“This report shows that a whole section of society are being failed by this government and remain permanently trapped in low-paid work.
“This is only being made worse by the Conservatives’ pursuit of an extreme Brexit that is damaging businesses, pushing up prices and hitting the poorest hardest.
“We urgently need to invest more in education, including adult learning, to improve social mobility and help people escape from poverty.
“Employment rules must be made fit for the 21st century, to strengthen rights and increase security for workers.”
Meanwhile, prices in the shops increased by 3.3% compared to last year, the largest annual rise since March 2012.
Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:
“This fall in retail sales shows shoppers across Britain are feeling the Brexit squeeze.
“A toxic combination of rising prices and stagnant wages is severely constraining household spending.
“Year on year retail growth is also looking weak compared to previous years.
“Given the UK’s unhealthy over-reliance on consumer spending, the government must clarify where future economic growth is going to come from.”
“Labour’s Brexit blank cheque was cashed in by Theresa May six months ago, after Labour MPs were ordered to vote through Article 50 with no conditions.
“Today is a chance for Labour to announce to EU leaders they will now fight to stay in the single market and customs union, and support a referendum on the deal.
The Liberal Democrats have accused the government of treating parliament with contempt by ordering their MPs to abstain at the end of the Universal Credit debate, and have now called on ministers to listen after their defeat.
Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson Stephen Lloyd MP said:
This morning, Theresa May has penned an open letter on her Facebook page on EU Citizens Rights. Unfortunately, the message is a huge disappointment.
It is a message full of empty words. People’s lives must never be bargaining chips.
I feel so strongly about this, that I’ve replied directly to her open letter on Facebook – and if you agree with my message, I need you to add your voice to mine. Will you like and reply to my comment? You can do that here:
The festival of lights is upon us once again; across the country streets will be aglow with lights and decorations as thousands of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists gather to celebrate the ancient festival of Diwali.
Celebrations such as these speak to our shared human experience, causing us to see beyond that which too often divides us. There is a universal capacity to resist evil, hate and ignorance, this is particularly significant given the intolerance and division we continue to witness across many parts of the country. Let us all use this time to reignite the lamp of kindness and compassion within ourselves.
The current consensus amongst leading commentators is for extreme outcomes from the Brexit negotiations: either we crash out with no deal, or we remain in the EU. The possibility of a ‘soft’ Brexit appears to be receding.
The Prime Minister could have united the nation at the outset of her premiership. Instead she squandered her authority on pandering to the ideological EUphobes on the right of her party and an empty appeal to the ‘Just About Managing’. She has done little for the latter because she is in the pocket of the former. Proposing to leaving the Single Market and Customs Union may have helped keep her in Number 10 in the short term. However a ‘soft’ Brexit based on the existing off the shelf Norwegian model might have been more sustainable politically in the longer term.
Going to the dentist is something that many would want to avoid – but how about if you also faced a penalty fine? More than 40,000 people a year in England are getting fines of £100 – from an automated system that dentists say is hitting the most vulnerable.
They warn that people such as dementia sufferers are unfairly getting caught up in a system meant to stop fraudsters from getting free treatment. The NHS accepts there is a problem with errors and is promising changes. The fines, about £4m per year, are being applied by a random screening process that checks on whether people going to the dentist are really eligible for free treatment.
French scientists say they may have found a potential cause of dyslexia which could be treatable, hidden in tiny cells in the human eye. In a small study they found that most dyslexics had dominant round spots in both eyes – rather than in just one – leading to blurring and confusion.
UK experts said the research was “very exciting” and highlighted the link between vision and dyslexia. But they said not all dyslexics were likely to have the same problem. People with dyslexia have difficulties learning to read, spell or write despite normal intelligence. Often letters appear to move around and get in the wrong order and dyslexic people can have problems distinguishing left from right. Human beings have a dominant eye in the same way that people have a dominant left or right hand.