What Are Political Parties Promising London In This Election?

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 34 months ago
What Are Political Parties Promising London In This Election?

Promises, promises. Politicians are making all kinds of them in the hope of wooing you over, all for the sake of that little cross on a ballot paper. But what are they specifically promising London? We've trawled the five main parties' manifestos to find out what they think we want.

Housing

Build more bloody houses. Photo by st_hart from the Londonist Flickr pool

Well, yeah, we were always going to start with the housing crisis...

The Conservatives (once we figured out how to work their manifesto; click on the extreme edges of the screen) are focusing on building 200,000 homes nationally at 20% below market price for first time buyers and their ludicrously flawed plan to extend Right to Buy to housing associations. They also promise 275,000 more 'affordable' homes by 2020, and 10,000 homes to rent at below market rents to help people save for a deposit. The Tories also want to stop under 21s being automatically entitled to housing benefit. Given the cost of renting in London, that would prevent many young people from leaving home.

Labour would build 200,000 homes nationally a year, but might take up to 2020 to reach that level. For renters, the party wants to make three year tenancies the norm, cap rent increases to no more than CPI inflation and ban "unfair" letting agent fees. (We don't know whether that means they think all fees are unfair, or if they'd just ban unfair ones.) They'd also create a national register of landlords to try and improve standards.

The Liberal Democrats want to build 300,000 new homes nationally a year, introduce a Rent to Own scheme and create a loan scheme to help with rental deposits. The Lib Dems dedicate a fair amount of space to 'affordable' housing, going into quite a lot of detail of how they'd encourage councils and housing associations to build. Multi-year tenancies are also mentioned, as is the possibility of banning letting agent fees.

The Greens say they would build 500,000 homes nationally for social rent over the next Parliament; introduce longer tenancies and 'smart' rent control linked to CPI inflation, mandatory licensing for landlords and abolishing agent fees.

UKIP aims to get 1m homes built on brownfield sites by 2025.

Green belt land would be protected by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP, with these parties thinking we can solve all our housing woes by utilising brownfield. The Tories want to create a London Land Commission with a mandate to identify and release surplus brownfield land held by the public sector. It's a good idea, and something various London Assembly members have been calling for.

Labour's Mansion Tax would affect homes in London, as it covers homes worth over £2m. (If you're on a low income and are one of the Londoners who's become asset-wealthy as your home has risen in value around you, you'll be able to defer the charge to the next buyer.)

Transport

Crossrail 2: it's mentioned by the Conservatives; the Liberal Democrats have vague promises to 'improve London's transport infrastructure' (which might mean Crossrail 2, might not). HS2 would also become a reality under the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats but not under the Greens and UKIP.

Crossrail (1), Canary Wharf. Photo by Matt Brock from the Londonist Flickr pool

Labour would freeze next year's rail fares while it reformed the franchising system, and then introduce a fare rise cap. The Greens wouldn't just reform the franchising system, they'd renationalise the railways.

The Lib Dems and Greens are opposed to expanding London's airports — including any new estuary airport. UKIP want to re-open Manston Airport, which is in Thanet. Any co-incidence that Nigel Farage is standing in South Thanet?

The Greens also specifically mention action to prevent deaths and injuries to pedestrians and cyclists on the roads.

Health

The NHS in London is under pressure from many angles; the latest news from charity the King's Fund identifies under-pressure A&E departments, longer waiting times to see a GP, a growing population and the cost of living in the capital making it harder to recruit staff.

So how do the parties plan to fix this? All of them promise to spend more on the NHS: the Tories offer £8bn above inflation by 2020; Labour would partly use the Mansion Tax to fund more doctors, nurses and midwives; the Lib Dems pledge an extra £8bn in real terms by 2020; the Greens would immediately increase the NHS budget by £12bn a year and then by 1.2% a year; and by 2020 UKIP would be putting in an extra £3bn a year.

Photo by Chris Marchant from the Londonist Flickr pool

Longer opening hours for GPs and faster appointment times are on the cards from the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems; the Greens champion longer-opening community health centres to complement GP services; UKIP plans to cut down on admin to free more of GPs' time.

Air pollution, an issue which is increasingly vexing Londoners, is mentioned by the Greens, Labour and Lib Dems.

None of this solves the recruitment problem, though.

Devolution

The Tories promise to "devolve further powers over skills spending and planning" to the Mayor of London — but actually, what London could do with is more control over its taxes. Labour mentions devolution in general terms, though it sounds more like giving the rest of the country powers similar to what London already has (and no mention of taxes).

The special status enjoyed by the City of London Corporation would be over under the Greens.

Pay

One of the reasons the housing crisis is a crisis (apart from the obvious one of there not being enough homes to go round) is that wages haven't kept pace with increases in rent and house prices. Several parties plan to increase the minimum wage: Labour would raise it to £8 an hour by 2019 and offer tax rebates to companies that pay the Living Wage, while the Greens would raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour by 2020.

Labour and the Greens also plan to abolish zero hour contracts and clamp down on unpaid internships, which ensure only those who already have means can gain entry to certain professions (a particular scourge for the capital).

The Liberal Democrats and Conservatives would raise the personal allowance tax threshold to £12,500, UKIP would raise it to £13,000 and Labour would reintroduce the 10p income tax band.

The cost of childcare is also a huge issue — and barrier — for working parents in London. Labour pledges to increase the amount of free childcare for three and four year olds from the current 15 to 25 hours a week; the Conservatives would provide 30 hours; the Lib Dems would provide 20 hours a week for two to four year-olds; the Greens want a system of childcare that starts at birth; UKIP would maintain the status quo.

Culture

The Conservatives support plans for a new concert hall for London, while UKIP would offer tax breaks to encourage micro-breweries.

Take a look at the manifestos for yourself:

Read more of Londonist's election coverage.

Last Updated 30 April 2015