Labour Party proposes £8 minimum wage by 2020 and aims to help young people in getting on to the property market.
The Labour Party Conference, one of the largest and most scrutinized political events in Europe, took place in Manchester last week, revealing a list of intended pledges the party aims to carry out if they achieve a successful majority in the May 2015 elections.
The conference saw a larger general appeal to voters than the tactics used over the past few years, outlining a ‘six-point plan’, aiming to overcome ‘the greatest challenges to our ages and transform the ethics of how Britain is run’ (Ed Miliband). The conference focused primarily on the NHS (aiming to build ‘a first class, 21st century health and care service’), with the intention to grant everyone the ability to see their GP within 48 hours, repealing the controversial Health and Social Care Act, which came into force in 2012.
Amongst other principal pledges, was the promise to raise and reinforce the National Minimum Wage to at least £8 an hour by 2020, stating that ‘the proportion of UK workers who are low-paid is one of the worst in the developed world’. They also claimed that they would fine companies who fail to pay the minimum annual wage, incentivising companies to ensure they pay at least £50,000. This was viewed as a clear and positive step to assist students and low-wage earners, helping them increase their standard of living over the duration of the next term.
In addition to this, the party stated that they would like to see an equal number of students take up skilled and well-paid apprenticeships to the students who choose academia, ‘giving all young people a shot in life’. They argue that this would not only aid students, who would develop alternative skills, but would also be of use to big businesses who could benefit from the increase in trained and capable young workers. In conjunction with this, Labour would open thousands of apprenticeships in the public sector, aimed at students who have just left university, or as an alternative to higher education(lowering the average age of current apprenticeship schemes). Their aim is to attract a wider variety of schemes from countries outside of the EU, making it easier for young people to embark on international travel as part of the work.
The party have also proposed a plan in order to support young people in getting onto the property market, aiming to build at least one million affordable homes before 2020, a move that has the potential to be particularly appealing to graduating students in search of affordable housing. As outlined in the six-point plan, they state that they aim to ‘restore the dream of home ownership’.
This conference saw a different variety of tactics used than in previous conferences. In 2012, Miliband promised to freeze energy prices from the ‘Big Six’ energy companies until 2017. This was to help low-income houses and students who struggle against the rising cost of energy every year. Additionally, Labour has previously promised to reduce university tuition fees to £6,000 a year.
With the prospect of greater housing and more diversity in higher education, the policies proposed by the parties may appeal to student voters. Nevertheless this is the beginning of the parties’ fight for dominance over the next eight months in the run up to the General Election.