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    Liberal Democrats pledge reforms in employment, high streets

    A journalist holds a copy of the Liberal Democrats' manifesto at its launch on June 10, 2024 in London, England. The Liberal Democrats will campaign for closer ties with the EU and put social care and health at the centre of its manifesto for the General Election on July 4th. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

    The Liberal Democrats on Monday (10) published their manifesto ahead of the 2024 General Election, pledging to make sweeping changes to employment regulations and rights as part of their campaign to form the next Government.

    The 117 page document sets out broad commitments in a wide range of areas relevant to local shops, including employment, communities, crime and public health. The manifesto also pledges to make significant changes to the political landscape in the UK by scrapping the first past the post (FTTP) system of deciding elections and introducing proportional representation by single transferrable vote (STV). 

    Key policies announced in the manifesto that are relevant to the convenience sector include:

    Employment

    • Establishing an independent review to recommend a genuine living wage across all sectors, with government departments and all public sector employers taking a leading role in paying it​ 
    • Double Statutory Maternity and Shared Parental Pay to £350 per week and increase pay for paternity leave to 90 per cent of earnings.  
    • Make statutory sick pay available to more than one million workers earning less than £123 a week, aligning with the rate of the National Minimum Wage and available from the first day of missing work.  

    Public Health

    • Introducing regulations to halt the use of vapes by children while recognising their role in smoking cessation for adults, and banning the sale of single-use vapes.
    • Introducing a new levy on tobacco company profits to help fund healthcare and smoking cessation services. 
    • Extending the soft drinks levy to juice-based and milk-based drinks that are high in added sugar.

    High Streets

    • Replacing the Business Rates System with a Commercial Landowner Levy to reduce the financial burden on high street business and encourage investment in local retail areas.  
    • Introduce a national financial inclusion strategy to protect access to cash in remote areas and expand banking hubs.  
    • Ensure that gigabit broadband is available to every home and business, including in rural and remote communities, and support local bespoke solutions so that no property is left out.

    Other Announcements

    • Introducing a deposit return scheme for food and drink bottles and containers, working with the devolved administrations to ensure consistency across the UK, learning the lessons from the difficulties with the Scottish scheme. 
    • Scrapping Police and Crime Commissioners and replacing them with local Police Boards made up of councillors and representatives from relevant local groups. 
    • Requiring all EV charging points to be accessible with a bank card.

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