Sir Ed Davey accuses the Tories of “crashing the economy” as he launches the Lib Dem local elections campaign.
The Lib Dems have accused the Conservatives of making the cost-of-living crisis worse, as the party launched its local elections campaign.
Leader Sir Ed Davey said the Tory government had “crashed the economy” and added hundreds of pounds to people’s monthly mortgage payments.
He said May’s polls were the last chance to send a message to the government before a general election.
On 4 May, 230 councils across England will hold elections.
Sir Ed launched his party’s campaign by driving a yellow tractor through a “blue wall” of hay bales in the former Conservative heartland of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, before giving a speech to councillors and party members.
“We’re going to need some heavy machinery to clear up the mess of the Conservatives,” he joked, after arriving in the tractor.
He told the crowd that with energy, food and housing costs “going through the roof”, millions of families and pensioners were “struggling like never before”.
“But the Conservative government is letting people down badly. They’re taking people for granted,” he said.
He added that the Conservatives had “made the cost-of-living crisis so much worse with their total chaos”, with “unfair tax rises and cuts to essential public services, paying for the damage that they caused in the first place”.
Sir Ed also accused the government of “letting the NHS crisis spiral out of control”, by failing to deliver promised new hospitals and recruit enough doctors, as well as cutting GP numbers.
Earlier, the Lib Dems called for 8,000 new GPs to be recruited over four years to save “on-the-brink” local health services.
Analysis by the party has found there are now 500 fewer open and active GP surgeries than in 2019.
Recruiting extra GPs would reduce pressure on A&E and ambulance services from patients struggling to be seen by a doctor, the Lib Dems said.
The Lib Dems are also calling for energy bills to be cut by an average of £400 this year and a ban on water companies dumping raw sewage.
At last May’s local elections, the Lib Dems won 224 news council seats – more than any other party.
The Lib Dems will be targeting both Labour and Conservative-held seats at this year’s election, Mr Davey said.