Many Liberal Democrat members, not only Social Liberal Forum members, are deeply concerned by the contents of the Chancellor’s speech yesterday, and in particular its commitment to cuts in welfare spending. While we take comfort from the confirmation by the Liberal Democrat leadership that none of this has been agreed, the forthcoming negotiations mean that they haven't been ruled out either. George Osborne’s plans amount to a significant attack on some of the most vulnerable people in Britain, and follow the rejection of a range of measures that would help the Coalition to deliver the deficit reduction to which it is committed without falling on the shoulders of the most vulnerable. Mindful of the assurances given by Nick Clegg not a fortnight ago, the Social Liberal Forum expects Liberal Democrats in Government to secure protection for the most vulnerable.  It is increasingly clear that a Conservative Party switching into campaign mode is abandoning the centre ground of Cameron Conservatism.  It remains to be seen whether they will keep their commitment to provide help for those who cannot work and to encourage fairness in the welfare system.  Meanwhile the SLF will continue to do all we can to ensure that the words ‘freedom from poverty’ quoted on the backs of our membership cards ring true in Government.

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