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We will help you achieve dream of owning your own home

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will yesterday launched ambitious plans to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder.

Under the party’s plans, young people in Wales will be able to buy their own home without a deposit.

This revolutionary scheme is a fundamental shift in housing policy and will give young people caught in ‘generation rent’ a chance at home ownership.

First-time buyers will steadily build up a share in their home through monthly payments equivalent to rent until they own the property outright after 30 years, just like a normal mortgage.

The party will aim to deliver at least 2,500 rent to own homes over an Assembly term through the existing Social Housing Grant mechanism.

These are ambitious proposals to help people achieve their goal of owning their own home.

This is all about equal opportunity.  Under our proposals, it doesn’t matter what your background or family circumstance is, if you can afford your rent then we will help you own your home – something nearly everyone dreams of.

The fact is that home ownership has plummeted for the under 35’s. Prices have simply got too far out of reach for too many young families. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are putting forward solutions to help with this problem.

The Welsh Democrats will support people’s aspirations to own their own home.

Our aim to deliver 2,500 rent to own homes will be part of a wider package, including increasing affordable housing, that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will be putting forward in the Assembly elections.

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Scrapping of target must be about patient outcome, not political convenience

Yesterday, the Health Minister announced that he is to drop the targets for ambulance response times for all but the most urgent calls.

Of course, it is politically convenient for the Welsh Labour Government to scrap targets that they’ve been incapable of meeting, especially with an election just around the corner. They are the source of so much negative headlines for them. The 8 minute target for urgent ambulance response times has not been met in 20 months.

If the Health Minister is changing the target with a view to improve clinical outcomes, rather than avoiding bad headlines for the Welsh government, the Welsh Liberal Democrats will, of course, be supportive. The Welsh Liberal Democrats want what is best for the patient, not just a relentless focus on statistics.

However, I remain concerned that significant changes to the target will make it impossible to compare Wales’ NHS to the rest of the UK. While health is a devolved issue to the four nations of the UK, it has always been important to be able to assess how efficiently patients are treated in Wales compared to patients in England and Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Health Minister needs to ensure that will still be possible.

Whilst it is very important that the ambulances and paramedics we have are used to best effect I am concerned that in some areas we simply do not have enough crews and of course this statement does nothing to address the issue of lost ambulance hours when crews are caught at A&E departments and can’t discharge their patients.

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Welsh Lib Dem Paul Halliday calls for the resignation of the vice chancellor of USW

Welsh Liberal Democrat Paul Halliday has called for Julie Lydon, vice chancellor of the University of South Wales, to resign.

Commenting on the news that the University of South Wales’ London Centre is to shut down within a year of its launch, local campaigner Paul Halliday said:

“Julie Lydon is clearly not fit to be vice chancellor of USW and should resign with immediate affect. Under her leadership not only have we seen the Caerleon campus of the university being run down, ultimately to be sold off. We now see almost £1mill being wasted on a London campus vanity project.

“The comments I continue to get from Students, staff and community is that she has lost their trust and respect.

“As we continue to await a final ruling from the Information commissioner over details the university has refused to provide In relation to the closure of the Caerleon Campus, this is another example of the poor leadership provided by Julie Lydon to the university.

“For USW to stand any chance of progressing we need a new vice chancellor who can start afresh and heal the damage between the administration and the other stake holders.”

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More needs to be done on motorcycle safety as serious incidents reach 7 year high

Official figures show that the number of motorcyclists killed or injured on the roads in Wales has risen for the fourth year in a row and is at a seven-year high. The figures have revealed that 28 people died in 2014, up from 17 in 2013.

Powys had the joint highest number of casualties of all local authorities in Wales.

Motorcycle deaths made up 22% of those killed or seriously hurt in Wales.

I’m very disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, about the news that the number of motorcyclists killed or injured on roads in Wales has risen for the fourth year in a row and is at a seven-year high.

The issue of motorcycle accidents on roads in Brecon and Radnorshire is something I constantly raise with the Welsh Labour Government, most recently in Plenary on 7th July.

It is shocking and unacceptable that motorbikes account for just 1% of the traffic in Wales but 22% of those killed or seriously hurt. More needs to be done to help protect the safety of all motorists on our roads and I will continue to do all I can with regard to this issue.

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Tory u-turn on plans to cap care costs to have dire consequences for elderly in Wales

The Conservative UK Government’s decision to delay plans to cap lifetime care costs will have dire consequences for elderly people in Wales.

The cap on liability for care costs, to be set at £72,000 for those in England of state pension age or over, was scheduled by the Coalition Government to be introduced next April under the Care Act 2014. However the Conservatives immediately after the election dropped these plans and say the cap will instead be introduced in 2020.

The Welsh Government has accepted the need for ‘substantive reform’ in Wales, but will not do so until there is clarity over reform in England and any consequential funding that Wales may receive as a result.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently called for a lifetime cap to be introduced in Wales, as recommended by the Dilnot Commission in 2011.

I am appalled that, the moment the Liberal Democrats leave government, the Tories have kicked our plans to cap lifetime care costs into the long grass.

Liberal Democrats in government fought to reform the way social care is funded, to help ease the burden of long term care costs on the elderly, their families and carers.

With an ageing population in Wales, the need to secure a sustainable system for paying for care has never been more urgent. Yet the Welsh Labour Government has said it will sit back and wait for the reforms to first happen in England. This means that we will see no long term reform until post 2020, which will have dire consequences for many elderly people in Wales and their families.

The care cap was to be met largely by freezing the inheritance tax threshold at £325,000, which George Osborne has now announced he will raise to £500,000. It is no wonder that the care cap cannot be funded when the Tories are giving the wealthy a windfall tax break which the Lib Dems blocked in government.

We need a fair and sustainable system where people no longer live in fear of losing nearly everything they own to pay for care and it is time for the Welsh Labour Government to lay out a plan for Wales. Using the excuse of a lack of money doesn’t wash when the Welsh Government can still find millions of pounds to buy an airport on a whim.

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Farcical air link must be scrapped

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have restated their calls to scrap the Cardiff-Anglesey air link following another report criticizing the service.

The Welsh Assembly Public Accounts Committee report raises a number of concerns about the air link, including a discrepancy in passenger numbers between figures provided by the Welsh Government and the Civil Aviation Authority.

The report notes that “it is difficult to adequately assess the value-for-money of the air service” due to a lack of available information. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently called for the service to be scrapped and the money reinvested in other public transport services.

Today we see yet another report highlighting just how much of a farce the Anglesey air link is.

Labour Ministers have poured millions into subsidizing this wasteful and polluting service, with little to no gain for people in North Wales. Passenger numbers are 35% lower now than at their peak in 2008, yet money is still spent on this service instead of improving our woeful rail and bus networks.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have always been clear: we would scrap the £3,700-a-day subsidy of this pointless air link, and reinvest the money to improve bus and train services for the people of Wales.

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