It’s party time

By Paul Marinko | 03 December 2019

With just a week to polling day, the race to form the next Government is nearly over.

What the future holds for local government is very much depending on who finally gets the keys to Number 10.

The main political parties are offering a wide range of policies, which could take the sector in several different directions.

Labour is promising significant funding for areas such as housing and social care, as well as a major programme of in-sourcing services.

The Conservatives are committed to devolution across England and billions in funding for roads and rail.

And the Liberal Democrats say they would introduce a dedicated health and care tax, as well as a ‘devolution revolution’.

Environment

Conservatives

  • Ban export of plastics to non-OECD countries
  • £4bn funding for flood defences

Labour

  •  £5.6bn funding for flood defences – prioritising North West, Yorkshire and the East Midlands
  • Make producers responsible for full cost of recycling and disposal
  • Ban fracking

Liberal Democrats

  • Council responsibility to produce zero carbon strategies
  • Ban fracking
  • Statutory recycling target of 70%
  • Support for councils to develop local electricity generation

Social Care & Health

Conservatives

  • Seek cross-party consensus
  • No one forced to sell home to pay for care
  • Continue £1bn extra annual funding
  • £74m for learning disability and autism
  • Extend leave entitlement for unpaid carers

Labour

  • ‘National Care Service’ for England
  • Free personal care for older people
  • £100,000 elderly care cost cap
  • Double number of free care packages
  • End 15 minute care visits
  •  Pay care workers’ travel time
  • Increase allowance for unpaid full-time carers
  • Repeal Health & Social Care Act
  •  Extra £1bn for public health
  •  Recruit extra 4,500 health visitors and school nurses

Liberal Democrats

  • £70bn for NHS and social care
  • Dedicated health and care tax
  • Pooled place-based budget for health and care
  • New independent budget monitoring body
  • Reverse cuts to public health budget

Universal Credit

Conservatives

  • Continue roll-out and end benefit freeze

Labour

  • Scrap it

Liberal Democrats

  • Reduce wait for first payment from five weeks to five days
  • End two-child limit and cap

Communities

Conservatives

  • Tackle illegal traveller encampments
  • Make ‘intentional trespass’ a criminal offence and more planning powers
  • Full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband by 2025 for every home and business
  • £250m for local libraries and museums
  • Initial 100 towns to benefit from Towns Fund
  • £500m investment in youth clubs and services
  • £150m Community Ownership Fund

Labour

  • New public service to provide free full-fibre broadband
  • Extra £1bn for fire safety measures
  • Review Prevent programme
  • ‘Rural proofing’ to consider impact of policies
  • Preserve libraries and update wi-fi and computers
  • Reintroduce library standards
  • More powers to set planning fees

Liberal Democrats

  • Hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across UK
  • Expand Future High Streets Fund
  • £500m funding for youth services
  • End conversion of shops and businesses to housing
  • £2bn rural services fund

Devolution

Conservatives

  •  English devolution White Paper next year
  • Aim of ‘full devolution across England’

Labour

  • More powers and funding to every region
  • Nine regional offices in England
  • Directly-elected mayors more accountable to councillors
  • Local Transformation Fund in each region
  • National Transformation Fund Unit moved to North of England
  • UK constitutional convention to look at how power distributed

Liberal Democrats

  • ‘Devolution revolution’ – councils able to establish devolved governance
  • Revenue-raising powers given to regions
  • Mention of Cornish Assembly and Yorkshire Parliament
  • ‘Champion’ investment in Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine
  • Mayoral authorities not ranked more highly than other systems

Transport

Conservatives

  • nvest in regional rail – initially Northern Powerhouse and Midlands
  • Await Oakervee Review on HS2
  •  £500m capital investment next year to restore Beeching lines
  • City regions funding to upgrade bus, tram and train services
  • ‘Bring back and protect rural [bus] routes’
  • Total investment of £28.8bn in roads
  • £2bn to tackle potholes

Labour

  • Power to bring local bus services into public ownership
  •  Free bus travel for under-25s where councils take over control
  •  Reinstate 3,000 cut routes
  • Deliver Crossrail for the North and consult on opening branch lines
  • Complete HS2 and extend to Scotland
  • Investment in local roads and pavements

Liberal Democrats

  • £4.5bn over five years for bus routes
  • Allow councils to run bus companies
  • Commitment to HS2, Crossrail 2 and ‘other new strategic rail routes’

Children and Schools

Conservatives

  • More Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) school places
  • Extra £780m SEND funding next year
  • Review of children’s care system
  • Improve Troubled Families programme

Labour

  • Double annual spending on child and adolescent mental health services
  • Councils responsible for delivery of education and support for young people
  • Reverse cuts to Sure Start and create Sure Start Plus focused on under-two’s
  • Provide ‘necessary funding’ for SEND
  • 50,000 extra early years staff
  • Give power over free schools and academies back to communities, parents and teachers
  • Replace Ofsted with new inspection body
  •  ‘Properly funded’ national youth service
  •  ‘Wholesale review’ of children’s care system
  • Troubled Families to be replaced by Stronger Families programme

Liberal Democrats

  •  More cash to ‘end the crisis’ in SEND
  • Invest £1bn a year into children’s centres
  • Council responsibility for school places planning, exclusions and admissions
  •  Power to open new community schools

Local Government Funding & Reform

Conservatives

  • Local people keep veto over ‘excessive’ council tax rises
  • Voter ID for elections
  • Strengthen accountability and expand role of Police and Crime Commissioners
  • Reduce business rates and review system

Labour

  • Restore spending to 2010 levels by 2024
  •  Funding more reactive to changing local circumstances
  • Consider ‘land value tax’ to replace business rates
  •  Presumption in favour of in-sourcing
  • Public sector pay restored to pre-financial crisis levels – initial 5% increase
  • Maximum pay ratio of 20:1
  • Reduce average full-time working hours to 32 with no loss of pay within decade
  • Voting age reduced to 16
  • Take back all PFI contracts ‘over time’

Liberal Democrats

  • ‘Real increase’ in funding
  • £50bn regional rebalancing programme for infrastructure
  •  Power to introduce tourist levy
  • Enhanced powers over new income sources
  • Police and Crime Commissioners replaced with ‘accountable boards’
  • Single Transferable Vote for elections
  • Voting age reduced to 16

Housing

Conservatives

  •  At least a million more homes by end of next Parliament – including ‘hundreds of thousands of affordable homes’. Target of 300,000 a year by mid-2020s
  • Expansion of programmes such as Rough Sleeping Initiative and Housing First
  •  Introduce social housing White Paper
  •  Renew affordable homes programme

Labour

  • End Right to Buy
  • £1m new social homes over a decade – 150,000 every year (100,000 council homes)
  • Extra £1bn a year for homelessness services
  •  Power and funding for councils to buy back private sector homes
  • Developers taxed on stalled housing developments
  •  ‘Affordable’ homes definition changed to link with local income
  • Scrap bedroom tax and increase local housing allowance
  •  English Sovereign Land Trust with power to buy land more cheaply for low cost housing
  •  End conversion of office blocks for housing
  • Consider reducing housing debt councils hold

Liberal Democrats

  • Build 100,000 social homes a year
  • Devolved decision-making on Right to Buy
  • Scrap permitted development
  • Councils allowed to increase council tax by 500% on second homes
  • Abolish bedroom tax
  •  Incentivise downsizing
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