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2015 General Election: Policies

Wednesday May 6th, 2015

parliament_9342586XSmallThe 2015 General election will be held on May 7. You Gov polls (collated on May 4) forecast it to be the closest race in years, with the Conservative estimated to take 33%, Labour 33%, Lib Democrats 10%, UKIP 12%, Green Party 5% and the SNP 5% of votes.

This close competition has put great importance on the political party manifestos.

Here is a summary of the leading six parties’ policies on key issues.

NHS

Conservatives

  • Retain the Barnett Formula.
  • Increase NHS spending every year and prioritise funding for dementia research.

Labour

  • Establish a sensible commissioning framework, based on the principle of an NHS preferred provider; impose a cap on any profits private clinical firms can make from the NHS.
  • Invest in 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, and 3,000 more midwives.
  • Recruit 5,000 new home-care workers – a new arm of the NHS – to help care for those with the greatest needs at home; create a Cancer Treatments Fund.
  • Repeal the Health and Social Care Act, scrapping the competition regime.

Liberal Democrats

  • Always ensure access to health care is based on need not ability to pay and that the NHS remains free at the point of delivery.
  • Continue real-terms protection of the NHS budget until the books are balanced by 2017/18; increase NHS spending in line with economic growth from then on.
  • Invest half the initial £1 billion in providing care in people’s own homes and communities, implement the proposals outlined in the report of the Government’s Children’s Mental Health Taskforce.
  • Invest £50m to further our understanding of mental illness.
  • Secure local agreement on full pooling of budgets between the NHS and care services with a target date of 2018.
  • Work with Monitor to reform NHS funding systems, moving away from payments for activity to tariffs that encourage joined-up services and preventive care.
  • Work towards a global deal to release significant additional funds for finding a cure or preventive treatment for dementia, doubling NHS research spend for this condition by 2020. Introduce an annual Carer’s Bonus of £250 for carers looking after someone for 35 hours or more each week.

UKIP

  • Keep NHS free to UK residents.
  • Stop further use of PFI in the NHS.
  • Encourage local authorities to buy out their PFI contracts.
  • Opposes plans to charge patients for visiting their GP.

Green Party

  • End NHS privatisation.
  • Repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and introduce Health Reinstatement Bill; promote transparency by ending commercial confidentiality.
  • Increase overall NHS budget by £12bn a year, raise the NHS budgets to £20bn by 2020.
  • Free social care and health care for older people along the lines of the Barker Report at an additional cost of £8bn a year initially, but rising £9bn to the end of parliament.
  • Restore the funding for primary care to from the present 7% to 11% and review the case for increasing it further.

SNP

  • SNP would seek to increase this investment in the mental health innovation fund to £100 million over the next 5 years.
  • Invest a further £100million over the next 3 years to help tackle delayed discharges in our hospitals; invest an extra £40million for new medicines.
  • Invest more in specialist nursing care with a commitment to new spending of £2.5 million, with the first allocation going to support patients with motor neurone disease.

 

Housing

Conservatives

  • Build 200,000 new Starter Homes exclusively for first-time buyers under 40.
  • Complete the devolution of NI Corporation Tax powers to the Assembly, consistent with the Executive fulfilling its commitments on finance, welfare reform and efficiencies in the Stormont House Agreement.
  • Support the credit union movement in making financial services more accessible; Conservatives will continue the funding for Lending scheme into 2016.
  • Open at least 500 new free schools Over the next Parliament.

Labour

  • Ensure that at least 200,000 homes a year get built by 2020.
  • Give local authorities new ‘use it or lose it’ powers to encourage developers to build.
  • Increase competition in the house building industry by backing small builders, including through our Help to Build scheme, and by getting the public sector building again.
  • Start to build a new generation of garden cities; prioritise investment in flood prevention.

Liberal Democrats

  • Make at least ten new Garden Cities in England; provide up to five major new settlements along a Garden Cities Railway between Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Give local Authorities new powers to ensure development happens on any unused site in which the public sector has an interest.
  • Provide a new government-backed Housing Investment Bank.
  • Make a local housing plan for 15 years of housing need, working collaboratively with neighbouring Councils.
  • Allow Local Authorities more flexibility to borrow to build affordable housing, including traditional council housing, and devolve full control of the Right to Buy.

UKIP

  • Build 500 affordable rent houses every year for veterans.
  • Build eight halfway house hostels for homeless veterans.

Green Party

  • Provide a free nationwide retrofit insulation programme, investing £45bn over the course of the next parliament.
  • Provide 500,000 social homes for rent over the five-year parliament.
  • Control excessive rents and achieve house price stability.

SNP

  • Back investment in house-building targets across the UK of 100,000 affordable homes per year.

 

Education

Conservatives

  • Open at least 500 new free schools over the next Parliament.
  • Delay tuition fee repayment until graduates earn £21,000 per year.
  • Invest at least £7 billion over the next Parliament to provide school places.

Labour

  • Create thousands more apprenticeships in the public sector.
  • Make every government contract supplier provide apprenticeships.
  • Protect the entire education budget from early years through to post-16 education.
  • Cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 a year.
  • Introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee giving a paid starter job for every young person unemployed for over a year.

Liberal Democrats

  • Allow Local Authorities to select the school sponsor.
  • Reinstate post-study work visas for STEM graduates who can find graduate-level employment within six months of completing their degree.
  • Develop cutting-edge digital skills courses for young people and the unemployed, working with private sector employers and education and training providers.
  • Protect the education budget in real terms from the early years to age 19. Rule out state-funded profit-making schools; repeal the rule that all new state funded schools must be free schools or academies.
  • Increase the number of apprenticeships and improve their quality.

UKIP

  • Conduct a skills review to better inform our education system and qualifications.
  • Introduce an option for students to take an Apprenticeship Qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs.
  • Let students take up apprenticeships in jobs with certified professionals qualified to grade the progress of the student.

Green Party

  • Make higher education free and end the student loan system.
  • End tuition fees and cancel student debt; provide further education sector with £1.5bn a year extra funding.
  • Allow sixth form colleges and further education programmes to reclaim VAT on goods and services.
  • Reintroduce student grants, costing £2.2bn over the parliament.

SNP

  • Push for reduction of UK wide tuition fees, and continue free Scottish education across all levels.
  • Extend Educational Maintenance Allowance in Scotland to include an extra 10 00 school pupils and 12 000 college students.

 

Defence

Conservatives

  • Renew UK nuclear deterrent (34 submarines).
  • Address hearing loss among veterans; continue to support the Armed Forces community; continue a £375 million modernisation of UK courts system.
  • Build new prisons.
  • Continue to reserve policing and justice as matters for the UK Parliament.

Labour

  • Conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review in the first year of government.
  • Put sustainability and accountability at the centre of defence procurement.
  • Maintain a minimum nuclear continuous at sea deterrent.
  • Outlaw discrimination against and abuse of members of the Armed Forces.
  • Enshrine the Military Covenant in the NHS Constitution.

Liberal Democrats

  • Conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review in which we will revisit and update the Future Force 2020; Use the SDSR to establish a Single Security Budget; set long-term budgets to invest in the right equipment at competitive prices.
  • Invest in security and intelligence services to counter cyber attacks; remain fully engaged in international nuclear disarmament efforts.
  • Procure fewer Vanguard successor submarines and moving from continuous at sea deterrence to a contingency posture of regular patrols.

UKIP

  • Build 500 affordable rent houses every year for veterans; Build eight halfway house hostels for homeless veterans.
  • Guarantee jobs in the police, prison and border services to ex-servicemen and women who have served for 12 years.
  • Support ex-forces personnel who want to set up their own businesses.
  • Issue a Veterans service card to ensure fast-track access to mental health services.

Green Party

  • Decommission Trident and promote peacemaking.
  • Spend less on military research.
  • Phase out nuclear power within ten years.

SNP

  • Oppose nuclear weapons and abandon plans to renew the Trident nuclear missile system.
  • Seek early procurement of multirole Maritime Patrol Aircraft purchase ‘off the shelf’ by the end of this parliament and operating from Scotland.
  • Support greater transparency in UK defence spending.
  • Encourage an increase in the proportion of the defence procurement budget spent in Scotland.
  • Get Type 26 frigates must be built in Scotland and the aircraft carriers refitted at Rosyth.
  • Push for a collision warning system to be installed on Tornado and Typhoon aircraft as quickly as possible.
  • Seek a commitment for the earliest possible return of the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre to Kinloss, so that search and rescue operations can be coordinated in Scotland.

 

Business

Conservatives

  • Cut corporation tax, reduce red tape, cut the jobs tax – saving businesses up to £2,000; continue Funding for Lending scheme into 2016.
  • Increase annual tax charges for those with non-domiciled status; devolve further powers over skills spending; sell the Government’s stakes in the bailed-out banks and building societies.
  • Give SMEs’ a share of central government procurement to one-third; match-fund grants made by local authorities towards rural capital projects.
  • Let the British parliament vote on GM foods; support ‘responsible’ fracking; leave the Common Fisheries Policy and reinstate British territorial waters; abolish the export of live animals for slaughter.

Labour

  • Support the construction of High Speed Two, but keep costs down; support long-term investment in strategic roads and address the neglect of local roads.
  • Create a Small Business Administration making procurement contracts are accessible; establish a British Investment Bank with the mission to help businesses grow and to create wealth and jobs.
  • Transfer £30 billion of funding to city and county regions, along with new powers over economic development, skills, employment, housing, and business support.

Liberal Democrats

  • Remain a committed member of the EU so we can complete the Single Market in areas including online industries, the energy market and services, and
  • help negotiate EU international trade agreements, opening opportunities for British businesses.
  • Continue to allow high-skill immigration to support key sectors of the economy; reinstate post-study work visas for STEM graduates who can find graduate-level employment within six months of completing their degree. Complete the rollout of high-speed broadband, to reach almost every household (99.9%) in the UK as well as small businesses in both rural and urban areas.
  • Build on the success of Tech City, Tech North and the Cambridge tech cluster with a network across the UK acting as incubators for technology companies.
  • Support fast-growing businesses that could create a million jobs over 20 years, following the Sherry Coutu report into these ‘Scale- Ups. Maintain and develop the Government Digital Service.
  • Support growth in the creative industries, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.

UKIP

  • Leave the EU; negotiate a bespoke trade agreement with the EU; reoccupy the UK’s vacant seat at the World Trade Organisation; scrap the HS2 project.
  • Abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and scrap green subsidies; remove new subsidies for wind farms and solar arrays.
  • Abolish the Department for Culture Media and Sport.
  • Extend the right of appeal for micro businesses against HMRC.
  • Cut the massive burden of EU red tape; prevent big businesses deliberately delaying payments to smaller companies; cut Business Rates by 20% for companies having premises with a total Rateable Value of less than £50,000.
  • Support a credit insurance scheme to improve the financial security of small businesses; make it easier for small and medium-size businesses to tender for public service contracts; extend the right of appeal for micro businesses against HMRC.

Green Party

  • End blacklisting in the construction industry and others; give workers a greater say in the running of their companies.
  • Invest £2bn in a network of community banks; expand the role and funds in the Green Investment Bank; support social enterprise; introduce a cooperative development fund to finance new and expanding cooperatives.
  • Make it easier for small businesses to employ people and contribute towards paying living wage; maintain corporation tax for small firms at 20% while raising it to 30% for larger firms.
  • Increase access to finance by investing £2bn in a network of community banks; introduce SME prompt payment legislation.

SNP

  • Introduce Scottish business rates relief worth an estimated £594m for 2014-2015 and £618m for 2015-2016 – supporting 100,000 businesses across the country and press for the same step to be taken for UK wide public bodies.
  • Support steps to increase the capital available to the Green Investment Bank; seek adequate transport infrastructure investment, connecting Scotland to HS2 as a priority.
  • Seek additional investment for rapid roll out of superfast broadband and 4G across Scotland; make a Universal Services Obligation to be applicable to telecoms and broadband providers ensuring everyone is able to access the communications they need.
  • Use capital investment to create jobs, and support higher levels of economic growth, supporting at least 6500 jobs in the construction sector in Scotland. The SNP want to make it easier for growing businesses across Scotland to access finance and so, will look for an expansion of lending options, including peer-to-peer lending and making it easier for new entrants to the market, in particular to help with short term financing.
  • Press for seed-fund capitalisation of the new Scottish Business Development Bank; press the UK government to introduce effective legal protections to ensure small businesses are paid on time. Promote women at the most senior levels in our major companies.
  • Support reduction in VAT for the hospitality sector. Support new City Deals –and seek a £300 million Scottish Cities Fund.

The 2015 General election will be held on May 7; with polling booths open from 7am to 10pm.

 

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