The Labour Party manifesto – what it means for women

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The Labour Party has published its manifesto. It includes transitional measures for WASPI women, a ban on zero hours contracts and a tax rise for those earning more than £80,000. Find out what the Labour Party manifesto includes.

The Labour Party manifesto

The Labour Party manifesto is 128 pages long. I’ve highlighted the issues that I think will affect SavvyWoman users the most:

Pensions and pension-related benefits

Here’s what the manifesto has to say about pensions:

  • Scrap future rises in the state pension age: Labour says that it will put on hold plans to increase the state pension age above 66. It will hold its own review on further rises in the state pension age, aimed at developing a flexible retirement policy that takes into account the big differences in life expectancy, among other factors.
  • WASPI women: Pension credit will be extended to 1950s women who’ve lost out because they didn’t realise their state pension age was rising. Pension credit guarantee rate is paid at £159.30 (in tax year 2017 – 18). It is a means-tested payment which is set at just below the state pension level. You can find out how pension credit works and who qualifies for it in my article. Labour also says it’s exploring options for further transitional protections.
  • Ring-fence existing state pension: Labour says it will legislate so that the state pension cannot be changed in the future like it has been for WASPI women. It will introduce laws to protect any state pension you’ve already built up. If there are changes to the state pension in the future, this will only affect the state pension you build up after the change.
  • Guarantee the state pension triple lock: The triple lock, which currently means that the state pension will increase by wages, inflation or 2.5%, whichever is the higher, will stay.
  • Pensioner benefits: Winter fuel payment and free bus passes will be guaranteed. Find out more about the winter fuel payment in my article.
  • State pensions abroad: Protection of the state pension received by UK citizens living in the EU and elsewhere.
  • Workplace pensions: Labour says it will end rip-off hidden fees and charges. It wants to see larger, more efficient pension schemes developed.

Social care and caring

Labour says it will increase spending on social care by £8 billion over the next five years, including an extra £1 billion in the current year. It will also set up a National Care Service.

  • Increase Carer’s Allowance: Carer’s Allowance would be increased so it’s the same rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is currently £73.10 a week. Carer’s Allowance is currently £62.70 a week
  • Care visits: Home visits by care staff that only last for 15 minutes will be ended.
  • Paying for care: There would be a cap on the maximum amount anyone would pay for their care in their lifetime. The cap would be consulted on – including how to pay for it.

Children and childcare

  • Maternity pay: Extend maternity pay to 12 months. Currently it lasts for 39 weeks.
  • Sure Start: Halt the closure of Sure Start centres. These centres give help and advice on parenting, family health, money and provide childcare for pre-school children.
  • Paternity leave: Increase paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase rates of paternity pay.
  • Unfair dismissal due to pregnancy: Strengthen protection for women against maternity discrimination.
  • Gender pay auditing: Introduce a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay audits.
  • Free childcare: Extend the current 30 hours of free childcare a week during term time that parents with three and four year olds (in England) can get to all two year olds. Currently only two year olds whose parents are on a low income can get free childcare. Move towards making some childcare available for one year olds.
  • Increase childcare availability: Introduce subsidised childcare to make it more affordable.
  • Childcare employees: Move towards employing graduates in childcare by increasing wages and improving training.
  • Child bereavement: Introduce the funding of burial fees for children so parents don’t have to pay. Some councils have already done this.

Tax

  • Higher tax if you earn more than £80,000 a year. Labour has already said publicly that it will raise tax for those earning more than £80,000 a year. There will be a 45p% tax rate on earnings between £80,000 and £123,000 and a new tax rate of 50% on earnings above £123,000. It won’t raise tax rates for people who earn less than £80,000.
  • National Insurance, VAT rates: These will not be raised.
  • Stamp duty reserve tax: This is paid by financial institutions when they buy or sell certain types of financial product.
  • Corporation tax: Labour has already said this will be raised from 19% to 26%. It’s due to fall to 17% by 2020 under changes introduced by George Osborne. A lower small profits rate of corporation tax will be introduced for small businesses.

Companies and small businesses

  • Corporate governance: Company law will be changed so that directors will have a legal responsibility to employees, customers, the environment and the wider public, as well as shareholders.
  • Company takeovers: Business that are ‘systemically important’ must have a clear plan in place before they can be taken over, to protect workers and pensioners.
  • Excessive pay: An excessive pay levy will be introduced for companies with staff on very high pay.
  • Quarterly tax reports: Small businesses with a turnover of less than £85,000 won’t have to file quarterly tax reports, as proposed under the government’s plans called ‘Making Tax Digital’. Making tax digital has been shelved by the government.
  • Late payments: any companies bidding for government contracts will have to show it pays its own suppliers within 30 days. It will also develop a system of binding arbitration and fines for persistent late payers to the private and public sectors.

Benefits

  • Universal credit: Universal credit will be reformed with an end to the six week delay in payments and the abolition of the ‘rape clause’.
  • Bereavement Support Payment: Cuts to this benefit will be scrapped.
  • Scrap sanctions for benefits
  • Scrap the bedroom tax
  • Housing benefit: Reinstate housing benefit for people aged under 21.
  • Employment and Support Allowance: Increase the rate by £30 for those in the work-related activity group.
  • Scrap PIP and work capability assessments: Those with severe long term conditions wouldn’t have to be reassessed as well.

NHS

Labour says there will be an extra £30 billion in funding over five years (£6 billion a year). It will also repeal the Health and Social Care Act. There will be a legal duty on the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that excess profits are not made at the NHS at the expense of patient care.

  • Treatment times: Access to treatment within 18 weeks and A&E appointments within four hours.
  • Integrated community care: A new model of community care taking healthcare, social and mental health into account.
  • Postcode lotteries: Action to address postcode lotteries for treatment and drugs, paid for by increasing the tax on private medical insurance premiums.
  • Hospital parking: Funding of free hospital parking for NHS England.

Brexit

The manifesto says that Labour accepts the EU referendum result. It promises to build a close relationship with the EU and will prioritise jobs and workers’ rights and environmental standards. However, it will scrap the Brexit White Paper and replace it with a new one.

  • Rights of UK/EU citizens: Labour will guarantee the rights of EU nationals who already live in the UK and work to get the same rights for UK citizens elsewhere in the EU.
  • Single market. Labour wants to keep the benefits of the single market and the customs union.
  • EU regulations: Keep EU-derived laws on workers’ rights, equality, consumer rights and the environment.
  • Immigration: Free movement will end when we leave the EU. Labour will consult with business and others to identify specific labour and skill shortages and develop a new set of rules for immigration.

Economy and democracy

Labour says it will not borrow for day-to-day spending but will borrow to invest. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will become accountable to parliament and will oversee its ‘Fiscal Credibility Rule’. It will be able to ‘blow the whistle’ if the rule is being breached by government.

  • Investment: Create a National Transformation Fund to invest £250 billion over the next ten years to invest in infrastructure.
  • National Investment Bank: A national investment bank will be established to bring in private finance to deliver £250 billion of lending power. It will support a network of regional development banks. A Scottish Investment Bank will also be established, as will a Development Bank of Wales.
  • House of Lords: Reduce the size of the House of Lords and aim to make it an elected chamber.
  • Voting age: Reduce the voting age to 16.

Workplace rights and employment

Labour is promising lots of extra rights or changes in the workplace, including:

  • Rights at work: Equal rights for workers from day one, whether they are temporary or permanent, full or part time.
  • Minimum wage: Raise the minimum wage to the living wage. It should be £10 an hour by 2020. This would be for all workers over 18. Currently, the national living wage is only paid to those aged 25 or over.
  • Ban zero hours contracts: These would be outlawed entirely.
  • Unpaid internships: These would be outlawed entirely.
  • Trade unions: All workers would have a right to trade union representation at work. Guarantee trade unions a right to speak to workers and members at their workplace. Roll out collective bargaining across sectors. Introduce online balloting.
  • Four new public holidays: St George’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, St. David’s Day and St. Andrew’s day would become Bank Holidays.
  • Public sector pay: The public sector pay cap would be ended.
  • High/low pay gap: Labour says that companies that bid for government contracts should aim for a gap of no more than 20:1 between the highest and lowest paid.
  • Employment tribunal fees: These would be abolished.
  • Bereavement leave: Consult on introducing the right to time off after a close family member has died.

Self employment

  • Assuming workers are employees: If you work for a company, you’ll be assumed to be an employee unless your employer can show otherwise.
  • Umbrella companies: Umbrella or payroll companies will be banned.

Housing

  • One million new homes: Labour says it will build a million new homes and will ensure that by the end of the next parliament.
  • Help to buy scheme: Help to buy funding will be guaranteed until 2027.
  • Right of first refusal: Local people will be given ‘first dibs’ on new homes built in their area.
  • Leasehold homes: security from rip-off ground rents and the ending of the routine use of leasehold in new house developments.
  • Tenancies: Three year tenancies will be the norm. The Mayor of London may be given extra powers to help renters in London.
  • Legal minimum rental property standards: These will be introduced. If a property is sub-standard, tenants will be able to take action.
  • Council housing: Remove the current ban on long term council tenancies and suspend the right to buy programme. Councils will only be able to sell off social housing if they can show they will replace homes on a like for like basis.
  • Homelessness: A national plan to end rough sleeping within the next five years.

Education

  • National Education Service: A new service will be responsible for ‘cradle to grave’ learning that’s free.
  • Grammar schools: Scrap the government’s plans for grammar schools. It will also not force any schools to become academies.
  • Class sizes: Class sizes will be no more than 30 for five, six and seven year olds.
  • Free school meals: Free school meals for all primary age children. This will be paid for by charging VAT on private school fees.
  • Education Maintenance Allowance: The EMA will be reintroduced. It was paid to 16 – 18 year olds from lower income families.
  • Tuition fees: Abolish university tuition fees.

Transport and post

  • Trains: Railway franchises would be brought back into public ownership when the franchises expire.
  • Rail fares: Capping of fares and free wifi across the railway network.
  • End driver-only trains.
  • Royal Mail: Reverse the privatisation of Royal Mail as soon as possible.
  • Cycling: Upgrade and develop national cycle network.

Energy, insulation and water bills

  • Energy price cap: Labour says it wants to introduce a price cap to make sure that the average household spends less than £1,000 a year on gas and electricity.
  • Renewable energy: Labour wants 60% of energy to come from zero carbon or renewable sources by 2030. It says it’s committed to renewable projects, including tidal lagoons – and nuclear projects will be supported.
  • Fracking: This will be banned.
  • Home insulation: Insulate four million homes as a priority. Homeowners will be offered interest free loans to improve their homes. Regulations to ensure landlords make their homes more energy efficient will be strengthened.
  • Regional energy companies: Support the creation of at least one publicly owned energy company or co-operative in every region.
  • Water: Set up a network of regional, publicly owned water companies.

Women’s and LGBT rights, and domestic violence

Labour says it will establish a national refuge fund for rape crisis centres and end the use of community resolution where there’s been domestic violence. It would also appoint a Violence against Women Commissioner to make sure there are minimum standards for tackling domestic violence.

  • Policy and legislation: All policy and legislative decisions will be checked for their impact on women before they are implemented.
  • Family courts: It will re-establish early advice entitlements in the family courts. It says that one consequence of taking this away is that victims of domestic violence have to pay doctors to certify what their injuries are.
  • Legal aid: It will consider reinstating some entitlement to legal aid – after an independent commission has reported on this.
  • LGBT hate crimes: Hate crimes against lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender people will be categorised as aggravated offences (as hate crimes based on race and faith already are).

Environmental and animal welfare

  • Clean Air Act: A new clean air act will be introduced.
  • Puppy farms: prohibit third party sale of puppies.
  • Animal cruelty: Increase the maximum sentences for people convicted of animal cruelty.

Banks and financial services

  • Ring fence of investment banking: There will be a ring fence between investment and retail banking.
  • RBS: A consultation into breaking up RBS to create local public banks.
  • Bank branch closures: Banks won’t be able to close a branch where there’s ‘clear local need’.
  • Post Office Bank: Set up a commission to establish a Post Office Bank, which can provide a full range of banking services.

Related articles:

SavvyWoman’s money manifesto for women

History of the state pension; 10 things you need to know about how it affects women

National Insurance credits – NI credits could increase your state pension

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