The Conservative Party manifesto – what it means for women

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There’s no mention of WASPI women or how women have already been affected by rises in the state pension age. But there is a change to how we pay for care. What else is in the Conservative Party manifesto?

Pensions and pension-related benefits

  • 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 until 2020. After that it will be replaced with a double lock (the higher of earnings and inflation).
  • State pension age rises: Any future state pension age rises will reflect increases in how long we’re living for but should protect each generation fairly.
  • Pensioner benefits: Winter fuel payment will be means tested. Free bus passes, eye tests, TV licences etc will be guaranteed for the lifetime of this parliament.
  • Workplace pensions: The rules will be tightened so that it’s harder for unscrupulous business owners to abuse the pension scheme. The Pensions Regulator will be given the right to scrutinise and even stop takeovers that would put pension schemes at risk. A new criminal offence may be introduced for company directors who deliberately or recklessly put at risk the ability of a pension scheme to meet its obligations.
  • Pensions and lifetime ISA: A promise to promote long term savings and pension products, including the lifetime ISA.

Social care and caring

  • Paying for care: The value of your home will be taken into account when working out who should pay for care in your home, as well as for care in a nursing or residential home. Currently your home is not taken into account when you are assessed for care in your home, however, your home’s value IS taken into account if you need to go into a care home. There are some exceptions, such as if your wife, husband, civil partner or partner lives in the home (or some other relatives, depending on their situation).
  • A £100,000 means test: You will be able to keep £100,000 of the value of your assets (including your home). Currently the threshold is around £23,250 (it varies around the UK).
  • Deferring care costs: You will be able to put off paying for your care in your home, until you die. Currently you can only do this if you are going into a care home.
  • Time off for caring: Relatives will have the right to ask for up to a year off from work to care for a family member.

Children and childcare

  • Shared parental leave: Aim to improve the take up of shared parental leave.
  • Childcare: An assessment of the childcare provision that’s needed.
  • Nursery schools: An assumption that all new primary schools have nurseries.

Tax

  • Personal allowance. The Conservatives will keep their promise – originally made by George Osborne – to increase the personal allowance to £12,500 and the 40% threshold to £50,000 by 2020.
  • VAT: VAT rates will not be increased.
  • Council tax: Local residents will be able to veto large rises in council tax through a referendum.
  • Tax avoidance and evasion: There will be tougher regulation of tax advisory firms.
  • Self employed: The tax system for self-employed people and small businesses will be simplified.

Companies and small businesses

  • Corporation tax: This is due to fall to 17% by 2020 under changes introduced by George Osborne – and this target is in the new manifesto.
  • Service personnel NI holiday: Companies employing people who leave the armed forces will get a one year holiday on their National Insurance contributions.
  • NI holiday for those who find it hard to get work: Companies that take on someone who was in the care system, who has mental health problems, who’s been in jail, has been unemployed for a year or who is disabled will be a one year holiday on their National Insurance contributions.
  • Takeovers and mergers: Overseas companies that want to take over UK ones will be held to promises they make when bidding for companies.
  • High/low pay: The Conservatives will introduce laws so shareholders will be able to vote on executive pay packages. Companies listed on the stock exchange will have to publish the ratio of executive pay to average pay in the UK.
  • Corporate governance: The law will be changed so that companies listed on the stock exchange will have to nominate a director from the workforce or make one non-exec director responsible for employee representation. Employees will also have the right to get information about future plans for the company.
  • Business rates: Revaluations will be carried out more often so there aren’t such big changes to business rates. The Conservatives will explore the introduction of self-assessments in the valuation process. The party will also carry out a review of the business rates system to so it’s fair to high street retailers competing against online ones.
  • Government contracts: A third of government contracts will be with small businesses by the end of parliament. Large companies will not be able to bid for government contracts if they do not pay their smaller suppliers promptly.
  • Regulation: Continue with the Red Tape Challenge, which identifies unnecessary regulations. They will also continue with the ‘one in, two out’ rule, which means for every new regulation that costs businesses extra money, existing regulations should be changed so that businesses save £2 for every extra £1 of costs imposed. Phew!

NHS and health

The Conservatives have already promised an extra £8 billion for the NHS over five years and this is included in the manifesto.

  • Mental Health Act: A new act will put ‘parity of esteem’ at the heart of treatment of mental health problems.
  • Mental health friends: One million people will be trained to become ‘mental health friends’, using the same model as for dementia friends.
  • Flexible working: Improved access to flexible working in the NHS and a target to reduce bullying rates.
  • Digital and phone booking: Patients will be able to book appointments online or by phone, order repeat prescriptions and update some of their details.
  • GP appointments: Evening and weekend GP appointments will be available to all by 2019.

Brexit

The Conservative manifesto says they want to negotiate a free trade and customs union agreement with the EU. They aim to reach the same free trade deals with non-EU countries as the EU currently has with them.

  • Brexit deal: Both the House of Commons and House of Lords will have a vote on the final Brexit deal.
  • Immigration: A target of tens of thousands for net immigration.

Economy and democracy

  • Deficit: Aim to reduce the deficit (the difference between what the government spends and what it gets in taxes etc) to zero by 2025.
  • Future Britain funds: Use revenues from fracking and things like dormant assets to create funds to support investment and infrastructure. Pension funds will also be encouraged to invest in these.
  • Devolution and decentralisation: Continue to work with devolved administrations and move a significant number of departments and civil servants out of London and the south east to elsewhere in the UK.
  • Fixed term parliaments act: This act, which says that parliament has to sit for a five year term unless there’s a vote that says otherwise, will be repealed.
  • Voting: People will have to present a form of ID before they can vote.

Workplace rights and employment

  • National living wage: The National Living Wage which is currently £7.50 an hour for those aged 25 or over, will rise in line with 60% of average (median) earnings by 2020.
  • The gig economy: Currently there’s an independent review into the gig economy and self employment. The Conservatives say that they will make sure that employees, self-employed people and those working in the gig economy are all protected.
  • Workers’ rights: Workers’ rights that are currently a result of EU membership will remain until we leave the EU. After that, these laws will become UK law and can be changed or repealed.

Housing

There’s already a commitment (from 2015) for one million new homes by the end of 2020 and the manifesto says there will be another 500,000 by the end of 2022.

  • Home buying process: Reform of the home buying process to bring down the cost.
  • Council homes: Some councils will be allowed to build new homes but only if they have high standards.
  • Private landlords: Landlords who refuse to rent to tenants on the basis of gender, religion or race will be prosecuted.
  • Social housing right to buy: Tenants will have the right to buy their new ‘fixed term’ social housing after 10 or 15 years.
  • Homelessness: Plan to halve rough sleeping by the end of parliament and end it by 2027.
  • Leasehold: Crack down on escalating ground rents and other unfair leasehold practices.

Education

  • Schools: Schools that are rated as inadequate or needing improvement won’t be able to create extra places.
  • Tuition fees: Universities that charge the maximum tuition fee will have to become involved in the creation of academies or free schools.
  • Grammar schools: The ban on grammar schools will be lifted.
  • School admissions policy: This will be reviewed.
  • Teachers: Teachers won’t have to pay back their student loan – or won’t have to pay them back at the full rate (the manifesto is unclear on this) while they’re teaching.
  • School breakfast: Free school breakfast to all primary age children. Children of parents on a low income will also get free school lunches in primary and secondary school.
  • Mental health: Mental health first aid training for teachers in primary and secondary schools.
  • Institutes of technology: New institutes of technology will be established in every major city. These will be linked to universities and backed by employers.
  • Technical education: There will be a UCAS-style portal for technical courses.
  • Apprentice discount fares: Apprentices will be able to access cheaper bus and train fares.

Transport and post

  • Zero emission cars: The aim is for almost every car and van to be zero emission by 2050.
  • Railways: There will be increased capacity on the railways.
  • Train fares: Make train fares clearer and set up a railways ombudsman.
  • Mobile phone and wifi: Good mobile phone and wifi signal on mainline trains and stations by 2022.
  • Cycling: Local authorities will be supported in expanding cycle networks and improving facilities for cyclists at railway stations.

Energy, insulation and water bills

  • Energy price cap: A price cap will be introduced.
  • Energy costs: A review into the cost of energy with the aim of ensuring the UK has the lowest energy costs in Europe.
  • Energy production: The energy mix will be focused on the outcomes rather than on the way it’s produced.
  • Fracking: Fracking will be part of the energy mix. Non-fracking drilling will be treated as a permitted development. A shale regulator will be set up.
  • Energy bills for disabled people: Work with energy and telecoms companies to ensure that people who are disabled don’t pay more for their bills.
  • Insulation: Insulate fuel poor homes to a certain standard by 2030.
  • Energy switching: Price comparison sites will be encouraged to give information about service as well as price.

Consumer rights

  • Phone bills: Make phone bills easier to understand, including telling you when you’ve paid for your mobile phone handset.
  • Private parking companies: A clampdown on rogue companies.

Women’s and LGBT rights, and domestic violence

  • Rape victims: Victims of sexual violence will be able to be cross examined before the trial so they don’t have to go to court.
  • Domestic violence and abuse bill: This will define what domestic abuse is. A domestic violence and abuse commissioner will also be established.
  • Lifetime tenancies: Women and men who have lifetime social housing tenancies and who are the victims of domestic violence will automatically get new lifetime tenancies.
  • Family courts: An exploration of ways to improve family courts.
  • Modern slavery: Review the Modern slavery legislation to stop criminals exploiting women, men and children.
  • Gender pay gap: Companies with 250 employees or more will have to publish more data on their gender pay gap.
  • Women on the boards: A push for an increase in the number of women on boards.
  • Public appointments: A target of 50:50 women and men getting public appointments.

Environmental and animal welfare

  • Puppy farms: The government has already said it will tighten up the rules on the sale of young puppies.
  • Slaughterhouses: It will be mandatory to have CCTV cameras in slaughterhouses.
  • Foxhunting: There will be a free vote on the current ban on foxhunting.

Banks and financial services

  • Post Office: Look to extend business banking services from the Post Office to small businesses and families in rural areas.
  • Breathing space on debts: Introduce a scheme to give people with serious debt problems the right to apply for breathing space for six weeks with no legal enforcement, interest or charges.

Related articles:

The Labour Party manifesto – what it means for women

SavvyWoman’s money manifesto for women

Arranging care at home for an elderly relative

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