Five things we learned from the Conservative manifesto

What to expect from a Conservative government

 

1) There was ‘no detail’ on the really big cuts to come

Speaking to Sky News earlier, Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said there was “no detail” of the “really big cuts” the Tories would make in the next parliament:

One thing the prime minister didn’t make too much of but did say, was that he was reaffirming a commitment to getting the overall budget into surplus by 2018. That implies something really dramatic – and we’re talking tens and tens of billions of pounds worth of spending cuts or tax increases even before you start to think about some of the promises that we’ve heard on the National Health Service, on increasing the personal tax allowance.

2) The Conservatives are unlikely to meet the 2 per cent Nato spending target

The manifesto contains only vague wording on this point, saying only that it is meeting the 2 per cent target at present. This is sophistry, for independent forecasts suggest that UK defence spending will fall below the 2 per cent target next year. The manifesto does nothing to assuage those fears. Ironic when David Cameron is playing on fears that Ed Miliband would be incapable of standing up to Russia. Tory austerity might be the real gift to Putin.

3) Free childcare plan and an increase in 

From 2017, the Conservatives want to give working parents 30 hours a week free childcare at a cost (according to the Tories) of £350m a year. Labour plans to give parents 25 hours free childcare but has already announced plans to expand Sure Start childcare places by 50,000.

4) People on the minimum wage will be taken out of income tax

In a pitch to coveted ‘hard working people’, the Tories have pledged to introduce a ‘tax-free minimum wage law as well as automatically uprate the basic rate limit with inflation. The Conservatives also plan to increase the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by April 2020. During his speech today, David Cameron said the Tories were “Not just the party of low tax, but the party of no tax.” Which would be fine of course, if the coalition hadn’t already increased VAT in this parliament – a tax which disproportionately hits the poorest.

5) Extending right to buy to housing association tenants

Should they win the election, the Conservatives plan to extend the right-to-buy scheme so that up to 1.3 million housing association tenants in England will be able to buy their homes at a discount. To quote our housing expert Kevin Gulliver (who is well worth reading on this):

Extending the right-to-buy to the country’s 2,000 charitable housing associations, which manage around 2.5m social homes, or around 60 per cent of the total, will confirm the Tories’ aim of furthering the demise of social housing. It will be a part of a wider Tory erosion of the welfare state.

Commenting on the announcement, chief executive of the National Housing Federation David Orr said:

All the efforts of housing associations, local authorities and others are geared towards ending this housing crisis by building new homes and regenerating existing homes where that is the best solution. The right to buy makes that more difficult.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.