The Liberal Democrats manifesto – the main points

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The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto includes the state pension triple lock, a 1p tax rise to fund the NHS and social care and extra free childcare. What else is in it?

Pensions and pension-related benefits

There’s no information about the state pension age rise, but there is a commitment to the state pension triple lock.

  • 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 for the next parliament.
  • Pensioner benefits: Winter fuel payment will not be available to anyone paying tax at 40% or more. Free bus passes will not be means tested.
  • Tax relief on pensions: Consult on changing the current system of a basic and higher rate of tax relief (a government top up using some of the tax you pay) to a flat rate.

Social care and caring

  • Care costs cap: Introduce a cap on the amount you will have to pay for care.
  • Carer’s Allowance: Raise the amount people can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £110 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours’ care each week needed to qualify.
  • Carer’s Passport Scheme: The NHS will be given a legal duty to identify carers and develop a Carer’s Passport scheme to tell them about their rights relating to the NHS.
  • Free end of life social care: Move to free end of life social care, when people spend their last days in a hospice or at home.

Children and childcare

  • Paternity leave: An extra month’s paid paternity leave.
  • Shared parental and paternity leave: These will become rights from day one of employment.
  • Childcare: Extend free childcare of 15 hours a week to all two-year-olds in England and for working families from the end of paid parental leave. The long term goal is for 30 hours’ free childcare a week for all children aged two to four years (England only). Make sure this childcare is fully funded.

Tax

The Libdems will provide an extra £6 billion for the NHS and social care by putting an extra 1p on all three income tax rates. There’s more information on this in the NHS section.

  • Dividend tax: A 1p rise in the rate of dividend tax. Currently it’s paid at 7.5%, 32.5% or 38.1%, depending on your tax rate.
  • National Insurance: Aim to align the National Insurance threshold with the personal allowance. Currently, the NI threshold is £8,164 while the personal allowance is £11,500.
  • Reverse tax cuts: Reverse cuts to capital gains tax, the increase in inheritance tax if you have children or grandchildren, scrap the marriage allowance and reduce cuts to corporation tax from 20% to 17%.
  • Alcohol: Introduce a minimum unit pricing for alcohol (only once they know the outcome of the legal challenge in Scotland).

Companies and small businesses

  • Retail and business: Create a new retail and business strategy to tackle impact of technology on jobs.
  • Corporation tax: Reform corporation tax so biggest companies pay a fair rate and smaller companies are benefited. Corporation tax may be based on something other than profit alone.
  • Business rates: Reform business rates to help smaller businesses and high streets.
  • Start up allowance: Introduce an allowance to help people with costs in the first few weeks of starting their own business.
  • Support growth of small businesses: Help businesses to grow with a mentoring scheme.
  • Regulation: Remove unnecessary regulation.
  • Good employer kitemark: This will be awarded to companies doing things like paying the living wage, not using unpaid internships and using name blind recruitment.
  • Executive pay: The right to staff representation on executive pay committees and on the board of listed companies. Binding, public votes on exec pay.
  • Shares in employer companies: Staff working for companies employing 250 people or more will have the right to ask for shares in the company – which will be held in trust to benefit employees.
  • Company ownership: Publish details of anyone owning more than 1% in a listed company.
  • Companies and investment companies: The rules governing their duties will be reformed so they have to take factors such as employee welfare and the environment into account when making decisions.
  • Betting shops: Curb the increase in the number of betting shops.

Benefits

The Libdems manifesto says that working age benefits will be increased by at least inflation.

  • Universal credit: Let both parents earn before universal credit is cut. Reverse cuts to family element and let those who get back into work earn for longer before universal credit is cut.
  • Long term sick: Improve links between jobcentres and the NHS so people on long term ill health benefits get help they need.
  • Child tax credit: Remove the limit, introduced this April, that says you can only get child tax credits for your first two children (or if you can show you’ve been raped).
  • Housing allowance: Reinstate housing allowance for under 21s.
  • Jobseeker’s allowance and universal credit: Increase these rates for 18-24-year-olds at the same rate as the minimum wage.
  • Employment and support allowance: Reverse cuts to people in the work-related activity group.
  • Bedroom tax: Scrap the bedroom tax.
  • Work capability assessment: Scrap these assessments and replace with one based on ‘real world’ tests.
  • Foodbanks: Help people who have to resort to foodbanks to claim benefits they’re entitled to.

NHS and health

The Libdems will provide an extra £6 billion for the NHS and social care by putting an extra 1p on all three income tax rates. This will be paid in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not in Scotland, which sets its own income tax rates. This will be ringfenced. In the longer term, there will be a commission to look at how to fund the NHS. This could be by reforming National Insurance.

  • End pay cap: The current cap on NHS pay rises will be abolished.
  • Student bursaries: Reinstate student bursaries.
  • NHS whistleblowers: Protect NHS whistleblowers.
  • GP appointments: Encourage more online, Skype and phone appointments and expanding evening and weekend access to appointments.
  • Prescription charges: A review of prescription charge exemptions to make sure they’re fair to people with long term health problems.
  • Cosmetic surgery: Regulate cosmetic surgery by implementing the recommendations in the Keogh report.
  • Childhood obesity: Develop a strategy to reduce childhood obesity including restrictions on advertising junk food.
  • Mental health/wellbeing: Introduce the mental health equivalent of the ‘5 a day’ campaign.
  • Mental health: Ringfence funding for mental health.
  • Mental health therapy: No-one will have to wait for more than six weeks for therapy for depression or anxiety (two weeks for children).
  • Mental health and work: Extend a programme designed to help people with mental health problems back into work.
  • Pregnant women and new mums: Mental health care will be improved for these groups.
  • Children’s social work: Fast track talented graduates to careers in children’s social work.
  • Mental health and police cells: End the use of police cells for people with a mental health crisis.
  • Cannabis: Legalise and regulate the availability of cannabis.
  • Drugs for personal use: End imprisoning people caught with illegal drugs for personal use.

Brexit

The Libdems manifesto say they will fight against a hard Brexit.

  • Brexit deal: There will be a referendum on the Brexit deal that’s been negotiated. The option of staying in the EU will be on the ballot paper.
  • Rights of UK/EU citizens: The Libdems will press for a guarantee of 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. Press for a reform of the registration process for EU citizens to get permanent residency rights.
  • Single market and customs union: Aim for continued membership of the single market and customs union. Financial companies and the City of London should maintain its access to the EU.
  • Freedom of movement: This should be maintained.
  • Immigration: Hold a debate in parliament every year about the skills shortages and immigration levels needed. Allow immigration of people with high skills and exclude overseas students from immigration figures.
  • Syrian refugees: Accept 50,000 Syrian refugees between now and 2022.
  • Benefits for asylum seekers: Working age asylum seekers who have waited for more than six months for their claim to be processed will be expected to look for work in the same way as anyone else.
  • Workplace and environmental standards: Where these have originated from the EU, the Libdems will fight to keep them.
  • EHIC, pet passports and roaming charges: The Libdems will aim to keep these.

Economy and democracy

The Libdems want to reform the House of Lords, cap donations to political parties to £10,000 per person and let trade union members decide which party they want to support.

  • Deficit: Aim to reduce the day-to-day deficit to zero by 2020. Bring down the national debt. Only borrow to invest.
  • Devolution and decentralisation: Devolve more power away from Westminster.
  • Human Rights: Oppose any attempt to leave the European Court of Human Rights or water down the Human Rights Act.
  • Freedom of Information: End the veto that ministers currently have on FOI requests.
  • Legal aid: Increase funding for criminal legal aid.
  • Voting age: Lower the voting age to 16 and encourage young people to register to vote.
  • Voting: Introduce a single transferable vote. Scrap the boundary changes review due in 2018.

Workplace rights and employment

  • Living wage: An independent review into setting a genuine living wage. All government departments will pay it and the public sector will be encouraged to.
  • Flexible working: Assume everyone has the right to work flexibly unless there’s a good business reason why they shouldn’t.
  • Wellbeing premium: Give employers who take action to improve the health of their employees a financial incentive/reward.
  • High/low wages: Companies will have to publish details on the pay ratios and numbers of employees paid below the living wage.
  • The gig economy: Currently there’s an independent review into the gig economy and self employment. The Libdems say that they will make sure that the gig economy works for workers.
  • Zero hours contracts: People on zero hours contracts will have the right to ask for a fixed hours contract. Consult on making zero hours contracts become standard contracts after a time.
  • Employment rights: Employment tribunal fees will be scrapped. Increases in court fees will also be reversed.
  • Religious dress: Guarantee the freedom to wear religious or cultural clothing – in and out of work.

Housing

The Liberal Democrats say they will build 300,000 new homes a year by 2022.

  • Housing and infrastructure bank: An investment of £5 billion for a housing and infrastructure bank, aimed at attracting private investment.
  • Council and social housing homes: Lift borrowing cap so councils can build council homes and let housing associations borrow more so they can build more social homes.
  • Right to buy: Councils can end right to buy if they choose.
  • Council tax on second homes: Councils can impose a council tax of 200% on second properties if they choose.
  • New homes: Smaller developments wouldn’t have to build affordable homes but larger developments would – with penalties for developers who don’t deliver on their promises.
  • Rent to own: Introduce a housing model where rent payments will give tenants an increasing stake in their home. After 30 years they’ll own it.
  • Letting fees: Ban letting fees, set minimum standards for housing.
  • New homes: Make developers advertise new homes in the UK before they can advertise abroad.
  • Right of first refusal: If you’re renting and the landlord wants to sell, you’ll have the right to buy it at a fair market price, before it’s sold elsewhere.
  • Longer tenancies: Promote tenancies of three years or more.
  • Licensing of landlords: Landlords will be licensed and a database of rogue landlords set up.
  • Social housing right to buy: End right to buy pilots for social housing.
  • Homelessness: Increase funding for schemes to reduce homelessness.

Education

  • Extra funding: An extra £7 billion for education. Reverse front-line budget cuts for schools. Increases to the pupil premium (this is extra money for schools to help disadvantaged children).
  • Early years: Increase the early years pupil premium to £1,000 and increase quality of early years teaching.
  • Grammar schools: These and other selective schools will be opposed.
  • Free schools and academies: Repeal the law that says new state funded schools should be free schools or academies.
  • Teachers’ pay: End the 1% pay cap for teachers. Tackle unnecessary workloads and improve training opportunities.
  • Special educational needs: Ensure that children with SEN are identified as early as possible.
  • Free school meals: Extend free school meals to all primary schools and look at school breakfast clubs.
  • University maintenance grants: Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest families.
  • Student loans: Review student finance and ensure there’s no more retrospective raising of interest rates or selling off of loans to private companies.
  • National colleges: Develop national colleges for skills in key areas, such as renewable energy.
  • Apprenticeships: Double the number of businesses that hire apprentices, and extend them to sectors such as creative and digital.
  • Mental health: Ensure teachers have the skills to recognise mental health problems.

Transport, telecoms post

  • Broadband speeds: Broadband should be 2Gbps or more by 2020, along with unlimited usage. Small businesses prioritised in the rollout of hyperfast broadband.
  • Rights over digital data: Introduce a digital bill of rights – giving people rights over information about themselves.
  • Diesel cars: Ban on the sale of diesel cars and vans by 2025 and the introduction of a diesel scrappage scheme.
  • Taxis and buses: All taxis and diesel buses to run on ultra low emission fuel by 2022.
  • Ultra low emission zone: Extend congestion charging (unless your vehicle is ultra low emission) to ten more cities.
  • 16-21-year-olds bus pass: Two thirds discount on bus travel for 16-21-year-olds.
  • Railways: Rail franchises to have increased focus on customers. Public sector bodies. Take over the running of Southern Rail from Govia Thameslink.
  • Rail ombudsman: Appoint a rail ombudsman who has the power to punish the rail companies.
  • Accessibility: Make more stations and cities accessible for people in wheelchairs.
  • Cycling: Implement the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report, which includes a 20 mph speed limit in towns and 40mph on rural roads, and a £10 a year cycling allowance.
  • Post Office: Prevent Post Office closures and keep the Royal Mail universal service obligation which states it has to deliver to all of the UK at the same price.

Energy, insulation and water bills

  • Renewable energy: 60% of electricity should be from renewable sources by 2030. The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project will go ahead. Nuclear will be part of the energy mix.
  • Climate change targets: Set targets to be zero carbon by 2050 and reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2040.
  • Investment: Invest in carbon capture and renewable energy storage technology.
  • Energy efficiency: All homes in England should have an energy rating of C or above by 2035.
  • Energy competition: Aim for 30% of households to be signed up with suppliers that aren’t not one of the Big Six, by 2022.
  • Community energy schemes: Expand community energy schemes.
  • Fracking: Fracking will be opposed.
  • Insulation: Four million homes will be insulated by 2022.

Women’s and LGBT rights, and domestic violence

  • Cohabiting couples: Introduce rights for couples who live together and introduce mixed sex civil partnerships.
  • Free tampons and sanitary towels: Give free sanitary products to schoolgirls to end ‘period poverty’.
  • Rape and sexual abuse: Give government money for a national rape crisis helpline.
  • Sexual and domestic violence: Review procedures in prosecution of domestic and sexual violence cases.
  • Female offenders: Set up a Women’s Justice Board to look at the specific needs of female offenders.
  • Gender identity: Allow people who don’t identify as male or female to use the ‘X’ option on passports and other official documents.
  • Gender: Allow people to change their legal gender after gender reassignment more easily. Remove spousal veto, where a husband or wife can stop their spouse from gender recognition.
  • Equality pay gap: Companies with 250 employees or more will have to publish data on their gender, black, Asian and minority ethnic and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gap.
  • Women on the board: A target of at least 40% of board members of FTSE 350 companies being women. Increase in ethnic minority representation by implementing the Parker review.
  • Public appointments: Introduce an assumption that every shortlist includes at least one black, Asian and minority ethnic candidate.
  • Back to work: Improve childcare and add extra funding to aim for an extra million women in work by 2025.
  • Sex work: Decriminalise prostitution (both as sex worker and paying for sex). Focus police resources on traffic and enforced prostitution.

Environmental and animal welfare

  • Puppy imports: Clamp down on illegal puppy imports.
  • Animal cruelty: Extend maximum sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years.
  • Farm animal welfare: Ban caged hens and update farm animal welfare codes.
  • Flooding: Establish a £2 billion flood prevention fund.
  • Zero waste: Introduce a zero waste act to set targets for reducing the use of certain resources and encouraging resource efficiency in business.
  • Packaging: Reduce wasteful packaging, set targets to reduce waste and introduce a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups.

Banks and financial services

  • Financial inclusion: The Financial Conduct Authority will have responsibility to promote financial inclusion.
  • Regional banks: Big banks will have to fund the development of regional banks to support small business.

Related articles:

The Conservative Party manifesto – what it means for women

The Labour Party manifesto – what it means for women

SavvyWoman’s money manifesto for women

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