppose any laws that unnecessarily erode civil liberties.
Strengthen the Equality Act by restoring the statutory questionnaire; the duty to protect from third party harassment; and the power of tribunals to make wider recommendations. Enact Section 1 to compel action to reduce socio-economic disadvantage.  
Enforce Public Sector Equality Duty and Equality Act, including duty on government and local authorities to carry out equality impact assessments of all new legislation.
Properly resource the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to ensure effective oversight and enforcement of the Equality Act by including clear guidance on the existing legal protections for single-sex services and a commitment to strengthening them where necessary. Develop a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities and review the funding of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure that it is adequate

 

Enshrine UN Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) into UK law.
Defend women’s bodily autonomy and decriminalise abortion across the UK, including Northern Ireland. Decriminalise abortion across the UK while retaining the existing 24-week limit and legislate for access to abortion facilities within Northern Ireland.
Remove barriers to the employment tribunal system including extending time limit and increasing awards. Shift the burden of proof in employment tribunals regarding employment 25 status from individual to employer.
Better treatment by police and criminal justice system of women survivors of male violence and harassment as well as improved access to justice.
Overhaul aggressive immigration laws and end the hostile environment policy. Stop Brexit and save EU freedom of movement.

Scrap the Conservatives’ hostile environment.

Invest in officers, training and technology to prevent illegal entry at Britain’s borders, assist seekers of sanctuary and combat human trafficking and the smuggling of people, weapons, drugs and wildlife.

Make immigration detention an absolute last resort, introduce a 28-day time limit on detention and close seven of the UK’s nine detention centres.

Establish a firewall to prevent public agencies from sharing personal information with the Home Office for the purposes of immigration enforcement and repeal the immigration exemption in the Data Protection Act.

Move policymaking on work permits and student visas out of the Home Office and into the Departments for Business and Education respectively, and establish a new arms-length, non-political agency to take over processing applications.

Replace Tier 2 work visas with a more flexible merit-based system.

Introduce a ‘Training up Britain’ programme to make the most of migrants’ skills.

Create a new two-year visa for students to work after graduation.

Reduce the fee for registering a child as a British citizen from £1,012 to the cost of administration.

Abolish the arbitrary, complex minimum income requirement for spouse and partner visas.

Waive application fees for indefinite leave for members of the Armed Forces on discharge and their families.

Enable people who came here as children to apply for resident status.

Ensure equal access to the social security and criminal justice system for all women who have experienced domestic abuse, including migrant women, regardless of their immigration status.
End the practice by the criminal justice system of allowing offenders to self-identify their sex – particularly in relation to violent and sexual offences. Complete reform of the Gender Recognition Act to remove the requirement for medical reports, scrap the fee and recognise non-binary gender identities.
Better support and protection for women prisoners, including pregnant women and women with mental health issues. Establish a Women’s Justice Board and provide specialist training for all staff in contact with women in the criminal justice system.

Improve mental health support and treatment within the criminal justice system and ensure continuity of mental health care and addiction treatment in prison and the community.

Implement the recommendations of the Corston and Angiolini reports and reduce the imprisonment of women.
Effective resourcing and implementation of community-based sentencing for women offenders. Where women are housed in the prison estate, accommodation must be single-sex to protect their privacy, safety and dignity.
End the detention of children and pregnant asylum seekers. Make immigration detention an absolute last resort, introduce a 28-day time limit on detention and close seven of the UK’s nine detention centres.
Provide adequate levels of legal aid for criminal cases, restore civil legal aid as well as aid for all immigration and asylum cases. Establish a new right to affordable, reasonable legal assistance, and invest £500 million to restore Legal Aid, making the system simpler and more generous.

 

Representation and participation in public life/media/culture/politics/sport
Woman’s Place UK manifesto demands Liberal Democrat manifesto promises
Increase representation of women (especially black and minority ethnic, working class, disabled, older, younger and lesbian women) in all walks of public life, including political activities and the labour movement. Develop a free, comprehensive unconscious bias training toolkit and make the provision of unconscious bias training to all members of staff a condition of the receipt of public funds. Develop a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities and review the Equality and Human Rights Commission to determine whether its funding is adequate. Establish a national fund for projects that work in schools to raise the aspirations of ethnic minority children and young people.
Defend the use of sex-based mechanisms such as all-women shortlists.
Reinstate UK Women’s National Commission to ensure women’s voices are heard in public debate and policy making.
Government inquiry into media reporting of VAWG.
Action to end sexist, demeaning, objectifying, stereotypical images of women and girls throughout society and in particular in media, arts, advertising and the political sphere. Challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation, working with schools to promote positive body image and break down outdated perceptions of gender appropriateness of particular academic subjects.

 

Proactively encourage women to participate in sports, leisure and the arts. Women’s and girls’ sport should be funded to the same level as men’s and boys’ from school to elite sports.
Support for sex-segregated sports, promoting a level playing field for competitions and encouraging and recognising the excellence of female competitors.
Women should be supported to pursue their right to freedom of association, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

 

Other Proposals

  • Pursue a foreign agenda with gender equality at its heart, focusing on: the transformation of the position of women through economic inclusion, education and training; ensuring the lives of women and girls are not ignored in favour of trade or regional alliances; working to extend reproductive rights and end female genital mutilation; and ending sexual violence in conflict zones.

22nd November 2019

Our analysis of other party manifestos

 

Labour manifesto

 

 

Conservatives

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