The nation goes to the polls on Thursday 7 May to decide who will run the country, but do you know what’s on offer from each party?
We’ve trawled through the manifestos of Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and UKIP, and summarised their pledges around the key areas that will affect your pocket.
- The cost of housing: buying and renting
- Tax and pay
- Savings and pensions
- Energy bills & the future of energy
- Motoring and car insurance
- Mobile and broadband
House prices have risen significantly in recent years (an average of 10.5% last year), putting home ownership beyond the reach of many, despite mortgage rates falling to all time lows.
Even those with a mortgage are finding it tough, with around a third of people saying they couldn’t handle a rate rise.
So what are the parties promising in their manifestos around housing?
- Expand Help to Buy scheme, including the introduction of Help to Buy ISAs
- Build 200,000 new starter homes in England for first time buyers under the age of 40
- Right to Buy to be extended to 1.3m housing association homes
- Build 200,000 new homes a year by 2020, giving priority to local first time buyers
- Create multi-year tenancies to give renters more security with an inflation ceiling on excessive rent rises
- Ban unfair letting agency fees
- Cut stamp duty for first time buyers on homes worth up to £300,000
- Build 300,000 new energy-efficient homes a year and 10 new Garden Cities along a reopened Oxford-Cambridge railway line
- Create 30,000 Rent to Own homes a year by 2020
- Introduce a new Help to Rent scheme providing government-backed deposit loans for first-time renters under 30
- Introduce longer-term rental tenancy agreements with inflation-linked rent increases
- Give the Bank of England the powers to limit the size of mortgages in relation to the property value and the borrower’s income
- Scrap the Help to Buy scheme and make ‘Buy to Let’ less attractive by removing tax incentives
- Bring 350,000 empty homes into use
- Introduce a ‘living rent’ with five-year fixed tenancies, cap annual rent increases at the rate of inflation, and abolish letting agents’ fees
- Support Right to Buy and pledge 100% of social housing sale revenues back into building more social housing
- Build one million houses on previously developed land and protect the greenbelt
- Limit social housing provision, Right to Buy and Help to Buy to British nationals
For the past few years incomes have not risen as fast as inflation, which has seen people squeeze their savings and turn to borrowing just to get by.
So with this in mind, what are the party manifestos promising when it comes to tax and income?
- No raises in VAT, National Insurance or Income Tax
- Raise the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500, and the 40% tax threshold to £50,000
- Increase the Inheritance Tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1 million
- Reverse the 50% tax cut on earnings over £150,000 and put low-to-middle incomes on a lower 10% tax rate
- No rise in VAT, National Insurance, or basic and higher rates of income tax
- Abolish the ‘Bedroom Tax’ and implement a ‘Mansion Tax’ on all properties worth more than £2 million
- Raise the minimum wage to more than £8 an hour by 2019
- Raise the tax-free personal allowance to at least £12,500
- Implement a ‘Mansion Tax’ on all properties worth more than £2 million
- Increase the minimum wage to the living wage
- Increase the minimum wage to £8.10 in 2015 and £10 by 2020
- Ban zero-hours contracts and set a maximum 35 hour working week
- Implement a 60% tax rate for income over £150,000 a year
- Abolish Inheritance Tax
- Raise the threshold for paying 40% income tax to £55,000
- Introduce a new intermediate tax rate of 30% on incomes between £43,500 and £55,000
Rock-bottom interest rates have left many savings and pensions behind the rate of inflation.
While some current accounts pay as high as 5% AER, and some ISAs up to 2.5% AER, most pay fairly low rates of around 1%.
All parties except the Greens are committed to keeping the ‘triple lock’ on state pensions so they rise by whichever is the highest rate: inflation, earnings or a set rate of 2.5%.
But what else is on the table for savers?
- Protect existing universal pensioner benefits including the free bus pass, free TV licences and the Winter Fuel Payment
- Further tax incentives to encourage savers
- Cut pension tax relief and other benefits for wealthy pensioners with an income over £150,000
- Introduce a single (more generous) rate of tax relief for pensions
- Introduce a citizen’s pension of £180 a week
- Keep the pensioners’ free bus pass and winter fuel allowance
- Increases in free financial advice available to pensioners
- Flexible state-pension window that will widen over time (so you can start drawing from your pension at 65)
Despite a 23% wholesale reduction on the price of fuel, energy bills have remained high, with 10% of some household’s income being spent on energy bills.
So what are the major parties promising in their manifestos to help with energy bills?
- Keep bills as low as possible and promote competition
- Insulate more than 1 million homes during the next parliament
- Implement energy bill freezes until 2017
- Aim to insulate 5 million homes over 10 years
- Back new entrants to the energy market and promote competition
- Aim for a ‘zero carbon’ Britain by 2050
- Pledge to insulate more homes to reduce the numbers of families in fuel poverty
- Phase out fossil fuels and nuclear power as a source of energy
- End green taxes in order to cut fuel bills
Environmental issues about vehicle emissions are at the top of the agenda when it comes to most parties’ motoring policies.
But where do the parties stand on other driving issues such as road repairs, vehicle technology and insurance?
- £15 billion Road Investment Strategy to create 1,300 extra lane miles
- Almost every car and van to be zero emission by 2050, with a £500 million investment over the next 5 years.
- Long-term investment in strategic roads
- Address the neglect of local roads
- Review the MOT process in an effort to cut emissions from existing vehicles
- Reform Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) to introduce separate banding for diesel cars
- Accelerate the commercial introduction of zero-emission electric vehicles and facilitate the UK-wide introduction of hydrogen fuelling infrastructure
- Build a new regulatory framework to encourage the use of driverless and personal electric vehicles
- Aim to reduce the number of journeys made by car and encourage walking, cycling and public transport
- Invest in electric vehicle charging points
- Reduce speed limits to 20mph in residential areas
- Requirement for foreign HGVs to display a ‘BritDisc’ to monitor entry to the UK and contribute towards road costs
- Ensure speed cameras are not used for profit by councils and remove toll roads where possible
- Scrap mandatory installation of telematics devices (eCall) in new cars
- Car tax exemption for cars over 25 years old
All parties have acknowledged that high-speed internet access and mobile phone coverage is an essential resource and should be made available countrywide.
But what exactly are their manifestos promising when it comes to broadband and mobile infrastructure?
- Deliver superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017. Superfast broadband is defined as a service of 30Mbps or above
- Make “superfast-capable satellite services” available to the remaining 5% of the country and “the very hardest to reach areas”
- Bring ultrafast broadband (a service with a connection speed of 100Mbps or above) to “nearly all UK premises as soon as practicable”
- Ensure mobile phone operators uphold pledge to provide 90% voice and SMS coverage by 2017
- Lay foundations for 5G networks to ensure Britain is a “world leader” in next-generation mobile internet
- Ensure that the whole country gets affordable high-speed broadband by 2020
- Work with suppliers and regulators to deliver mobile internet infrastructure that addresses ‘not spots’ and areas where the market has failed to provide coverage
- Complete the roll-out of high-speed broadband to reach “almost every household (99.9%) in the UK” as well as “small businesses in both rural and urban areas”
- Compel broadband providers to supply all small businesses and households with ‘affordable high speed broadband’