Zoe Beaty | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 29 January 2015

What Will Actually Happen For You If Labour/Tories/Lib-Dems/Green/UKIP Win The General Election

The Debrief: Er, so exactly what are each parties policies on all the key issues affecting us?

Politics: not always straightforward. When there are so many voices, opinions and so much spin, it’s easy to assume much of what is said is disingenuous bollocks – which probably goes some way into explaining why, at the last General Election, 17.1 million Brits failed to register a vote. Of those, 9.1 million were women. Just to put it into context, that’s almost one third of us. 

It meant that in 2010, our voice was compromised. We didn’t shout nearly as loud as we needed to. This May, we have the opportunity to vote again as the General Election comes around once more. And 2015 could be our year.

Labour has already realised the potential power women have if we use it – and young women especially. A recent survey revealed that people aged 18-25 make up a huge proportion of the undecided voters. In other words, the vitality of the youth vote could swing the entire thing.

Since this is early days in election terms, the final political manifestos for each party have not yet been released. But we’ve had a quick look at just some of the promises that parties have pledged in the past that could affect you.

Here’s our cheat sheet so far:

Renting a flat is hard and expensive what will you do to help? 

What Labour says about that

Cap rent in order to try and control the housing market and make it harder for landlords to exploit those on the rental market. 

What that means

Rents would be capped for three years per tenancy contract, meaning no nasty rent-hikes six months in. Unfortunately, this does mean that there is room for landlords to spike the rent at the beginning of the tenancy so as to compensate for their potential loss as inflation continues to rise.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that rents would be lower – but we might know where we stand a bit more, which would be nice.

What the Conservatives say about that

The Tories want you to buy into the property market (HAHA!), so they’re proposing the rent-to-buy scheme, giving younger people more opportunity to take their first step on to the property ladder. Also, they want to ban housing benefit for childless 18-21 year olds.

What that means

You might have a teeny bit more of a chance of buying a flat. If you can get one of the new social homes being built, and if you can use the seven years – the period that Tories want to give you discounted rent for – to save for your deposit, then you can buy that home at the end of the period. If not, you’ll be turfed out, pronto. 

What do the Liberal Democrats say about that?

Private tenants should be more secure. Rights for renters.

What it means

For private tenants (ie most of us) they’d introduce something called a right of appeal for tenants who are evicted after complaining about their property. They’re trying to tap into The Fear we have about making a fuss when a decent, affordable home is hard to come by.

But, from what we can see, the policy is quite vague and there’s no real gen on how it will actually be enforced, or how the power balance will be properly managed. 

What the Green Party says about that

They’ll control rents and provide additional legal protection for tenants – as well as reforming housing benefits. 

What it means

They want to make sure you won’t be sofa-surfing after being kicked out for late rental payments. Also, if you’re on housing benefit while between jobs or otherwise, new legislation will make aim to stop landlords discriminating against you.  

What UKIP says about that

Increase building on brownfield (land that was previously industrious) sites and control immigration so that ‘British countryside does not have to be destroyed [by new housing builds]’. Scrap bedroom tax and pay housing benefit directly to landlords.

What that means

UKIP believe too many people are taking up too much space and, therefore, immigration controls are the answer to solving the housing crisis. It’s thinly-veiled. Also, if you’re on housing benefit, they don’t quite trust you not to spend it all on wine. 

 

Read More: Ask An Adult: Who Will Win The General Election?

Getting a job is hard too, will you help with that?

What Labour says about that

Every young person should have a job – and women should be paid fairly. Also, companies should stop dicking about with internships that exploit people and divide the middle and working classes. 

What it means

If you can’t afford to be a career-intern (and why should you?), then this is for you. Under Ed, internships would last a maximum of four weeks balancing the class gap emerging in many ‘experience’ based sectors.

Also, they guarantee every 18-24-year-old a job if they’ve been on Jobseeker’s allowance for over a year – and every adult over 25 if you’ve been claiming for two. You have to take the job, no matter what it is, and benefits will be cut if you don’t. 

What the Conservatives say about that

No more zero-hours contracts and under-21s go jobs tax free. Everyone else gets a £2,000 jobs tax cut. 

What it means

Employers won’t have to pay national insurance contributions on top of our salary if we’re under 21. So under-21s will be ‘cheap’ to employ. But no word on what happens if we then get to 21 and find ourselves, having probably been studying for a degree until now anyway, unemployed and more expensive?

What the Liberal Democrats say about that

Raise the national minimum wage and clamp down on zero-hours contracts. They’ve also committed to introducing transparency of pay for large companies, to stamp out the pay gap for women. 

What it means

Increasing the minimum wage is self-explanatory – and we’re always game for attacking the pay gap. Zero-hours contracts will help stop exploitative and insecure jobs on the market, meaning we won’t find ourselves with no rights to hours and therefore no pay/rent/hope – if we manage to get a job at all. 

What the Green Party says about that

Young people should have jobs so they’ve set £5 billion aside to offer 700,000 ‘opportunities’ to the young ’uns. Also, shave two and a half hours off the working week and give it to the weekend. 

What it means

A full-time working week would last 35 hours instead of 37.5 if they had their way. Sounds good, right? But, er, it’s also ten hours per month docked from our pay. Which is probably quite a few glasses of Pinot’s worth. 

What UKIP says about that

Primarily, help the British get jobs. Their policy literally reads ‘businesses should be able to discriminate in favour of young British workers’.

What it means

As a side note on employment, Nigel Farage also wants to banish maternity leave and leave the EU – which, would mean severely weakened employment rights. He has previously said that women who go off work to push a human being out of their bodies are ‘worth less’. 

 

Read More: David Cameron Plans To End Housing Benefits For Anyone Unemployed Aged 18-21

Higher education is important, will you protect it?

What Labour says about that

More people should have the option of going to university – and that means fees should be lowered. But those who choose not to go should have plenty of options, too. 

What it means

Labour wants to make it clear that they haven’t forgotten about ‘the forgotten 50 per cent’ – those who choose not to go to uni. For them, they’re increasing the amount of quality apprenticeships.

For those who stay in education, instead of the soaring capped fees we currently have (£9,000 per year, and counting), Labour would tell all the unis that £6,000 per year is quite sufficient and ban anyone from charging more. It’s still quite a lot though, isn’t it?

What the Conservatives say about that

Universities can charge as much as they want, probably. 

What it means

It’s been whispered that David Cameron plans on removing any sort of cap from tuition fees altogether – meaning there would be no limit to what universities could charge. Alternatively, it’s been said that they might put the cap at £14,000 per year. Helpful. 

What the Lib Dems say about that

It should be easier to get qualifications – and you should be able to move about if you want, too. 

What it means

The Lib Dems are focusing on making degrees easier to come by through flexibility. They want to make the credits we accumulate through a degree more fluid (so we can study part time and/or work part time too) and make it easier to transfer universities if you want to.

They’ve also set aside 200,000 grants for apprenticeships for people who choose to give the rising fees a miss. 

What the Green Party says about that 

Scrap all fees. 

What it means

No student loans, scrap tuition fees, and fund education via the Citizens Income. And while that’s all coming together, they’ll reintroduce student grants (which you won’t be liable to pay back) to fund living costs.  

What UKIP says about that

Scrap all university fees for anyone studying science, maths, technology or medicine. They will also scrap the target of 50 per cent of school leavers going to university.

What it means

Students must live and pay tax for five years after their degree to qualify. The initiative will apparently be paid for by scrapping the 50 per cent target Tony Blair’s Labour set to get more young people into further education and taking the budget from there.

Except, we’ve been more or less at the 50 per cent mark for a couple of years now, so will some young people be denied access to further education to fund subjects which are currently (sadly) lacking in female students? 

 

Read More: We Speak To Labour MP Stella Creasy About Page 3: ‘It’s Never Been About Boobs

We should be doing more to care for the environment right, RIGHT?

What Labour says about that

No more cold homes, please. The cost of living is too high and energy bills need cutting. 

What it means

Energy efficiency is the priority – and specifically making lower income homes more energy efficient, therefore cheaper and better for the environment. Cool (or not, we suppose). 

What the Conservatives say about that

Their buzzword is ‘decarbonisation’.

What it means

They are committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. But while they’re talking the talk, there’s not a lot of evidence that they’re taking steps to achieve this – they’ve stepped away from onshore wind farms that are publically backed and which would dramatically cut emissions.

Although in the interests of fairness, as the biggest party in government for the last five years, we’ve had far more opportunity to measure their what-they-say vs what-they-do ratio than we have with the other parties. 

What the Lib Dems say about that

Homes and travel are green priorities. 

What it means

One-and-a-half million homes will meet ‘almost zero energy’ standards under Lib Dem leadership – which is quite a feat – and they also want to electrify, and therefore make more efficient, all suburban and major rail routes within ten years.

Statutory (legal) targets would also be brought in for cleaner air and fresher water. 

What the Green Party says about that

Change Britain’s energy source and ban factory farming. A vote is (literally) an investment towards a greener future. 

What it means 

There’d be a shift towards even more organic food and animal testing would be totally banned. They also want to shift from fossil-fuelled energy (which increases the carbon footprint) to a renewable energy source and invest more in flood defences to avoid more damage as the weather becomes more erratic.

SIDE NOTE: The Green Party has proposed a 10 per cent cut in train and bus fares, to encourage more public transport and less pollution. 

What UKIP says about that

UKIP will repeal the Climate Change Act 2008, which costs the economy £18bn a year.

What it means

It basically means wind farms are bad and they think that the Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change is a bit silly. They want to ‘shrink’ it. 

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Follow Zoe on Twitter: @zoe_beaty 

Correction: in the section under employment we stated that UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said women who go on maternity leave are 'worthless.' This should have been 'worth less.' We have also been asked by Mr Farage's office to clarify further that in the section regarding UKIP's higher education policy, it is inferred that it is UKIP policy to prevent women going into higher education. Rather, this is the journalist's perception of the impact UKIP policy will have on the number of women in higher education. 

Tags: Pure Politics, General Election 2015