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Lib Dem manifesto summary: Key points at-a-glance

The Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto, Change Britain’s Future. The full document is available online. Here are the main things you need to know.

Key message

A programme providing voters with an “opportunity to change Britain’s future – by changing the opposition” – a choice between “the extreme and divisive Brexit that Theresa May has chosen for Britain” and a Labour Party “that has given up on opposition”.

Tim Farron’s foreword says: “I want the Liberal Democrats to be the party that holds Theresa May to account over spending on the National Health Service; our young people’s education, skills and opportunities; the protection of our precious environment; and our future relationship with Europe.”

Key policies

  • Second EU referendum on Brexit deal
  • 1p in the pound on income tax to raise £6bn for NHS and social care services
  • End the 1% public sector pay cap
  • Invest nearly £7bn extra in education
  • Ban the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025
  • Scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools
  • End imprisonment for possession of illegal drugs for personal use
  • Reinstate university maintenance grants for the poorest students
  • Job-sharing arrangements for MPs
  • Increase maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and a ban on caged hens
  • Extend free childcare to all two-year-olds and introduce an additional month’s paid paternity leave for dads
  • Reverse cuts to work allowances in universal credit and housing benefit for 18-21 year olds
  • Levy up to 200% council tax on second homes
  • Take over the running of Southern Rail and Govia Thameslink
  • £300m for community policing in England and Wales


  • Second referendum on Brexit deal
  • Press for the UK to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK
  • Urge same rights for UK citizens living in European Union countries
  • Membership of the single market and customs union
  • Protect freedom of movement and EU schemes which increase opportunities for young people
  • Defend social rights such as maternity leave
  • Maintain EU environmental standards and cooperation for law enforcement and justice
  • Retain City of London’s rights in EU financial markets
  • Campaign against any reduction in investment in UK universities
  • Retain European Health Insurance Card, reduced roaming charges and pet passports
  • Protect the rights of the people of Gibraltar.

Health and social care

  • 1p in the pound on income tax to raise £6bn for NHS and social care services
  • Transform mental health care and waiting times
  • Limit the amount elderly people have to pay for social care
  • Guarantee the rights of all NHS and social care service staff who are EU nationals to stay in the UK
  • End the public sector pay freeze for NHS workers
  • Reinstate student nurse bursaries
  • Protect NHS whistle-blowers
  • Produce a national workforce strategy to prevent shortage of GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and other NHS staff
  • Increase access to mental health talking therapies
  • Examine the case for introducing a dedicated service for children and young people based on the Australian ‘headspace’ model
  • Early mental health support for pregnant women, new mothers and those who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Fast-track exceptional graduates into children’s social work and encourage high-achieving graduates to pursue a career in mental health social work
  • Tackle stigma against mental ill-health
  • Ensure that LGBT+ inclusive mental health services receive funding and support
  • Raise the amount people earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £110 to £150 a week
  • Promote easier access to GPs and prevent practice closures
  • HIV prevention available on the NHS
  • Tackle childhood obesity
  • Develop a just settlement for haemophiliacs who were given contaminated blood.


  • Invest nearly £7bn extra in education
  • Triple the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000
  • Oppose new selective schools and give local authorities control over admissions and new schools
  • Raise the quality of early years provision
  • End the 1% cap on teachers’ pay rises
  • Guarantee all state school teachers are fully qualified or working towards qualified teacher status from January 2019
  • Introduce a professional development entitlement of 25 hours per year for all teachers, rising to 50 hours by 2025
  • Tackle unnecessary teacher workloads
  • Reforming Ofsted inspections
  • Scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools
  • Ensure that identification and support for special educational needs and disabilities takes place as early as possible
  • Protect the availability of arts and creative subjects in the curriculum
  • Improve the quality of vocational education, including skills for entrepreneurship and self-employment, and improve careers advice and links with employers
  • Challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation
  • Reinstate university maintenance grants for the poorest students
  • Double the number of businesses that hire apprentices.

The economy

  • £100bn package of additional infrastructure investment
  • Boost the economy with a major programme of capital investment
  • Eliminate the deficit on day-to-day spending by 2020 to control the national debt, and then borrowing only to invest
  • Install hyperfast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK
  • Additional funding to bring more private investment into renewable energy
  • Raise employee national insurance threshold to the income tax threshold, while protecting low earners’ ability to accrue pension and benefit entitlements
  • Ensure those with the highest incomes and wealth are making a fair contribution
  • Reverse cuts to corporation tax from 20% to 17%, capital gains tax, marriage allowance
  • Raise inheritance tax threshold
  • Action on corporate tax evasion and avoidance
  • Reforming corporation tax to develop a system that benefits the smallest
  • Expand the activities of the state-owned British Business Bank
  • Create a new ‘start-up allowance’ for new businesses
  • Review business rates
  • Protect the science budget, including the recent £2bn increase, by raising it at least in line with inflation
  • Stamp out abuse of zero-hours contracts
  • Encourage employers to promote employee ownership
  • Champion the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine initiatives
  • 40% of board members being women in FTSE 350 companies.


  • Build 300,000 homes a year by 2022, including half a million affordable and energy-efficient homes
  • £5bn of initial capital for a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank
  • Green Buildings Act to ensure every home in England reaches at least an energy rating of Band C by 2035
  • Ensure at least four million homes are made highly energy efficient (Band C) by 2022, with priority given to fuel-poor households
  • Restore the zero-carbon standard for new homes
  • Create at least 10 new garden cities in England
  • End the voluntary right to buy pilots that sell off housing association homes and the associated high value asset levy
  • Enable local authorities to levy up to 200% council tax on second homes and ‘buy to leave empty’ investments from overseas
  • Enforce housebuilding on unwanted public sector land
  • Penalise excessive land-banking when builders with planning permission have failed to build after three years.


  • Investment in road and rail infrastructure, continued commitment to HS2, Crossrail 2 and rail electrification
  • Take over the running of Southern Rail and Govia Thameslink
  • Invest capital in major transport improvements and infrastructure
  • Oppose expansion of Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick and any new airport in the Thames Estuary – instead focus on improving existing regional airports such as Birmingham and Manchester.

Energy and environment

  • Ensure that four million properties receive insulation retrofits by 2022, prioritising fuel-poor households
  • Prevent 40,000 deaths a year with Air Quality Plan to reduce air pollution
  • Ensure British farming remains competitive
  • A diesel scrappage scheme, and a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025
  • Extend ultra-low-emission zones to 10 more towns and cities
  • Run all private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas on ultra-low-emission or zero-emission fuels within five years
  • Pass a Zero-Carbon Britain Act to set targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and to zero by 2050
  • Aim to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030
  • Support investment in energy storage, smart grid technology, hydrogen technologies, offshore wind, and tidal power
  • Oppose ‘fracking’
  • Establish a £2bn flood-prevention fund
  • Increase the amount of accessible green space
  • Suspend the use of neonicotinoids until proven that their use in agriculture does not harm bees or other pollinators
  • Increase maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and a ban on caged hens
  • Clamp down on illegal pet imports
  • Reform agricultural subsidies
  • Pass a Zero-Waste Act
  • £2bn to ensure the provision of high-speed broadband across the rural UK
  • £2bn Rural Services Fund to co-locate council offices, post offices, children’s centres, libraries and visiting healthcare professionals.

Families and communities

  • Extend free childcare to all two-year-olds and to the children of working families from the end of paid parental leave
  • An additional month’s paid paternity leave
  • Introduce a new Young Person’s Bus Discount Card for 16-21 year olds, giving a two-thirds discount on bus travel
  • 30 hours’ free childcare a week for all parents in England with children aged from two to four years
  • Take 13,000 children out of poverty by letting both parents earn before their Universal Credit is cut
  • Reverse cuts to work allowances in universal credit and housing benefit for 18-21 year olds – increase jobseeker’s allowance and universal credit for 18-24
  • Uprate working-age benefits at least in line with inflation
  • Abandon the two-child policy on family benefits and abolish the ‘rape clause’
  • Reverse cuts to employment support allowance to those in the work-related activity group
  • Increase local housing allowance (LHA) in line with average rents in an area
  • Scrap the ‘bedroom tax’ and the work capability assessment
  • Maintain the ‘triple lock’ of increasing the state pension each year.

Drugs policy and policing

  • Bring in a legal, regulated market for cannabis
  • Introduce limits on potency and permit cannabis to be sold through licensed to over-18s
  • End imprisonment for possession of illegal drugs for personal use
  • Reducing the proliferation of betting shops and cap maximum bets on fixed odds betting terminals at one time to £2
  • £300m for community policing in England and Wales
  • Require all front-line officers to wear body cameras on duty
  • Replace police and Crime commissioners with police boards made up of local councillors.


  • Vote against attempts to scrap the Human Rights Act or withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Offer safe and legal routes to the UK for refugees – offering sanctuary to 50,000 Syrian refugees over five years
  • Reopen the Dubs scheme to take 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from Europe.

Foreign policy/Defence

  • Spend 2% of GDP on defence
  • Spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid
  • Suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia
  • Recruit STEM graduates to be armed forces engineers, providing ‘golden handshakes’ of up to £10,000
  • Work to lead international nuclear disarmament efforts
  • Provide free further or higher education for anyone who has served in the armed forces for 12 years or more.


  • Votes for 16-year-olds
  • Introduce the single transferable vote for local government elections in England and for electing MPs across the UK
  • Reform the House of Lords with a proper democratic mandate
  • Cap donations to political parties at £10,000 per person each year
  • Mandate the provision of televised leaders’ debates in general elections and allow for the empty-chairing of party leaders who refuse to attend
  • Prohibit MPs from accepting paid lobbying work
  • Trial weekend voting to help raise turnouts in elections
  • Allow for all-BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) and all-LGBT+ parliamentary shortlists
  • Make parliament more family friendly with job-sharing arrangements for MPs
  • Devolve more powers to Wales and secure political stability in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Pre-launch interview

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Lib Dem leader Tim Farron tells the BBC his party is the only one offering people hope “that Britain’s future could be brighter”.

“At the heart of our manifesto is an offer to all of the people in our country that no other party is making, and that’s that you don’t have to accept whatever deal we get back from the Brexit negotiations,” he said.

“The British people – ‘you’ – should have the final say, and if you don’t like what Theresa May comes back with, you should have the right to vote to remain [in the EU].”


By political correspondent Tom Symonds

The Lib Dems have shunned the political option that gave them power in 2010 – the possibility of a coalition deal. But they have a new purpose, according to their leader. A second referendum.

Tim Farron, who was confronted by an angry pro-Brexit critic in Kidlington last week, knows he has to accept the result of the vote to leave, but backing a second ballot gives his party’s offer of a home to remainers some meaning.

He hopes that when the stark details of the future Brexit deal emerge, leavers will feel less like leaving. A vote on the deal would become another vote on whether we should leave at all.

Other than that, the party’s manifesto shadows Labour’s thesis, that voters want to see Conservative tax and spending cuts reversed. But it is the straightforward offer of a referendum which makes it different.

What the other parties say:

Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin: “This manifesto makes one thing abundantly clear: a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street. From increasing taxes to borrowing more, from putting our security at risk to scrapping Trident, these policies are an echo of Corbyn’s manifesto we saw earlier this week.”

Green party co-leader Jonathan Bartley: “The Lib Dems are trying to repair their broken relationship with young people but these pledges will never be enough to win back the young voters they betrayed in coalition with the Tories. While the Green Party shares some similar policies, such as votes at 16, banning fracking and taking in more refugees, how can we trust the Lib Dems to actually implement them?”

Other reaction:

Paul Johnson, Institute of Fiscal Studies: “Rather like the Labour Party, the Lib Dems want to have a big increase in investment spending – whereas Labour was talking about £250bn, the Liberal Democrats are talking about £100bn, I think over five years, although that’s not wholly clear. But secondly, they’re talking about increasing spending more than they’re going to increase taxes. That’s an interesting difference from what Labour was trying to do.”

Political scientist Prof John Curtice, University of Strathclyde: “The 2015 election was a disaster for the party – they only managed to get eight seats, 8% of the vote… The problem for the party seems to be that so far it’s not clear that it’s going to do much better this time. Usually during election campaigns, Lib Dems often begin to take off in the polls, not least because they start to get publicity that they otherwise lack. So far in this election, Liberal Democrats seemed to start off at 10-11% and now they seem to be back to the 8% that they had in 2015.”

CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn: “The Liberal Democrat Party rightly places planning for the economy of the future at the heart of its manifesto, with a clear focus on spurring innovation and entrepreneurship, and on delivering a world-class education for our children to equip them with the skills to succeed… However, as we chart a new course in our relationship with Europe, it’s all the more important that the United Kingdom remains a highly attractive country in which to invest and create jobs. Reversing cuts to corporation tax and not getting behind Heathrow’s expansion will limit the country’s ability to remain internationally competitive.”

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry: “The pharmaceutical industry welcomes the Liberal Democrats’ focus on investing in science and innovation to grow the UK economy and deliver prosperity… So while the additional £6bn a year for the NHS is an important commitment that is welcome by industry, we are concerned that the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto plans for healthcare fail to tackle the trend of poor patient access to the latest medical innovations in the UK.”

Institute of Economic Affairs director general Mark Littlewood: “The Liberal Democrats would increase current (day-to-day) spending by £30bn, nearly £20bn less than the Labour Party. What’s more, rather than pay for all of this straight away, the cost would be divided between £16bn of tax rises and £14bn in borrowing. This does at least reduce the immediate hit on the economy from higher taxes and might even provide a small fiscal boost, but only by delaying the pain.”

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