The Conservative Party conference, which lasted from September 28 to October 1 in Birmingham’s ICC centre, ended with David Cameron stating ‘If you put in, you should get out’. There was some focus on youth unemployment, with Osborne promising to freeze working age benefits for 2 years in an attempt to ‘spend less on benefits […]
The Conservative Party conference, which lasted from September 28 to October 1 in Birmingham’s ICC centre, ended with David Cameron stating ‘If you put in, you should get out’.
There was some focus on youth unemployment, with Osborne promising to freeze working age benefits for 2 years in an attempt to ‘spend less on benefits and more on helping young people get jobs’. Similarly to this is Cameron’s scheme to lower the benefits cap to £23,000 and use the savings to fund 3 million new apprenticeships for young people, also stating that those aged 18 to 21 who fail to find work within 6 months will have their job seekers allowance removed. He stated, ‘we have a choice between paying our young people for a life on the dole or giving them the keys to a life of opportunity’.
There was no mention of policies that relate to graduates or those in further education, with attention focused on the working youth, arguing that apprenticeships pull people out of poverty and into a “better life”, according to Osborne. He went on to state, ‘There are still too many young people who have fallen into a culture of welfare dependency and a life on the dole’.
The other focus for the Conservatives was a promise of sweeping tax cuts. George Osborne led the conference with the abolition of the ‘Death Tax’, a 55% tax on pension inheritance. David Cameron then pledged more tax cuts, raising the income tax threshold to £12,500, meaning anyone working full time on minimum wage will pay no income tax, and raising the higher rate to £50,000. Under this system, 30 million people will benefit, and 1 million people will have to pay ‘nothing, zero, zilch’.
Cameron focused on the NHS, stating that Labour was speaking the ‘same old rubbish’ about Conservative policy, pledging that everyone in Britain will be able to see their GP ‘7 days a week’, after which Jeremy Hunt promised to train 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 to cover the strain. Additionally, David Cameron promised to ring-fence the NHS budget, alongside consistent budget increases over 2015 to 2020. There was no explanation regarding funding provisions. Additionally, no comment was made regarding the continued ring-fencing of the education budget at a time when the Conservatives have refused to rule out raising tuition fees again in 2015, leading many to believe that this will be the next sector to face cuts.
In a move similar to The Labour Party, Eric Pickles promised 100,000 new homes under their Help to Buy and Right to Buy schemes. These homes will be available to first buyers, and will be sold at 20% of the market rate in a clear build to help young people in entering the property market.
Theresa May, Home Secretary, also pledged to introduce ‘EXDOs’, Extremism Disruption Orders, which would stop people who have incited hatred or extremism from speaking in public places. This scheme would be very similar to ASBOs, introduced in the previous Labour Government.
Other policies put forward were designed to ensure that only English MPs could vote on English laws, which would include all education and health matters. Cameron promised to renegotiate the freedom of movement laws within the EU and to scrap the Human Rights Act (1998) and replace it with a Bill of Rights. In addition, May has also put forward plans for a ‘Communications Data Act’, which would require companies to hold onto certain internet data. This would then be easily be accessible by the Government if they want to observe a person’s internet browsing history.
After the conference had finished, the Lord Ashcroft Poll predicted that Labour will win a ‘comfortable majority’ as their swing had increased in key marginal constituencies whereas YouGov has put the Conservatives at 35% in the popular poll, 1 point ahead of Labour, who were on 34%.