There are just a few weeks to go until the general election and we’ve been busy scrutinising the party manifestos to find the most important pledges affecting your finances.
Today, we turn to the Scottish National Party, Green Party and Brexit Party to reveal the highlights of their money offers to voters.
Election pledges: Nigel Farage launches his Contract with the People in London; Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, deputy leader Amelia Womack and co-leader Sian Berry unveil their manifesto at the London Wetlands Centre; and Nicola Sturgeon reveals her offer to the Scottish people in Glasgow
SNP: Guaranteed access to cash, free TV licences for over-75s, and more free childcare hours
1. The SNP wants control over National Insurance devolved to Scotland, so it can make its own decisions on payments affecting employers’ ability to create new jobs.
On pensions, it says it will protect the triple lock – ensuring the state pension rises by a minimum of 2.5 per cent every year – oppose any increase in the state pension age, and carry on supporting the WASPI campaign for women hit by the age rise from 60 to 65.
It also comes down on the side of the BBC over free TV licences for the over-75s, demanding that the government fully funds this perk.
‘To prevent the UK government from short-changing pensioners in the future, licence fees should be set independently of the UK government,’ it adds.
2. Under the heading of ‘protecting consumers’, the SNP says it will try to ensure there is no return of mobile roaming charges for travellers in EU countries, and calls for the cap on payday loan charges to be lowered further from the current 0.8 per cent a day, including fees.
It also wants credit card interest rates to be capped, and will push for consumers to stop being short-changed over lost gift-card money.
The SNP says it will stand up for citizens’ rights to access cash, and demand the government guarantees this and forces banks to pay more to the Post Office when they leave it as the last branch in town.
3. The SNP wants to ramp up free hours of childcare funding in Scotland from 16 hours a week to 30 hours for three and four year olds.
The offer is also available to parents with two year olds on earn low incomes. The party says this will double spending to £990million, and save families more than £4,500 per year.
The SNP also has ambitions to create 600 new early learning and childcare centres and recruit 11,000 new childcare staff by 2020.
According to reports, the SNP maintains childcare plans are ‘on target’ but other parties have claimed that vulnerable toddlers are missing out on free childcare places and that nurseries aren’t ready for the 30 hours a week expansion.
4. The party is offering a support service for small and medium sized businesses, to help firms navigate ‘Westminster’s Brexit mess’, which they say has resulted in the Scottish economy being £3billion smaller than it would have otherwise.
It will back a rise in the National Insurance discount businesses receive – the Employment Allowance – when they add staff, and support the introduction of legal protections to ensure small businesses are paid on time.
Who will win the election battle for the future of our finances?
One of the biggest election issues is the battle over the economy and our personal finances – and there’s a sizeable difference between Labour’s tax and spending plans for Britain and those of the Tories.
So what do all the election promises and plans mean for you?
On this podcast we dig into the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestos to find out.
Universal basic income: The Greens would provide an ‘unconditional’ payment of £89 a week to all UK adults regardless of whether they are in work or not
Green Party: A flat tax, an £89 a week basic income for all, and zero emissions by 2030
1. A £100billion-a-year Green New Deal, the introduction of universal basic income, and a radical tax overhaul form the core of the manifesto.
The New Deal encompasses changes to energy use, housing and transport, with the aim of creating millions of new jobs and getting the UK on track to reduce climate emissions to net zero by 2030.
Universal basic income would provide an ‘unconditional’ payment of £89 a week to all UK adults regardless of whether they are in work or not and replace most income related benefits by 2025.
Pensioners would receive £178 a week – so above the current full state pension rate of £168.60 – and supplements would be available for disabled people, lone parents, lone pensioners, and families with children.
Meanwhile, the Greens would merge income tax, National Insurance, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and dividend tax into a single ‘consolidated income tax’, which they estimate would raise an extra £20billion extra per year from taxpayers.
The idea is to tax all income, from whatever source, at the same rate – but the big unanswered question is what this would be set at, because too high and you whack lower earners, and too low and the rich will be quids in.
However, the Greens say that universal basic income would replace the income tax threshold.
The party would also scrap the popular 25 per cent tax-free pension lump sum and cap such withdrawals at £40,000, a real blow to people who have saved large retirement pots. Corporation tax would be hiked from 19 per cent to 24 per cent.
Altogether, the Greens propose extra operational spending of £141.5billion, paid for by tax reforms and savings measures, and £94.4 billion of capital spending, raised through government borrowing.
Student debt: Brexit Party would abolish interest on loans, while Greens would write off all existing debt since fees were hiked to £9k
2. While Labour pledges to abolish student tuition fees, the Green Party goes one step further and states it will write off existing debt for those who have been to university since fees were trebled to £9,000.
There hasn’t been any recent research on how much this would cost.
But back in 2017 when the issue of abolishing outstanding student debt previously cropped up, the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated that the value of total outstanding student debt since 2012 was £34billion, and that it would cost about £20billion by 2050.
3. The Greens would abolish council tax and business rates, replacing them with a ‘land value tax’. This would also absorb a raft of other taxes, including capital gains tax on land sales and inheritance tax on land.
The LVT would charge the landowner a proportion of the capital value of the land each year – estimated to be around 1.4 per cent of current values.
Small businesses would get free energy efficiency training, and access to lending at affordable rates via a network of regional mutual banks.
4. The Greens’ manifesto reveals plans to build 100,000 new energy efficient council homes each year, and promises to improve insulation for every UK home by 2030.
It also pledges to ensure that all eight million rented homes are A-rated for energy efficiency, to give councils the power to set their own housing targets, and introduce rent controls on private tenants, though the party was not specific on how these rent controls would be set.
Free broadband: Brexit Party wants a base level service provided to deprived regions
Brexit Party: Scrap inheritance tax, relieve student debt, and make broadband free in deprived regions
1. Declaring ‘manifesto’ a dirty word, the Brexit Party instead offers a Contract with the People, which it bills as a targeted set of deliverable pledges.
The party says it would review universal credit, abolish inheritance tax, cut VAT on fuel bills, scrap the HS2 train project, and invest £50billion in road and rail schemes in development-starved regions.
It adds that a clean-break Brexit would allow it to reduce import tariffs to zero on certain foods, footwear and clothing.
2. Apart from Labour and the Greens, it is the Brexit Party which comes through with the most cast-iron pledge on student debt.
While it doesn’t go as far as those two, it does say it will abolish the interest on student loans, which currently costs students up to 3 per cent on top of the Retail Prices Index of inflation.
3. The Brexit Party would shake up corporation tax, implementing a zero rate on for the first £10,000 of pre-tax profits – a big boost for thousands of smaller companies at a cost of £5.1billion per year.
It also promises to replace business rates with a simpler system, overhaul financial services regulation, cut red tape, increase competition and boost lending to small and medium-sized firms.
4. In partnership with service providers, the party would offer free ‘base level’ domestic broadband in deprived regions and free wi-fi on all public transport.
The provision of broadband could be tricky, however, as some areas are unable to access even base level speeds due to their location, and much more infrastructure would need to be put in place to deliver on this promise.
The Brexit Party would also cancel the BBC TV licence fee, which currently stands at £154.50 a year, but does not say what would replace the current system for funding public service broadcasting, or if it would continue.
Compiled by Tanya Jefferies, Sarah Davidson, Grace Gausden, Will Kirkman, George Nixon, Jayna Rana and Angelique Ruzicka.
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