By now, you’ve probably heard about some of the policies that the main parties taking part in this week’s General Election hope to bring about. What you might not have seen as much of is their commitments to students and young adults.
We students represent a very peculiar part of the electorate as, being in our final year(s) of education, we have to vote on the basis of not only the educational policy but also policies aimed at those getting to grips with the world. We also have the ability to vote in one of two locations, given you don’t live in Swansea West’s constituency. I’d honestly advise voting here simply because in all likelihood, your vote is more valuable here than in most of the UK. Last time round Swansea West had one of the highest valued areas for each individual voter.
Over the next few paragraphs, you should learn some of what each of the main parties is willing to do for students on their stance on tuition fees, job creation and finally, the housing market.
CONSERVATIVES: Last time round, the Conservatives boosted tuition fees three fold, from £3000 to £9000. On top of this they also brought about a lot more jobs, mainly aimed at young people, but it is the long term status of these jobs that remains a problem in the eyes of many. The zero-hour contracts has been one of the weak points for opposition to target in their smearing of the Tories. This time round however, the Tories want to create 200,000 new homes for those under 40 buying for the first time.
LABOUR: Offering a reduction on tuition fees in England from £9000 to £6000, Labour is trying to use the fallout of last elections tuition fees as a way to sway the student vote. Whether they will abolish the payments on the £3000 excess our unfortunate 3 years have gone through remains to be seen. They also want regulation put on the Conservative policy of zero-hour contracts as to make sure a more permanent deal is offered to those after a given time working a zero-hour and offer jobs to anyone under the age of 25 unemployed for more than a year and 2 years if over 25. Like the Conservatives, Ed and Co. have promised 200,000 houses by 2020 as well as a ceiling on private rent.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: After the train wreck of Lib Dem’s plans for education last election, Clegg’s party isn’t commenting much on tuition fees and is unlikely to do so in fear of getting another slap on the wrist from the students of the UK and NUS. The Lib Dems want an increase on the income tax threshold to £12,500 in the hope of bolstering those new onto the job market. Furthermore, the Democrats want a policy of 300,000 homes a year.
GREEN: One of the biggest gainers, along with UKIP, is the Greens. A lot of former Lib Dem voting students have taken a shift into the green shade of politics due to their abolishment of tuition fees and paying them all of. How much this will affect us in terms of cutting the deficit is a cause for doubt. The Greens want to bring about a “Basic Income”, similar to a minimum wage, paid to all citizens. On top of this, Ms. Bennett would see the creation of 500,000 social homes and reintroduction of 350,000 unused homes back onto the market.
PLAID CYMRU: Lacking a definitive, party wide, stance on tuition fees, it is hard to say exactly what Plaid’s status on tuition fees is. Plaid want a devolution of benefits and welfare to a Wales based system, presumably run by the NAW. In terms of housing, Plaid would see more rent controls implemented as a way to monitor rent better in areas affected by high costs.
UKIP: Mr. Farage would see the abolishment of fees for those in the fields of Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering under the conditions that they pay UK tax and work in the field for five years after they finish studying. UKIP would also reduce the benefit cap and seek to remove us from the EU in an effort to “free up” jobs immigrants are taking especially in the low paid industries. By 2025 they would want the creation of 1,000,000 homes on land previously developed and protection of the green belt.
I’d advise any prospective voter to read more into each party’s policy regarding students, welfare and housing seeing as they will be the main three affecting most of us after this election. The BBC offers a nice condensed guide as to best compare each party’s policy, as well as providing links to each running party’s manifesto. It is all well and good voting come 7th May, but voting upon one or two policies and not the whole package can be just as detrimental. Vote May 7th, but vote informed.