Vince Cable: Making higher apprenticeships the norm rather than a niche

Posted April 23, 2014

Today, Vince Cable gave the Cambridge Public Policy Lecture, exploring how further and higher education can be brought closer together to create a “parity of esteem” between the sectors.


Vince Cable called for a new generation of National Colleges to fill the high-level vocational skills gap.

“I want to set out a vision for a new generation of National Colleges: specialised institutions, acting as national centres of expertise in key areas of the economy. They will be employer-focused, and combine academic knowledge with practical application.”

Vince also called for greater take up of existing high-level vocational training provisions.

“Higher apprenticeships are an important solution to the sub-degree gap, and there are already some superb schemes, for which entry is as competitive as getting into Cambridge. Rolls Royce higher apprenticeships in engineering, for instance, take nearly four years and include degrees from the University of Warwick and Apprentices at Jaguar Land Rover can expect to be earning around £32,000 by the time they finish their course.”

In his lecture, Vince Cable spoke about the advantages of apprenticeships for both employers and individuals, highlighting that it is essential to make higher apprenticeships the norm rather than a niche. He also announced that he has called on UCAS to examine the scope for integrating higher-level apprenticeships in their services.

“If we are to have credible, high-level vocational programmes – which are a legitimate and equally prestigious alternative to the traditional undergraduate route – older school leavers should be able to consider them alongside university options.”

Read more about how the Lib Dems have helped to create 1.6 million apprenticeships.

Nick Clegg: We need to sweep away Edwardian rules

Posted April 23, 2014

Today, Nick Clegg spoke at the launch of the Cityfathers, a new forum for working fathers, on the need for radical change to create equal opportunities in our parental leave system.

Nick commented on the importance of change in modern society, where we now have the highest female employment rate on record. More parents choose to both earn and share childcare responsibility, but there is still an assumption that it is the father who works and the mother who cares for the children.

“But what about those households where the woman is the main earner? Or the families where a working father just wants to spend more time with his children, or both parents want to do their bit at home without sacrificing their careers?

In many ways, the system still treats these families as the exception not the norm.”


The Liberal Democrats have made building a Britain that’s fit for modern families one of the biggest priorities in Government. From next year, partners will be entitled to remaining leave and pay if the mothers do not want to take their whole maternity leave. Parents will also be entitled to take off time together.

The Lib Dems have worked to increase access to affordable, high-quality childcare for families. From 2015, the Government is investing an extra £750 million in tax-free childcare, which is support worth up to £2,000 a year per child for millions of families. This is an addition to the offer of 15 hours a week of free early years’ education for every 3 and 4 year old.

During his speech, Nick Clegg spoke about the need for a family-friendly Britain:

“We need to tackle once and for all the hidden prejudices which still limit the choices of many men and women. And we need to create the same equal opportunities for both sexes to care as well as earn.

How do we do that?

Well, we’ve got to tear down those barriers which still prevent too many brilliant women from reaching the top of their professions. For example, despite progress in recent years, women still account for just 21% of board positions on FTSE 100 companies. And only four of those companies have a female CEO.”

Nick spoke about out-dated preconceptions about gender and career, and how he’d like to see more people make choices based on what’s right for them.

He closed his speech talking about how better attitudes towards flexible working can sharpen competitiveness:

“That’s the only way we’ll secure the best, most talented and diverse workforce for Britain’s success. Together we can ensure that, in the City and beyond, every British family – whatever their background or circumstances – gets an equal chance to thrive.”

To read the whole speech, click here.

Ed Davey writes… Massive boost for clean, green energy

Posted April 23, 2014

The following article was written by Edward Davey MP and was published today on the Liberal Democrat Voice Website.

2008 - Evopod 1/10th Sea Trials @ PortaferryToday I have announced the award of 8 new contracts for renewable electricity projects which will provide around £12 billion of private sector investment and once built will contribute around 4% of Britain’s electricity capacity.

These projects will support 8500 jobs and our overall electricity reform plans will generate over 200,000 green jobs. These projects and the jobs created will be across Britain – from the Moray Firth to Liverpool Bay and from Teesside to Norfolk.

Five of the projects are for offshore wind power generation – further reinforcing the UK’s No 1 position for offshore wind capacity and investment.

They will also contribute to our energy security and will further protect the UK from international jolts in the energy market. Most importantly these projects will decrease our carbon emissions so helping us to tackle climate change.

This is a massive vote of confidence by investors in Britain’s transition to a low carbon economy and in the coalition government’s electricity market reforms which give companies the long term certainty they need to invest. It is this confidence in the UK which has already led Siemens to commit to investing in two factories in Hull and which will lead to supply chain jobs created throughout the UK.

Today’s announcements alone represent well over a quarter of total UK infrastructure investment committed so far this year. Investment in energy infrastructure is almost 60% of  total UK planned infrastructure investment and is taking place throughout the UK. I have also published today a summary investment report.  This shows that we have secured record levels of investment since 2010 with £45 billion of private investment.

It gives the lie to the claims of our critics in Labour and on the Tory climate change denying right that our energy policies will not deliver the investment that is needed to tackle climate change and energy security.

So great was the interest in these contracts that several projects have been unsuccessful and will now need to seek Contracts for Difference through future allocation rounds.. That is also good news for consumers as the more interest there is in our Contracts for Difference the sooner we can expect auctions to drive down costs for consumers

When put alongside the two pathfinder Carbon Capture and Storage projects in Scotland and Yorkshire, the planned new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point and our ambitious energy efficiency strategy this shows that the Liberal Democrats in government are delivering the greenest government ever. That is good news for our climate, our economy and jobs. 

Edward Davey is Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and MP for Kingston and Surbiton

Vince Cable announces vehicles of the future get £130 million investment

Posted April 23, 2014

Vince Cable has announced £133 million of new investment into projects that will put Formula One technology into buses and diggers, developing the next generation of engines. These projects will provide both economic and environmental benefits.

Investment will go into the research and development into technologies for the vehicles of the future. This has the potential to secure up to 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and it will create many more in the supply chain. 

The winning projects include Ford, GKN, Cummins and JCB, which have all received funding for projects to improve fuel efficiently and reduce carbon emissions.


Vince Cable commented:

“Over the last few decades the British car industry has been transformed and today a new vehicle rolls off a UK production line every 20 seconds.

“To capitalise on the success of our motor industry these projects will be the first of many to receive funding from the new £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) which we set up to turn technologies into products. The Government’s industrial strategy is giving business the confidence to invest securing high skilled, long term jobs and a creating a stronger economy.”

Vince Cable warns business on ridiculous bonuses

Posted April 23, 2014

Vince Cable has issued a warning to Britain’s top companies that they need to crack down on bonuses in order to rebuild trust.

The Business Secretary has written to the FTSE 100 members to remind them about the damage that big pay awards can have on their public image. He said pay levels at banks had been “ridiculous”, which comes at a time when Barclays prepares to meet with it’s shareholders this Thursday. Barclays came under fire earlier this year when it put £2.5 billion into its bonus pot, despite its dip in profits.


Vince introduced rules last year intended to improve transparency in the boardrooms. These laws were made to ensure listed businesses gave shareholders a vote on directors’ pay in order to make a link between pay and performance. He has also said that tougher measures may be introduced unless their behaviour had improved.

In a BBC interview, Vince Cable said:

“A lot of trust has been lost, because of the extremes of what happened in 2010, when pay escalated massively unrelated to the performance of companies.

“This is an opportunity for these companies to make peace with the public.”

Vince Cable’s letter on pay follows a number of corporate reforms that he has announced recently, including a public register with which companies have to list their true owners.

“You will be conscious that this issue continues to be the focus of considerable public debate. Unless business is seen to act responsibly, pressure for further action will inevitably result,” Cable wrote. “Policies that reward executives out of proportion to the value they create are a clear dereliction of the duty to promote the success of the company for the long term,”

Government unveils eight major new renewables projects, supporting 8,500 green jobs

Posted April 23, 2014

Eight major renewable electricity projects are unveiled as part of the government’s world leading electricity reforms, giving a massive boost to green growth and green jobs.

By 2020, the projects will provide up to £12 billion of private sector investment, supporting 8,500 jobs, and they could add a further 4.5GW of low-carbon electricity to Britain’s energy mix (or around 4% of capacity), generating enough clean electricity to power over three million homes.

Once built, the successful projects will contribute around 15TWh or 14% of the renewable electricity we expect to come forward by 2020, helping to put the UK well on the way to meeting the UK’s renewable energy target. They will also reduce emissions by 10 MtCO2 per year compared to fossil fuel power generation.

The projects have been offered under Contracts for Difference (CfD), which form part of Government’s world leading Electricity Market Reform programme. They include offshore wind farms, coal to biomass conversions and a dedicated biomass plant with combined heat and power.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said:

“These contracts for major renewable electricity projects mark a new stage in Britain’s green energy investment boom.

“By themselves they will bring green jobs and growth across the UK, but they are a significant part of our efforts to give Britain cleaner and more secure energy.

“These are the first investments from our reforms to build the world’s first low carbon electricity market – reforms which will see competition and markets attract tens of billions of pounds of vital energy investment whilst reducing the costs of clean energy to consumers.

“Record levels of energy investment are at the forefront of the Government’s infrastructure programme and are filling the massive gap we inherited. It’s practical reforms like these that will keep the lights on and tackle climate change, by giving investors more certainty.”

There has been significant growth in renewable electricity sector with the renewables’ share of total electricity generation more than doubling since 2010. We are supporting this growth to continue through Electricity Market Reform and expect to deliver over 30% renewable electricity in 2020.

Today’s announcements, the first step in the new EMR Contracts for Difference regime, will make a significant contribution towards that ambition by, in 2020, delivering around 15TWh – that’s 5% of total electricity generation – from today’s 8 projects alone.

The eight successful projects have been awarded contracts under the Final Investment Decision (FID) Enabling for Renewables process, allocating the first CfDs that are being introduced through the Electricity Market Reform programme. Under CfDs, generators and developers receive a fixed strike price for the electricity they produce for 15 years.

These contracts are vital to give investors the confidence they need to pay the up-front costs of major new infrastructure projects.

The contracts are supported by the new legislative framework introduced through the Energy Act 2013. Further CfDs will be made available in the autumn and the Government intends to publish further details of the allocation process alongside the Government Response to the January Consultation on Competitive Allocation of CfDs shortly.

Together, the successful projects will help provide a secure, affordable supply of electricity and support skilled jobs, boosting growth, supply-chains and businesses across the country.


Final Investment Decision Enabling for Renewables

  • The Investment Contracts (or early Contracts for Difference) that have been awarded to projects today set out the contractual terms on which projects will benefit from financial support. They are based on the strike prices published on 4 December 2013.
  • The table below provides a summary, by technology, of the number and capacity of successful projects.

Successful Projects

Project Developer Technology Size (MW) Location
Beatrice Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited Offshore wind 664 Outer Moray Firth, Scotland
Burbo Bank extension Dong Energy Wind Power A/S Offshore wind 258 Liverpool Bay, at the entrance to the River Mersey
Drax Unit #1 Drax Biomass conversion 645 Selby, North Yorkshire
Dudgeon Dudgeon Offshore Wind Limited Offshore wind 402 The Wash north of Cromer, Norfolk
Hornsea 1 Dong Energy Wind Power A/S Offshore wind 1200 North Sea, off the Yorkshire coast
Lynemouth Lynemouth Power Limited Biomass conversion 420 Ashington, Northumberland
Teeside MGT Power Limited Dedicated biomass with combined heat and power 299 Middlesborough
Walney Extension Dong Energy Wind Power A/S Offshore wind 660 Irish Sea 19 km WSW off the Walney Island coast in Cumbria

Successful projects by technology

Technology Successful Projects MW
Biomass CHP 1 299
Biomass Conversions 2 1,065
Offshore wind 5 3,184
Total 8 4,548
  • The Final Investment Decision (FID) Enabling for Renewables process was launched in March 2013. There were two phases:
    • Phase 1: Qualification for participation and
    • Phase 2: Investment Contract allocation.
  • More renewable electricity projects applied to the process than we can afford. We originally received 57 applications. In December, sixteen projects were told that they had provisionally scored above the Phase 2 minimum threshold evaluation criteria. These projects received a draft Investment Contract for consideration and were invited to submit a binding application, confirming that they wished to receive a contract, by 25 March 2014.
  • In December, these sixteen projects were also told their provisional ranking against all projects and those of the same technology, and whether they were provisionally within the available budget based on this ranking. Ten projects were told that they were provisionally within the available budget.
  • Since then, two projects have withdrawn from the process, fourteen projects submitted binding applications for Investment Contracts.
  • DECC completed a review of binding applications and carried out a final affordability assessment. This confirmed the successful projects based on their final score and rank position.
  • We expect the investment contracts for the successful projects to be signed and laid in Parliament in May 2014, which is when they will take legal effect.

Renewable energy stats:

  • There has been significant growth in renewable electricity sector with the share of total electricity generation from renewables more than doubling since 2010, and reaching a record 17.6 % in the fourth quarter of 2013.
  • 4.2% of UK energy consumption (which is made up from electricity, heat and transport) came from renewable resources in 2012, up from 3.8% in 2011. This 2012 figure is greater than our first interim target of 4.0%. Across 2011 and 2012 the UK achieved an average of around 4.0% with a small shortfall against the precise target value being within the margin of error around the estimate.
  • That means the proportion of total UK energy from renewables has increased by a third under this Government, from 3.0% in 2009 to 4.2% in 2012.

Trading Standards save more than £280 million in damages at borders

Posted April 23, 2014

A report published yesterday estimates trading standards efforts to intercept unsafe consumer products at ports and borders saves the UK economy at least £281 million per year in costs of injuries, fatalities and fires.

The report concludes that an estimated 1.11 million unsafe goods were prevented from entering the consumer market.

The study was commissioned by the National Trading Standards board, which funds trading standards work at ports and borders, and produced by Matrix Knowledge.

‘Trading Standards provides a very important service at Ports and Borders,’ said Consumer Minister Jenny Willott. ‘First and foremost any product coming into the country needs to be safe for consumers.

However, we also need to crack down on those who try to bring in unsafe or illegal items to protect legitimate businesses trying to compete on a level playing field.’

Yestday’s results suggest that for every £1 invested in points of entry, net economic benefits range from £9 to £84 and the majority of border points included in the study returned a ratio of over £50 per pound invested.

The research focused on the borders identified previously as posing the greatest threat as a route for unsafe consumer products to enter the supply chain including airports, ports and postal hubs.

‘This research reinforces what we have known for some time, that money spent tackling the problem at the source of entry makes sound economic sense,’ said Lord Toby Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards which funds the Safety at Ports and Borders Team in England and Wales said. ‘At a time when public sector funding is under severe pressure the Safety at Ports and Borders work represents excellent value for taxpayer’s money. We are very grateful for the support of all the local authorities who have borders in their areas, including Suffolk, Southampton, Thurrock, Manchester and many others.

‘From exploding phone chargers to lethal chain saws, from harmful skin lightening cream to dangerous toys which pose a choking hazard for small children, trading standards officers prevent consumers from suffering serious harm on an almost daily basis via their intervention at borders,’ Lord Harris said.

Vehicles of the future get £130 million investment

Posted April 23, 2014

Projects that will put Formula 1 technology into buses and diggers are the first to receive money from £1 billion government-industry fund.

Projects that will put Formula 1 technology into buses and diggers, and develop the next generation of engines are the first to receive money from a joint £1 billion government-industry fund.

The Business Secretary Vince Cable will announce £133 million of new investment for the winning projects on a visit to Ford in Dunton, Essex today (23 April 2014).

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) will see government and industry each invest £500 million in the sector over the next 10 years to research, develop and commercialise technologies for the vehicles of the future.

This has the potential to secure up to 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain.

Consortia led by Ford, GKN, Cummins and JCB have all received funding for projects to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“The next generation of cars, buses and diggers will be powered by radically different technologies and I want them to be developed here in Britain.

“Over the last few decades the British car industry has been transformed and today a new vehicle rolls off a UK production line every 20 seconds.

“To capitalise on the success of our motor industry these projects will be the first of many to receive funding from the new £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) which we set up to turn technologies into products. The government’s industrial strategy is giving business the confidence to invest, securing high-skilled, long-term jobs and creating a stronger economy.”

The 4 winning projects are:

  • Ford and their partners will receive a £13.1 million grant for their £100 million programme to upgrade the award winning EcoBoost engine. This will accelerate the introduction of advanced low carbon technologies to deliver improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
  • GKN Land Systems and their partners will receive a £7.5 million grant as part of a £16 million project to apply Formula 1 technology from Williams for use in buses. The Gyrodrive system is designed to save the braking energy of a bus as it slows for a stop and use it to accelerate the bus back up to speed. By avoiding wasting the energy every time a bus stops the system delivers fuel savings of 25%.
  • Cummins and their partners will receive a £4.9 million grant for a £9.9 million project to deliver significant reductions in carbon emissions from bus engines through the development of new stop-start diesel engine technology. This will improve fuel consumption by 15-20%.
  • JCB and their partner Flybrid will receive a £3.3 million grant as part of a £7.3 million project to apply Formula 1 technology for use in diggers. This will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions resulting in a substantially reduced carbon footprint for construction projects using this machinery. On average, the carbon emissions of a single 20 tonne excavator will be reduced by an estimated 16 tonnes per year.

The Business Secretary also announced today (23 April 2014) that companies can shortly bid for a further £75 million from the APC with the launch of its second competition. The APC will now run bi-annual competitions which open in April and October each year.

Automotive Council co-chair Professor Richard Parry-Jones said:

“The APC is key in the UK’s automotive strategy and in turn the initiatives of the Automotive Council. The APC has already made great initial progress towards our goal of securing the UK’s position as a global leader in propulsion technology, moving us ever closer to the industrialisation of the technologies needed for the move to ultra-low emission vehicles.”

APC Chief Executive Tony Pixton said:

“The Advanced Propulsion Centre has moved from conception to becoming operational within a matter of months. We are committed to maintaining this momentum through future competitions and by building and supporting collaboration between APC partners.

“These projects will demonstrate the innovation and expertise that exists in the UK and through real world applications of advanced technology will provide both economic and environmental benefits.”

The competition was run for the APC by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board.

A report showcasing the progress that has been made in the UK’s industrial strategy has also been published today (23 April 2014).

Highlighting the success of the partnership that has been developed between industry and government, the progress report details the steps that are being taken to secure long-term growth for the UK.


The truth about Ukip’s immigration billboards

Posted April 22, 2014

Today Ukip have published billboards designed to scare people about the impact that being in Europe has on immigration.

The Liberal Democrats believe that it is right to tackle concerns about immigration, but spreading fear and bogus claims is not the answer.

Instead, we are working to deliver better immigration checks and more job opportunities. That’s why we have created 1.6 million apprenticeships, helping young people in Britain find work.

We believe it’s time to tell the truth about immigration.


Ed Davey: Energy Act will create 200,000 Green Jobs

Posted April 22, 2014

Today Ed Davey has published an article announcing that the Energy Bill that he has been driving through Parliament is now law. After Labour’s legacy of underinvestment in the energy sector, the Liberal Democrats have been working to increase green energy, whilst making sure that consumers are protected.


The article is as follows:

Creating the world’s first ever low carbon electricity market is a major achievement for the Liberal Democrats and the Coalition. And it has been delivered on time. 

So, what will the Energy Act deliver?

It will create 200,000 green jobs.

The framework we’ve now put in place will create 250,000 jobs in the energy sector by 2020 – and 200,000 of them in renewables. The investment that we’re unlocking will produce green jobs up and down the country in offshore and onshore wind, biomass, solar and other renewables.

It will keep the lights on.

The Coalition inherited a shocking Labour legacy of underinvestment in the energy sector and without prompt action, would have left the UK with a serious threat of the lights going out.

Around one-fifth of generating capacity is due to close over the next decade, including all but one of our nuclear power stations as well as almost all coal stations. To meet this energy gap, Liberal Democrats in Government have already secured more than £30 billion of investment in renewables and the Energy Act puts in place the framework to unlock a further £40 billion.

Make no mistake, under a Labour Government much of this would be brought to a grinding halt. If you don’t believe me then the Head of the OECD’s comments are worth considering. Angel Gurria said that under Labour’s price freeze plans, investors in energy will “probably go bankrupt.” Labour’s policy threatens the action we have taken to keep the lights on and to tackle climate change.

For the investment our policies are stimulating means Liberal Democrats are delivering on tackling climate change.

The Energy Act will ensure that by 2020, 10m homes in the UK are powered by green energy. As a result, CO2 emissions will plummet by 20m tonnes a year – the equivalent of annual emissions from 7m UK households, or 30% of our cars.

And our Energy Act will protect consumers.

Keeping bills down for consumers is also at the heart of the Act. Increasing the amount of home-grown green energy will ensure we don’t become increasingly reliant on importing gas – the key driver behind energy bill increases over the last few years. 

Liberal Democrats have also introduced measures to ensure the Big 6 energy firms that emerged under the last Labour Government are forced to provide much simpler bills and switch people to cheaper tariffs, and face stiffer competition in both retail and generating markets. And consumers will now be directly compensated if they have been hit by wrongdoing by energy suppliers.

Liberal Democrats should be proud that we’re increasing green energy, and with it creating thousands of green jobs. All while ensuring consumers are protected in the long-term and the Big 6 energy firms that Labour created at last feel the heat of competition.