Jenny Wilkinson

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Sutton Coldfield

Build a Fairer Economy

Britain deserves a better economy.

Too many people can’t get on and live a secure, happy and fulfilling life because our country’s economy has become dysfunctional and is driving inequalities.

Today’s economy – for all its successes – is not working for all people and puts us to shame. Too many cannot fulfil their potential and feel the economic benefits that come with that, and too few can access the upsides of the technological and other changes we have seen. So we need to change it.

According to the most widely recognised measure of UK poverty, as of July 2019 there are 14.3 million people living in poverty, including 4.6 million children. That is 22% of the UK population – unacceptably high for the fifth richest country in the world.  Shockingly, The Children's Society state that 21% of the children living in Sutton Coldfield are living in poverty.

The Liberal Democrats want to stop Brexit and deliver a more prosperous, equal, inclusive economy that protects our planet. We are the only party with a chance of getting into Government that is committed to stopping Brexit and tackling its causes. The Brexit vote is already harming the economy. According to the IFS, national income is already between 2.5% and 3% (£55–£66 billion) lower than it would have been without the EU referendum result. We can’t start fixing the economy without first stopping Brexit.

The Lib Dems’ plan for the future will tackle the causes of Brexit:

  • Investing in Britain’s future: A long-term stable economy requires more than just discipline over spending. It requires us to invest in people, innovation and infrastructure in order to give our economy the opportunity to remain competitive for the future. The Conservatives have failed to take advantage of historically low interest rates to borrow for the investment our country needs. We commit to a responsible and realistic £100 billion package, prioritising:
    1. Building 300,000 homes a year;
    2. Capital investment in schools and hospitals to support capacity increases and modernisation; and,
    3. £5 billion of initial capital for a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank, using public money to attract private investment for these priorities.
  • Supporting regional growth:
    1. We will use public sector procurement and infrastructure investment to leverage private sector investment. This involves examining the government’s current £270bn a year procurement budget to ensure a more decentralised and devolved approach benefits regional economies.
    2. We will increase regional investment in digital and physical infrastructure as an important economic stimulus; more of this will be directed to the regions.
    3. Achieving dynamic local economies, with vibrant productive cities economically connected with industrial and rural hinterlands, requires improvements to transport. This is why we have committed to the electrification of the rail network, improving stations, reopening smaller ones, restoring twin-track lines to major routes and proceeding with HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2. We will also develop a high-speed network stretching to Scotland.
    4. We will expand the British Business Bank to perform a more central role in the economy, with a remit to help rebalance the UK economy geographically, tackling the shortage of equity capital for start-up and growing firms and providing long-term capital for medium-sized businesses.
  • Supporting innovative businesses and developing new technologies:

    A thriving 21st century economy will rely on innovation as well as effective investment in new technologies. We will pursue year on year real increases in public funding on R&D for the next 10 years so the nation achieves our 3.4% GDP goal. And we will create a new ‘start-up allowance’ to help those starting a new business with their living costs in the crucial first weeks of their business. The allowance will let small businesses claim £2,600, or £100 a week, and will be paid by reversing George Osborne’s cut on corporation tax from 20% to 17% (effective in 2020).