Policies roundup: 3 March 2015

3 March 2015

Conservatives

On Monday 2 March, Prime Minister David Cameron set out his party’s stall for younger voters by promising to expand a programme providing discounts on starter homes for first-time buyers under 40.

Mr Cameron pledged to provide 200,000 such homes by 2020, which represents a doubling of the planned count. This scheme would be partly funded by using brownfield land, waiving local authority fees and permitting developers to count the homes constructed as affordable housing.

Elsewhere, the Times has reported on Conservative opposition to Liberal Democrat approval for new onshore wind farms – Coalition tensions highlighting the party’s plans to oppose additional use of this form of energy generation.

Labour 

This week, Labour finally made good on rumours that it would promise to reduce university tuition fees. Following extensive speculation, Labour Leader Ed Miliband announced on Friday that, if returned to power, his party would cut fees to £6,000 per annum from autumn 2016.

He attacked the “betrayal of an entire generation” perpetrated by the Coalition in raising the fees to £9,000, and explained that the new policy would be funded through a reduction in tax relief on pensions for those earning more than £150,000 a year.

Prime Minister’s Questions this week was dominated by the row over MPs’ second jobs created after two high-profile MPs, one Conservative and one Labour, were caught in a journalistic sting offering to use their influence on behalf of commercial interests. Accordingly, Labour tabled an Opposition Day debate demanding that MPs be banned from holding paid directorships and consultancies, and pressed the Prime Minister for agreement on the issue on Wednesday lunchtime.

Elsewhere, Mr Miliband also unveiled some pledges on the arts in education, promising that a future Labour administration would widen access to the arts, and would place requirements on Ofsted to put a greater emphasis on creative subjects and “cultural opportunities” in school inspections.

The creative industries and arts institutions would also be encouraged to offer more apprenticeships, “in return for direct grants or major Government contracts”.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has highlighted Labour’s plans for vulnerable witnesses to crimes, which would permit the reporting of crimes in locations other than policy stations, and new powers to prevent excessive cross-examination in court. 

Liberal Democrats

This week, the Liberal Democrats highlighted their desire to impose an additional £1bn levy on banks to help pay off the deficit. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is said to be requesting the inclusion of the plan, which would effectively remove the benefits of recent cuts to Corporation Tax, in the upcoming Budget. Should this effort be rebuffed, the plan will form part of his party’s General Election manifesto.

A Health Service Journal interview with Liberal Democrat Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb, meanwhile, produced commentary from this leading party figure on his desire to create a new, single “department for health and care” that could integrate provision and harmonise funding streams. According to the HSJ, this policy is being considered for the party’s manifesto.

Elsewhere, responding to Labour’s pledge to reduce tuition fees, Energy Secretary Ed Davey called it “stupid” and said that he would refuse to back it should he form part of a future Government.

And the Financial Times reported on Sunday that Business Secretary Vince Cable was set to become “the figurehead of opposition to building a third runway at Heathrow airport”, “sharply [raising] the profile of the Lib Dems’ anti-Heathrow policy”.

Anna Haswell, Senior Political Analyst and Content Marketer
Anna Haswell
Senior Political Analyst and Content Marketer

As Senior Political Analyst at DeHavilland, Anna Haswell leads on financial services policy, as well as covering media issues. In her capacity as Content Marketer, she is also responsible for DeHavilland's briefings and analysis output, working across teams to ensure relevant messages reach current and prospective clients alike. She is a graduate of the University of Oxford and Goldsmiths, University of London.