Manifesto-watch: Who’s saying what? Photo Credit: Paul Albertella

17 Apr 2015 | COMMENTS: 0 | Author: Ryan Smith | News

As the 2015 General Election draws ever-closer, the main parties have (mostly) taken the week off from attacking one another to launch their manifestos – the documents that outline what they pledge to do should they get into power this May.

In previous years, it might have been tempting to only pay attention to the Conservative and Labour manifestos, as one of them was almost certain to be implemented. This year, however, in the wake of 2010s’ hung parliament and the resulting coalition, it seems increasingly likely that one or more of the smaller parties will have a say in how our country is run. As this is the case, it’s important to know what all of the manifestos include, in the event of any “dealbreakers” that a smaller party will insist on being implemented if they are to support a coalition.

However, as most of the manifestos are around 80 pages – with the Lib Dem’s coming in at nearly double that! – we won’t all have the luxury of poring over each and every one – so here are the key points in some of the main areas, from the Conservative, Green, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP manifestos.

Economy

Conservatives

The Conservatives are committed to their long-term economic plan: they aim to be running a surplus by 2018 – so that the UK can begin to “pay down its debts” but have pledged not to increase VAT, National Insurance or Income Tax. Instead they will make cuts elsewhere and crack down on tax evasion as well as “aggressive” tax avoidance.

Green Party

The Greens have said they would like to do away with GDP and economic growth as a measure of success – instead using a measure called Adjusted National Product, which takes into account capital and environmental depreciation. They reject the austerity proposed by most other parties, and their manifesto plans would require almost double the amount of borrowing of those of the current coalition. But they say public spending and taxation would provide a 2.7% surplus by the end of the next Parliament.

Labour

Labour make a bold claim in their manifesto: that every policy has been costed, and will be paid for without any additional borrowing. They want to cut the deficit every year, and will provide a Budget to do so should they assume power, which will be independently verified by the Office of Budget Responsibility. They also have pledged to scrap zero-hours contracts, raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour, and freeze rail fares.

Liberal Democrats

As with the Conservatives, the Lib Dems are looking to eliminate the deficit by 2018 and aim to have debt falling as a percentage of national income. They have positioned themselves as the party that will “cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour”.

UKIP

UKIP want to scrap the Barnett Formula – which decides how much public spending to allocate to each area of the country – and replace it with a “needs based” system.

Education

Conservatives

David Cameron has pledged to invest £7bn over the course of the next parliament, to provide good school places, and open at least 500 new free schools – whilst turning failing schools into academies. He also promises to protect the schools budget, and will increase the amount spent on schools as the number of pupils increases. For young children, he wants to double the free childcare allowance (for 3 and 4 year olds) to 30 hours and, for higher education, will scrap the cap on student numbers.

Green Party

Looking to make education more accessible, the Green Party want to integrate grammar schools into the comprehensive system, and remove charity status from private schools. They’d also reduce class sizes to 10 and abolish tuition fees – these two measures would cost £6bn over the next parliament. Finally, they’d like to abolish SATs and school league table, and restore Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 and 17 year olds.

Labour

Labour have pledged to protect the entire education budget – from early years through to post-16. This is a protection in “real terms” rather than on a per-pupil basis, which is what the Conservatives have promised. They also want to cap class sizes for 5-7 year olds, ensure all students study maths and English to age 18 and employ directors of school standards to drive up standards in each area. They’ve also stated they would cut university tuition fees to £6,000 per year, and increase free childcare to 25 hours a week for 3 and 4 year olds.

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg wants to extend free childcare to cover 2-year-olds, and commit to 20 hours a week – up from 15 – for all parents with children aged 2-4. He also wants to protect the school budgets, and will extend free school meals to all primary school pupils, and would establish a view of higher education finance with a view to reform.

UKIP

UKIP would like to remove university tuition fees for students taking approved degrees in subjects such as science, medicine and engineering – providing those students go on to work in a related field and pay tax in the UK for 5 years after graduation. Students from the EU would pay the same fees as international students. UKIP also want to abolish KS1 SATs and reduce the amount of paperwork teachers currently have to do. They want to see grammar schools protects, and would fund further free schools.

Healthcare

Conservatives

£8bn extra per year on the NHS; identified by the chief executive as the amount it needs, an integration of health and social care, 7 day-a-week access to the NHS and a guarantee that everyone over 75 will get a same-day appointment should they need one.

Green Party

The Green Party would repeal the Health and Social Care Act – which allows private companies to provide services to NHS patients – and would stop private finance initiative contracts and the sale of NHS assets. They’d also immediately increase the budget by £12bn a year.

Labour

Ed Milliband has pledged to spend “£2.5bn more than the Conservatives” on the NHS – to recruit 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses and 3,000 more midwives. He also wants to guarantee GP’s appointments within 48 hours, and cancer tests for those who need them within a week. Mental health would be given the same priority as physical health, with greater access to talking therapies. And finally, the current Government’s privatisation plans would be repealed – with a cap put on profits that can be made from the NHS.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems also want to spend the extra £8bn per year that the NHS needs, and has pledged to invest £500m in mental healthcare so that waiting times for treatment are brought in line with those for physical health complaints.

UKIP

UKIP would like to put an extra £3bn per year into the NHS in England by the end of the next Parliament, funding the same staff increases as Labour, and support the construction of a dedicated, fully-staffed military hospital. They want to pilot putting GPs on duty in A&E and would invest £130m a year into researching and treating dementia.

Housing

Conservatives

The benchmark policy in this manifesto was to extend right-to-buy to housing association tenants, but the Conservatives would also build 200,000 starter-homes for first-time buyers (under the age of 40), to be sold at 20% below market rate, and want to extend Help-to-Buy to cover another 120,000 homes.

Green Party

The Green Party would like to give the Bank of England powers it has requested – to limit the size of mortgages in relation to the property value and borrowers’ income. They’d also introduce higher council tax bands, scrap the government’s Help-to-Buy scheme (at a saving of £600m a year) and instead build 500,000 new social rental homes.

Labour

The party want to ensure at least 200,000 new homes a year are built by 2020 and give first priority on these to local, first-time buyers. They’re also pledging to provide security for renters, by implementing three-year tenancies and a ceiling on rent rises.

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg has set a goal of building 300,000 new homes a year, and creating 10 new “garden cities” in the areas of the country where homes are most needed. They also want to introduce “rent to own” homes – where your monthly rental payments eventually buy you a stake in the property.

UKIP

Nigel Farage would like the priority on social housing to go to ex-service personnel and those returning from active service. He’s also outlined his plans for a “brownfield revolution” – which should create 1m new homes by 2020, as well as pledging to remove stamp duty on the first £250,000 for new homes built on brownfield sites. Finally, UKIP would prevent non-British nationals from participating in Help-to-Buy or Right-to-Buy schemes.

Immigration

Conservatives

The Conservatives have renewed their promise to put net migration in the “tens of thousands” and want to negotiate new rules with the EU so that people will have to be in the UK for a number of years before they can claim benefits or tax credits.

Green Party

The Green Party haven’t made any strong commitments in their manifesto regarding immigration, but Natalie Bennet has said on the record that she believes in the free-movement of people and definitely wouldn’t be seeking an in-out EU referendum.

Labour

Labour have put forward plans to ensure migrants won’t be able to claim benefits until they’ve lived in the UK for at least 2 years.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems have outlined a plan to speed up the process of asylum claims, and want to complete the restoration of full entry and exit checks at the borders. Immigrants who want to claim Job Seekers’ Allowance will have to have their English speaking skills assessed.

UKIP

A UKIP government would leave the EU, and start assessing immigrants on an Australian-based “points system”, to bring net migration down to between 20,000 and 30,000 per year. Migrants must have approved health insurance and wouldn’t be eligible to use the NHS until they’ve paid tax and National Insurance in the country for 5 years.

Tax and Welfare

Conservatives

David Cameron wants to raise the income tax threshold to £12,500 by the end of the next Parliament, and legislate so that no one working 30 hours a week or more on the minimum wage will have to pay tax. He’s pledged not to raise VAT, National Insurance or income tax, and wants to raise the 40p tax rate to £50,000 as well as increasing the inheritance tax threshold for homes to £1m, and reducing the benefits cap to £23,000.

Green Party

The Green Party support a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions, and controls on bank lending. They want to introduce a wealth tax of 2% on the top 1% of earners – this would raise £25bn a year. They also want to increase the top rate of income tax to 60% and increase corporation tax to 30%. They’d work to remove the bedroom tax, raise child benefit to £40 a week per child, and introduce a Citizen’s Pension of £180 a week.

Labour

Labour would reverse the cut in the top rate of income tax – taking it back to 50p, but have made a commitment not to raise the basic or higher income tax rates, as well as promising not to raise VAT or national insurance. They want to cut and then freeze business rates to maintain competitive corporate tax rates, and abolish non-domicile tax status – as part of an “all out assault” on tax avoidance. They would also review Universal Credit and protect working tax credits in the next parliament. There’s also their well-publicised “Mansion Tax” policy on properties over £2m, and a level on tobacco firms to raise money for the NHS.

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg is also worried about non-dom tax status, and would restrict access by ending the right to inherit it. He also wants to raise the personal allowance for income tax to at least £12,500, and would remove eligiblity for winter fuel payments for pensioners in the higher tax bracket.

UKIP

UKIP want to introduce an intermediate tax rate of 30p, for those earning between £43,000 and £55,000 – this would push the 40p rate to those earning over £55,000. They want to raise the basic allowance to £13,000 as well as increasing the transferable allowance (for married couples and civil partners) to £1,500. Inheritance tax would be abolished, as would the bedroom tax. Child benefit would be for the first 2 children only, and only for children permanently residing in the UK.

 

Photo Credit: Paul Albertella – Creative Commons

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