In the run up to the general election, The Student analyses the main parties’ manifestos, allowing you to make an informed choice on the issues that matter most when polling opens on June 8.
“Forward together” promises the Conservative manifesto, but would this “strong and stable” government really improve conditions for the British people? Let’s start with students.
Unlike Labour, May makes no promises to bring back maintenance loans or reduce tuition fees. And she hasn’t ruled out raising them either.
Instead, she focuses her student policies on reforming the British higher education system into one more closely resembling the American system by encouraging universities to capitalise on the financial potential of their research, pushing them into the private commercial market.
This would not help to reduce the crippling debt faced by graduates – the worst in the English-speaking world – but hopes to increase investment in and by universities.
Also on the education front, they promise to create new institutes of technology, organisations with the same freedom as universities that would provide degree level teaching and apprenticeships in science, technology, engineering and maths.
This would help to achieve their targets of creating three million new apprenticeships for young people by 2020.
For graduates, the party promise to introduce a new minimum wage of £7.50 per hour and focus on ensuring the continuation of funding for graduate schemes.
Already this year the Conservatives have taken disability benefits away from 165,000 people, scrapped housing benefits for 18-21 year olds and forced rape victims to supply evidence of their attack in order to claim child tax credits, but what about other social issues?
The party will begin means testing the winter fuel allowance for pensioners, say they will remove free school meals in England and have promised a parliamentary vote to repeal the ban on fox hunting.
They have also scrapped a policy that would have capped care costs at £72,000 that was due to come into action in 2020.
Instead, they promise to protect the cost of social care for those with assets of £100,000 or less, an increase of the current £23,250 maximum.
However, they will introduce a new mental health bill that will see the recruitment of 10,000 new mental health workers, £1 billion worth of investments and the inclusion of mental health training in general first aid training. They also promise to end the stigma around mental health issues by placing them on the same level as physical illnesses.
On immigration, they aim to reduce net migration to tens of thousands, with the number of overseas students in the UK included in the figures. International students will also be expected to leave the country at the end of their course.
NHS funding is said to increase by £8 billion over the next five years and the overall schools budget will go up by £4 billion by 2022 while levels of foreign aid will remain at its current rate of 0.7 per cent of GDP.
Defence spending will also increase, by at least 0.5 per cent more than inflation each year.
Democratic reform is also a focus, with the party planning to review constituency boundaries and reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600.
Voters will also be made to present identification at the polls – by means of a passport (that costs £72.50), a driving license (£34) or a provisional license (£20) – a policy that could stop 7.5 per cent of the electorate from voting.
On Brexit, a major focus in all parties manifestos, the manifesto confirmed that the UK will leave the European single market and customs union.
The Conservatives currently hold a majority in parliament and are expected to retain this on June 8.
Image: Number 10