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Lib Dem manifesto ABI summary

Key campaign issues for the Liberal Democrats are taxation, childcare, the NHS and mental health, education and climate change. Central pledges which are likely to form red lines in any coalition negotiations include increasing the tax-free allowance to £12,500, investing an extra £8 billion a year in the NHS by 2020 and the introduction of five new laws around climate change and the environment.

Front page pledges

  • Prosperity for all - Balance the budget fairly and invest to build a high-skill, low-carbon economy
  • Opportunity for every child - Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class
  • Fair taxes - Cut your taxes by an additional £400 by raising the Personal Allowance to £12,500
  • Our environment protected - Protect nature and fight climate change with five green laws
  • Quality health care for all - Invest £8 billion to improve our NHS and guarantee equal care for mental health

Economy

  • Eradicate the structural current budget deficit by 2017 / 18 and have debt falling as a percentage of national income
  • Increase public spending again in line with the economy once the budget is balanced
  • Plans do not require any increase in the headline rates of Income Tax, National Insurance, VAT or Corporation Tax

Tax

  • Targeted green taxes to discourage pollution and reward sustainability
  • Raise Personal Allowance to £12,500 by end of Parliament
  • Bring forward the planned increase to an £11,000 allowance to April 2016
  • Continue the Banking Levy and introduce a time-limited supplementary Corporation Tax charge on the banking sector
  • Introduce a UK-wide High Value Property Levy on residential properties worth over £2 million
  • Continue to reform business tax to ensure it stays competitive, and complete the ongoing review of business rates making small and medium-sized enterprises the priority for any business tax cuts. Work to adjust the tax system away from subsidy of high leverage debt and tackle the bias against equity investment
  • Reforms to Capital Gains Tax and Dividend Tax relief and refocusing Entrepreneurs’ Relief
  • Set a target for HM Revenue and Customs to reduce the tax gap
  • Introduce a general anti-avoidance rule which would outlaw contrived structures designed purely or largely to avoid tax
  • Levying penalties on firms proven to facilitate tax evasion, equivalent to the amount of tax evaded by their clients
  • Implementing the planned new offence of corporate failure to prevent economic crime, including tax evasion, with penalties for directors up to and including custodial sentences
  • Ask the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee to consider the approach to paying tax taken by banks for themselves, their employees and for their customers, as part of their assessment of the risks posed by the sector, supported by an annual report by HMRC
  • Restrict access to non-domiciled status, increasing the charges paid to adopt this status and ending the ability to inherit it

Retirement

  • Withdraw eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment and free TV Licence from pensioners who pay tax at 40%. Retain the free bus pass for all pensioners
  • Continue the introduction of single tier pension
  • Legislate for the ‘triple lock’ of increasing the State Pension each year by the highest of earnings growth, prices growth or 2.5%
  • Improve workplace pensions and continue to auto-enrol workers, completing the rollout of this scheme in full and on time
  • Crack down on charges and encourage people to save more into their pension pot through automatic enrolment
  • Press ahead with plans to allow people more freedom in the use of their pension pots and to allow existing pensioners to sell their annuity
  • Establish a review to consider the case for, and practical implications of, introducing a single rate of tax relief for pensions, which would be designed to be simpler and fairer and which would be set more generously than the current 20% basic rate relief
  • Remain committed to introducing Land Value Tax, which would replace Business Rates in the longer term

Business / finance

  • Continue to open up public procurement to small and medium-sized companies and to the voluntary sector
  • Develop platforms on which government can provide feedback on its suppliers to help quality providers to grow
  • Continue the Regional Growth Fund
  • Expand the British Business Bank to perform a more central role in the economy
  • Complete implementation of the new rules to separate retail banking from investment banking
  • Encourage the growth of crowdfunding and alternative finance models, encouraging Local Authorities to use these platforms to improve credit access in their areas
  • Promote a new community banking sector to support small and medium-sized enterprises and social enterprises
  • Change company law to permit a German-style two-tier board structure to include employees

Employment

  • Ensure swift implementation of the new rules requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish details of the different pay levels of men and women in their organisation
  • By 2020, extend transparency requirements to include publishing the number of people paid less than the Living Wage and the ratio between top and median pay
  • Consult on requirements for companies to conduct and publish a full equality pay review, and to consult staff on executive pay
  • Ask the Low Pay Commission to look at ways of raising the National Minimum Wage, without damaging employment opportunities
  • Establish an independent review to consult on how to set a fair Living Wage across all sectors
  • Will pay Living Wage in all central government departments and their agencies from April 2016, and encourage other public sector employers to do likewise
  • Improve the enforcement of employment rights, reviewing Employment Tribunal fees
  • Create a formal right to request a fixed contract and consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time
 Health & Social Care
  • Continue real-terms protection of the NHS budget – with a £1 billion in addition to this protection. Funding in England will be at least £8 billion higher a year in real terms by 2020
  • Join up health and care at national level, shifting full responsibility for care policy and funding to the Department of Health
  • Will commission a non-partisan Fundamental Review of NHS and social care funding this year
  • Finish the job of implementing the Dilnot Report proposals for a cap on the cost of social care
  • Support good practice among employers in promoting wellbeing and ensure people with mental health problems get the help they need to stay in or find work
  • Establish a world-leading mental health research fund, investing £50m to further our understanding of mental illness and develop more effective treatments
  • Continue to support the Time to Change programme
  • Secure local agreement on full pooling of budgets between the NHS and care services with a target date of 2018, consulting on a legal duty for this
  • Continue to develop Health and Wellbeing Boards to take a broad view of how services can improve wellbeing in their area, ensuring democratic accountability for local care
  • Combine the public health, adult social care and health outcome frameworks into a single national wellbeing outcomes framework to ensure the NHS and local government work together towards common goals
  • Work with Monitor to reform NHS funding systems, moving away from payments for activity to tariffs that encourage joined-up services and preventive care
  • Committed to repealing any parts of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 which make NHS services open to privatisation through international agreements
  • End the role of the Competition and Markets Authority in health
  • Ensure targets in the NHS are evidence-based and do not distort clinical priorities
  • Introduce an annual Carer’s Bonus of £250 for carers looking after someone for 35 hours or more each week
  • Work to raise the amount you can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £110 to £150 a week
  • Consult on introducing five days’ paid additional ‘care leave’ a year for carers who qualify for the Carer’s Allowance
  • Give the NHS a legal duty to identify carers and develop a Carer’s Passport scheme to inform carers of their rights in the NHS, like more flexible visiting hours, assert their role as expert partners in care and gain access to support
  • Provide more choice at the end of life, and free end-of-life social care for those placed on their local end-of-life register if evidence shows it is affordable and cost effective
  • Raise the professional status and training of care home managers through statutory licensing
  • Ensure those who work in the care sector are properly trained and suitable to practice by introducing a statutory code of conduct backed up by a care workers’ suitability register

Welfare

  • Deliver a reformed and improved Work Programme in partnership with English local government, and the national governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Review sanctions procedures in Jobcentres
  • Introduce a 1% cap on the uprating of working-age benefits until the budget is balanced in 2017/18, after which they will rise with inflation once again. Disability and parental leave benefits will be exempt from this temporary cap
  • Encourage landlords to lower their rent by paying them Housing Benefit directly, with tenants’ consent, in return for a fixed reduction
  • Review the way the Shared Accommodation Rate in Local Housing Allowance is set, and review the Broad Rental Market Areas to ensure they fit with realistic travel patterns
  • Conduct a review of the Work Capability Assessment and Personal Independence Payment assessments
  • Reform the policy to remove the spare room subsidy

Government / departmental spending

  • Limit reductions in departmental spending to less than half the rate agreed for 2015/16
  • Continue to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on international development aid
  • Aim to double innovation and research spending across the economy
  • Continue to ringfence the science budget and ensure that, by 2020, both capital and revenue spending have increased at least in line with inflation
  • Strengthen the role of MPs in amending the Budget and scrutinising government spending proposals

Childcare

  • Expand Shared Parental Leave with a ‘use it or lose it’ month for fathers, and introduce a right to paid leave for carers
  • 20 hours’ free childcare a week for all parents with children aged from two to four-years, and all working parents from the end of paid parental leave (nine months) to two years
  • Roll out Universal Credit, and invest in back-to-work and healthcare support for those who need it
  • Complete the introduction of Tax-Free Childcare

Environmental / climate change

  • Prepare a national resilience plan to help the UK economy, national infrastructure and natural resources adapt to the likely impacts of a 3-4 degree global average temperature rise
  • Work with local government to review the governance of flood risk and land drainage, including the role of Internal Drainage Boards, and introduce high standards for flood resilience for buildings and infrastructure in flood risk areas
  • Set up a commission to research back-to-nature flood prevention schemes, including the role of habitats such as upland bogs and moors, woodlands, wetlands and species-rich grasslands in absorbing and holding water
  • Implement programmes to help farmers and other land users adapt to climate change impacts including protecting soil and forest carbon sinks, encouraging planting in uplands and restoring flood plains
  • Review the system of approvals required by landowners to repair existing flood protection measures on their land 
  • Increase the uptake of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems to maximise value for money for the taxpayer - will consult on the best ways to finance this
  • Update construction and planning standards to futureproof buildings against higher summer temperatures
  • Expand the Green Investment Bank and set a legally binding decarbonisation target to green Britain’s electricity
  • Increase the proportion of tax revenue accounted for by green taxes
  • Grow the market for green products and services with steadily higher green criteria in public procurement policy, extending procurement requirements more widely through the public sector including to the NHS and Academy schools
  • Create an Office for Environmental Responsibility scrutinising the government’s efforts to meet its environmental targets
  • Stimulate a minimum of £100 billion more private investment in low-carbon energy infrastructure by 2020
  • Regulate to end the use of unabated coal in electricity generation by 2025
  • End ideologically motivated interference in local planning decisions for wind farms by Government Ministers
  • Aim for at least 30% of the household market to be supplied by competitors to the ‘Big 6’ by 2020
  • Establish a Low-carbon Transition Fund using 50% of any tax revenues from shale gas to fund energy efficiency, community energy, low-carbon innovation and renewable heat

Five green laws

Nature Bill

  • Placing the Natural Capital Committee on a statutory footing
  • A requirement for government to set out a 25-year plan for recovering nature, with annual updates to Parliament, including how to reverse the decline of UK species and their habitats and ensure that bees and other insects are able to fulfil their important role as crop pollinators
  • The introduction of a new Public Sector Sustainability Duty, requiring steadily higher green criteria in public procurement policy, and placing requirements on public authorities to act in a sustainable manner
  • Implementation of the findings of the Independent Panel on Forestry, creating a new public body, free from political interference and securely funded, to own and manage the national forests
  • The formation of a one million square kilometre southern Atlantic Ocean reserve

A Resource Efficiency and Zero Waste Bill

  • Implementation of recommendations from planned ‘Stern Report’ on resource efficiency, which the Natural Capital Committee will conduct
  • Increased penalties for waste crimes, aiming to move from an average fine of £50,000 to £75,000 and to an average sentence of 12 to 18 months
  • A statutory recycling target of 70% for waste in England
  • Regulation to promote design that enhances repairability, reuse and recycling, requiring specified products to be sold with parts and labour guarantees for at least five years

A Green Transport Bill

  • A statutory target of 2030 by which time all major, regularly used rail routes will need to be electrified
  • A requirement that every new bus and taxi is Ultra Low Emission from 2030 and every car on the road meets that standard by 2040
  • The creation of Low Emission Zones as part of a national air quality plan, including a legal requirement for the most polluted towns and cities
  • Updates to roads regulation to promote innovation in transport like driverless cars and personal electric vehicles

A Zero Carbon Britain Bill

  • A new legally-binding target for Zero Carbon Britain by 2050, to be monitored and audited by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).
  • A 2030 power sector decarbonisation target of 50-100g per kWh, as recommended by the CCC
  •  Emission Performance Standards for existing coal power stations, designed to ensure electricity generation from unabated coal will stop by 2025
  • Giving full borrowing powers to the Green Investment Bank, to boost further investment in low-carbon technologies

A Green Buildings Bill

  • A Council Tax discount for significant improvements in energy efficiency in homes. Ambitious targets for all social and private rented homes to reach Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2027
  • A statutory target to bring the homes of all fuel-poor households to Band C by 2027.
  • A new legal framework to require regulators to facilitate the development of deep geothermal heat, largescale heat pumps, waste industrial heat and energy storage systems.
  • New powers for government to introduce new energy efficiency and heat saving regulations to reduce heat and energy use.

Education

  • Extend the current UK budget protection for education to include early years and 16-19 provision
  • Aim to eradicate child illiteracy and innumeracy by 2025
  • Increase the early years pupil premium to £1,000 per pupil per year
  • Guarantee all teachers in state-funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards Qualified Teacher Status  from September 2016
  • Establish an independent Educational Standards Authority (ESA) entirely removed from Ministerial interference. The ESA will have responsibility for curriculum content and examination standards
  • Increase the number of apprenticeships and improve their quality, extending the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers for the remainder of the next Parliament, delivering 200,000 grants to employers and expanding the number of degree-equivalent Higher Apprenticeships
  • Aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices

Transport / Infrastructure

  • Set out 10-year rolling capital investment plans
  • Develop a comprehensive plan to electrify the overwhelming majority of the UK rail network, reopen smaller stations, restore twin-track lines to major routes and proceed with HS2
  • Deliver the Transport for the North strategy
  • Develop more modern, resilient links to and within the South West peninsula
  • Complete East-West rail
  • Ensure London’s transport infrastructure is improved
  • Remain opposed to any expansion of Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick and any new airport in the Thames Estuary and will ensure no net increase in runways across the UK
  • Complete the rollout of high-speed broadband, to reach almost every household (99.9%) in the UK

Justice

  • Freedoms Act will have embedding citizens’ rights to freedom of speech and protest
  • Retain access to recoverable success fees and insurance premiums in asbestosis claims and where an individual is suing the police; and also for both claimant and defendant in publication and data protection claims, except where one party is significantly better resourced than the other
  • Reduce pressure on the criminal Legal Aid budget by requiring company directors to take out insurance against prosecution for fraud and permitting the use of restrained assets to pay reasonable legal bills
  • Review the criminal Legal Aid market and ensure there are no further savings without an impact assessment as to the viability of a competitive and diverse market of Legal Aid providers
  • Protect the Human Rights Act and enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in UK law
  • Block any further attempts to limit the right to trial by jury
  • Support innovation like the provision of civil justice online and expansion of alternative dispute resolution procedures
  • Carry out an immediate review of civil Legal Aid, judicial review and court fees, in consultation with the judiciary, to ensure Legal Aid is available to all those who need it, that those of modest means

Devolution

  • Devolve more economic decision-making to local areas, building on the City Deals and Growth Deals, prioritising the transfer of transport, housing and infrastructure funding, skills training and back-to-work support
  • Deliver Home Rule for Scotland by implementing the Smith Commission proposals in full in the first session of the next Parliament
  • Implement the St Davids day announcement in full, devolving powers over energy, ports, local elections, broadcasting and more, and implementing a reserved powers model and implemen the remaining Silk Part 1 proposals on financial powers for Wales
  • Implementing Silk Commission Part 1 and 2
  • Keeping under review the prospect of further devolution of fiscal powers to the Northern Ireland
  • Consider an English only stage in parliament
  • Reduce the powers of Ministers to interfere in democratically elected local government

Housing

  • At least ten new Garden Cities in England
  • Up to five major new settlements along a Garden Cities Railway between Oxford and Cambridge
  • A review of Compulsory Purchase legislation to facilitate site assembly, including for Garden Cities
  • A government commissioning programme to boost house building towards a 300,000 target
  • A new government-backed Housing Investment Bank to provide long-term capital for major new settlements and help attract finance for major house building projects
  • Put Local Authorities in the driving seat for plan-led development by requiring them to make a plan for 15 years of housing need, working collaboratively with neighbouring Councils where necessary to identify sites
  • Create a Community Right of Appeal in cases where planning decisions go against the approved local plan, or a Local Plan that is emerging and has undergone substantive consultation
  • Not allow developers’ appeals against planning decisions that are in line with the local plan
  • Not allow planning appeals solely on the basis of challenges to the 15-year master plan
  • Require Local Authorities to keep a register of people who want a self-build plot in the local area and plan to meet demand for these plots
  • Update planning law to introduce the concept of ‘landscape scale planning’ and ensure new developments promote walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport and improve rather than diminish access to green spaces
  • Prioritise development on brownfield and town centre sites and bring to an end the permitted development rights for converting offices to residential
  • Introduce a new Intermediate Housing Fund to fund intermediate housing products, including:
    • Affordable Rent homes, at up to 80% of local market rent
    • Shared Ownership homes, where customers buy a proportion of the home and pay an affordable rent for the rest
  • A new Rent to Own model where monthly payments steadily accrue the tenant a percentage stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years
  • New build shared accommodation at the local LHA Shared Accommodation Rate

Data

  • Pass a Digital Bill of Rights, to define and enshrine the digital rights of the citizen
  • Continue opposition the introduction of the Communications Data Bill
  • Continue to provide the appropriate resources to the police and intelligence agencies to meet the threat of terrorism, including of cyber attack
  • Require the highest standards of data protection by public service providers, including requiring that where data is used for research purposes it must be anonymised wherever possible, and impose a moratorium on the creation of new government databases without Parliamentary authority

Consumer Issues

  • Force energy companies to allow customers to change to any cheaper supplier in just 24 hours, and extend the principle of ‘gainer led’ switching, where your new provider organises your switch for you, into new sectors, including telecoms
  • Ensure rail fares rise no faster than inflation over the Parliament as a whole
  • Continue and expand the midata project into new sectors, giving consumers the right to access data businesses hold on them in an open and reusable format
  • Improve consumer protections in public services, with a review of complaints handling processes, exploring the options of mirroring the private sector ‘super-complaint’ system in the public sector and reforms to the current system of ombudsmen
  • Extend Freedom of Information laws to cover private companies delivering public services

Police / Crime

  • Replace Police and Crime Commissioners with Police Boards made up of Councillors from across the force area
  • Explore the case for transferring responsibility for more serious national crime to the National Crime Agency
  • Enact a Victims’ Bill of Rights
  • Implement the Modern Slavery Strategy
  • Protect funding for tackling violence against women and girls
  • Create a national helpline for victims of domestic and sexual violence
  • Prioritise prison for dangerous offenders and those who commit the most serious offences with increased use of tough noncustodial punishments including weekend or evening custody, curfews, unpaid work in the community and GPS tagging
  • Extend the role of the Youth Justice Board to all offenders aged under 21
  • Pilot US-style drug and alcohol courts
  • Legislate to end the use of imprisonment for possession of drugs for personal use, diverting resources towards tackling organised drug crime instead
  • Put the Department of Health rather than the Home Office in charge of drug policy

Immigration

  • Speed up the processing of asylum claims
  • Separate students within official immigration statistics

Politics

  • Cap donations to political parties at £10,000 per person each year, and introduce wider reforms to party funding
  • Introduce votes at age 16 for elections and referendums across the UK
  • Reform the House of Lords with a proper democratic mandate, starting from the proposals in the 2012 Bill
  • Reform voting systems for elections to local government and Westminster to ensure more proportional representation
  • Cancel the boundary review due to report in 2018
  • Strengthen and expand the lobbying register and prohibit MPs from accepting paid lobbying work

Europe / Foreign policy

  • Remain a committed member of the EU
  • Hold an In/Out referendum when there is next any Treaty change involving a material transfer of sovereignty from the UK to the EU
  • Work to deepen the EU single market in the energy sector, in the digital economy and for services
  • Work to reform the EU to make it more efficient, reducing the proportion of the EU budget spent on the Common Agricultural Policy, abolishing unnecessary EU institutions
  • Continue pushing for a 50% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and the greater use of EU funds to support low-carbon investments, while ensuring the UK meets its own climate commitments and plays a leadership role in efforts to combat climate change
  • Support the UN principle of Responsibility to Protect
  • Support the moderate opposition in Syria, who are fighting both President Bashar al-Assad and IS
  • Remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes a two-state solution
  • Support multilateral negotiations to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons
  • Continue to work with international partners – Western, African and Arab – to tackle Islamic fanaticism embodied by organisations like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria

Defence

  • Step down the nuclear ladder by procuring fewer Vanguard successor submarines and moving from continuous at sea deterrence to a contingency posture of regular patrols
  • Work for new global standards to end the use of conventional explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas
  • Promote European defence integration where appropriate by enhancing European defence industry co-operation
  • Propose that employers be required to offer two weeks’ unpaid leave annually to assist Reserves attending training camps

Last updated 01/07/2016