To guide our readers on the pending UK General Election on Thursday, 7th May 2015, Capital Moments have decided to provide an in depth overview on the policies of the parties. We hope to better inform young voters in deciding who to select in the ballot box this week.
This piece will cover the plans and promises of the Labour party, headed by their leader Edward Miliband, they have notoriously always swayed to the left on the political spectrum, pushing for government intervention, social justice and strong redistribution of wealth. How does this ideology translate into policies for young people?
I will outline the aims and point in 5 areas and provide a Capital Moments perspective on how the policy may influence young people, not in only in the next 5 years of government but in the long term, brace yourselves, this is going to be a long read!
Healthcare & Welfare
• Extra £2.5bn funding for the NHS, to pay for 20,000 more nurses, 3,000 midwives and 8,000 GPs
• Repeal the Health and Social Care Act and cap the amount of profit private firms can make from the NHS at 5%
• Support families by expanding free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.
• Integrate NHS health care and social care
• End 15 minute care visits
• Guaranteed job for under-25s unemployed for over a year and for adults unemployed over two years, paid for by taxing bankers’ bonuses
• Scrap the “bedroom tax”
• Tax credits to rise in line with inflation from next year
• Cap structural welfare spending
The policies on health make sense for young people, especially young parents, Labour’s policy will help to support better health services in the longer term for many of us in a generation that are expected to liver longer, healthier lives. Their overview of tax credits and removal of the bedroom will help the young low income earners in society but their guarantee of jobs for the long-term unemployed is totally at odds with economic logic. Provision of jobs should not be supported by an uncertain tax on bankers bonuses or by government policy, Labour should do better to implement policy to improve the training or investment for the long-term unemployed.
Economy & Taxation
• Balance the books by cutting the deficit every year, with a surplus on the current budget and national debt falling in the next Parliament
• No additional borrowing for new spending
• Devolve £30bn of funding and business rates to England’s city and county regions
• Re-introduce the 50% top rate of income tax for people earning over £150k, and the 10% starting rate
• No rise in VAT, NI or basic and higher rates of income tax
• Introduce a “mansion tax” on houses worth over £2m and tax levy on tobacco firms
• Abolish non-dom status and marriage tax allowance
Labour’s policy on the deficit does do well to put the public purses back in straights within the next government without instilling too much pain on young people’s plight, especially for those on low income pay; the levy on tobacco firms is well intentioned but there may be a limit on the gains. Unfortunately I also see the gain from the 50% rate not doing much for tax revenues. The mansion tax is a great money spinner and despite opposition, it ensures to protect lower income earners from paying any taxes until the property changes hands. The extra ‘mansion tax’ revenue could help plug a hole for other important areas for young people like education and housing but the actual implementation and execution is seemingly nigh impossible, how do you really value a house fairly?.
• Protect education budget for 0-19 year olds so it rises in line with inflation
• Cut university tuition fees to £6,000 a year funded by restricting tax relief on pension contributions for the highest earners
• Ensure all primary schools guarantee access to childcare from 8am to 6pm and cap class sizes at 30 for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds
• Raise minimum wage to more than £8 an hour by 2019 and ban ZHCs
• Work with the private sector to create the Technical Baccalaureate, a vocational award for 16 to 18-year-old that is respected on par with academic university degrees
• School-leavers with required grades for jobs to be guaranteed apprenticeships paid for by a bank bonus tax
With over 700,000 young people unemployed, there is a strong imperative to get more young people employed with the right skills and qualities. Labour’s education policy can not be disputed in this regard, they want to ensure the education budget is protected and introduce better qualifications standards for technical professions with employer support. Lowering student fees also helps slightly but more needs to be done to ensure more young people are equipped with STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) attributes to better equip themselves in the future economy.
Immigration & Crime
• 1,000 new border staff and exit checks
• Keep cap on workers from outside the EU
• Make it illegal for employers to undercut British workers by exploiting migrants
• Two-year wait before EU migrants can claim out-of-work benefits
• Scrap police and crime commissioners and protect neighbourhood policing
• Ensure all police officers become Chartered Officers, holding a registration with the College of Policing
• New commissioner on domestic and sexual abuse
• Pilot a new approach to 18 to 20-year-old offenders, incentivising local authorities, police and probation services to work together
• Overhaul the Prevent programme aimed at stopping more people getting drawn towards violent extremism
Immigration, a hot discussion from this election especially given the rise of UKIP, immigration has helped to improve our economic growth but there are plausible arguments to suggest many EU immigrants are not being paid a fair living wage which is undercutting British workers. For young people, ensuring a living Wage is set for immigrants and themselves may either ensure they can compete in those markets or totally make the industries paying those wages redundant; their answer to Immigration still seems to be a paradox. Their policy for crime however is highly recommended, fostering improved standards amongst police and better neighbour policing should improve community and police relations. This would help young people, my only worry is in a time of lower government spending, where’s the money for this?
• Get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020
• Guarantee three year tenancy agreements in the private sector and a “ceiling” on rent increases with the creation of private landlord register
• Prioritise local first-time buyers in new housing areas
• Prioritise capital investment in housing to build more affordable homes.
In some regards, their policy is no different to the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives; with claims to improve access to homes for 1st time buyers. I still believe all of the parties need to more to ensure house building is increased more drastically. The biggest difference is the tenancy agreement for landlords, the landlord register is smart, it well help keep better tabs on the behavior of landlords. But, the tenancy agreement, that will implement ‘ceiling’ rent increases for the private sector is again like the ‘mansion tax’, will be very difficult to implement across the country.
Other key promises
• Replace the House of Lords with an elected senate
• Votes for 16 and 17-year-olds
• Legislate for a “lock” that guarantees no transfer of powers from Britain to the EU without an in/out referendum.
• Freeze rail fare for 1 year and cap energy bills until 2017
• Require large companies to publish their gender pay gap
Would they get your vote?
Overall, I would have to say that many of Labour’s policies are well intentioned politically and justified in their social merit, there are some slight concerns on how they may be executed and the economic ramifications, especially the energy bill freeze and ‘mansion tax’. However, the positives include an improved education system with the introduction of a Technical Baccalaureate and lowering of tuition fees. It is not a complete turn but it will help to leave young people with less student debt and better education choices and opportunities.
Their housing policy in my opinion still needs to more to improve the supply of homes rather than stoking demand, 200,000 homes a year is not enough but I think their policy of improved neighbourhood policing and the Chartered Officers will help to foster better relations between young people and the police. A change in policy that is strongly needed given the 2011 riots during the last government. Lastly, I believe their aim to allow votes for 16/7 year olds and replacement of the House of Lords will allow young people to better influence politics for their generation.