Wednesday 15-04-2015 - 16:32
The Liberal Democrats today released their 2015 General Election manifesto
Earlier this morning Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, launched his party’s manifesto, saying the Lib Dems would ‘add heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one.’
The front page of the manifesto contains the Liberal Democrat’s top five priorities which Nick Clegg says he will ‘fight tooth and nail for in the next parliament’ – these can largely be assumed to be their ‘red lines’ in any coalition negotiation talks. The five key pledges include:
- To balance the budget for a stronger economy
- To cut income tax by an additional £400 by raising the tax-free allowance to £12,500 (the level of the national minimum wage)
- To invest an extra £8bn into the NHS, and to put mental health on an equal footing
- Fighting climate change with five new ‘green laws’
- Protecting the education budget from nursery to college (inc. 16-19) and qualified teachers in schools
Within the manifesto there are a few commitments which closely mirror the demands in our New Deal for the Next Generation that students and student unions’ have been campaigning for. These include:
- Votes at 16
- To maintain DSA, and to “review the impact of any changes to consider additional protections for the most vulnerable students with disabilities.”
- Personal Social and Health Education – including citizenship and age-appropriate sex and relationship education, including respect in relationships and consent.
The manifesto also contains a commitments to:
- Introduce a ‘Young Person’s Discount Card’ for young people aged 16–21, giving a two thirds discount on bus travel, “as resources allow”
- Set up a cross-party commission to secure a long-term settlement for the public funding of reskilling and lifelong learning
- Ensure that all universities work to widen participation across the sector, prioritising early intervention in schools and colleges.
- To bring new legislation to reform the regulation of the higher education sector.
- To develop National Colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, like renewable energy.
- To increase the number of apprenticeships and extend the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers.
- To work with the Apprenticeship Advisory Group to increase the number of apprentices from BAME backgrounds, ensure gender balance across industry sectors, and encourage underrepresented groups to apply.
On the issue of tuition fees, the Liberal Democrat Party policy remains that they will set up ‘a review of higher education finance within the next Parliament to consider any necessary reforms.' This will include undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as a review of living costs for students.