In the next of our Parties Under the Microscope series, we’re talking UK infrastructure. A hugely important issue yet it can often be difficult to engage voters on the topic. Why? Massive investments and long timelines make for a nuanced discussion which can often lag behind in a short term campaign and an audience focused on quick deliverables. In light of Brexit, a continued dedication to infrastructure will become more crucial than ever to ensure our continued economic competitiveness. In this article, we will also list the different party aims with regards to the National Health Service.
Each of the main parties has addressed the issue of UK infrastructure in their respective manifestos but as to be expected, in very different ways. Once again, we’ll take a look at what the manifestos of the Conservatives, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have to say on the issue. We’ll begin with the Conservatives.
The Tories have set out the importance of building a strong economy as one of their five major challenges moving forward. Although they have recognised the importance of infrastructure in accomplishing this, they have not set out a specific section in the manifesto dedicated to it. They have however pledged the below:
- Introduction of National Productivity Investment Fund to the tune of £23bn. Of this figure £740m will go to digital infrastructure, £1.1bn for local transport and a further £250m on skills by 2020.
- Promise to build a million homes by 2020 and a further million by 2022. A further pledge was made to work in conjunction with private and public sectors to capture the rise in land values for investing in further housing and infrastructure.
- A dedication to increasing innovation via an increase in research and development funding to 2.4% of GDP. This move will allow international scientists to work in the UK.
- Continuing to invest in current transport channels, such has Heathrow, Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and the roads investment strategy.
- £600m will be set aside to help all cars and vans hit zero emissions mark by year 2050.
- A focus will be placed on tackling rail capacity.
- Investment in the development of autonomous vehicles, smart grids and digital railways.
- By 2022, spending on the NHS will rise by £8bn in real terms. However, £22bn STP programme of cuts will continue.
- 10,000 mental health professionals will be recruited
- New mental health bill will ensure parity of mental health with physical ailments.
The Labour Party
The Labour Party set out the boldest strategy with regards to infrastructure, setting out a 10-year strategy totalling a £250bn investment. In their manifesto, the party remarked that investment in UK infrastructure has been ‘too concentrated in too few places.’ Their answer to bolstering infrastructure includes the below:
- Complete HS2 high-speed railway, running from London into Scotland. HS2 will be linked with Crossrail. In the South East, a new Brighton Main Line will be constructed.
- Complete the Science Vale transport arc, from Oxford to Cambridge and then to Milton Keynes.
- Deliver rail expansion and electrification across the whole of England and Wales.
- Investment in low carbon gas and renewable energy, ensuring 60% of all UK energy comes from zero carbon or renewable sources by 2030.
- Deliver universal superfast broadband by 2022 and improve mobile internet coverage, ensuring all urban areas, major roads and railways have uninterrupted 5G coverage.
- 3% of GDP to be spent on R&D.
- Appointment of Digital Ambassador to promote Britain as an attractive place for investment and provide support for start-ups looking to thrive in the digital age.
- Dedication to skills development by establishing a National Education Service for England.
- Establish a new housing ministry, whose job it will be to ‘improve the number, affordability and standards of homes’. They have pledged to build at least 100,000 new council and housing association homes a year by the end of the next Parliament.
- An additional £6bn per year will be funnelled into the NHS, with free parking at all NHS hospitals.
- Repeal of NHS and Social Care Act 2012.
- PrEP will be fully rolled out to high-risk groups.
- Access to A&E treatment to be guaranteed within 4 hours, access to treatment guaranteed within 18 weeks.
The Liberal Democrats
Unlike the above manifestos, the Lib Dem offering is an invitation to support the party is the primary opposition. Brexit plays a huge part in the manifesto, seeking to vehemently oppose the commencement of a hard Brexit. That said, the Lib Dems have highlighted a £100bn investment for UK infrastructure – a figure that they have stated to be both ‘responsible and realistic.’ The investment will involve prioritising the below:
- Building 30,000 new home a year by 2022, by facilitating new direct spending on house building.
- Continued commitment to investments in HS2, Crossrail 2 and rail electrification.
- Dedication to installing superfast fibre optic broadband across the UK.
- Addition funding to help generate private investment in renewable energy. They party has also pledged to provide assistance to areas which are heavily dependent on fossil fuels such as North East Scotland to help move away from these industries.
- Continued support for Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine programmes.
- North of England and Midlands to benefit from an investment of capital resources in infrastructure projects.
- Decision-making powers of transport, housing and skills to be more devolved.
- NHS and social care to receive £6bn
- Waiting times for mental health care to be set at same as those for physical health.
- End to public sector pay freeze for NHS workers.
- PrEP to be available on NHS
- Introduction of a care cap, which will limit a person’s lifetimes costs.
The Scottish National Party
With regards to infrastructure, the Scottish National Party has focused heavily on the protection of public services in their manifesto. They believe firmly in tackling austerity and securing continued investment in our public services. They have set out a three-point fiscal plan which will release almost £120 billion for public spending. Actions will include:
- Carry out ten-year Mental Health Strategy, comprising of 40 different actions which will improve access to services and support earlier intervention.
- Commitment to enshrining safe NHS staffing levels in law.
- Work with unions to submit evidence to independent pay review body and to implement the subsequent recommendations in full.
- Protect free tuition and non-means tested and non-repayable nursing and midwifery student bursary.
- Pursue policy to attract and retain talent young individuals to work in public services.
- Press for immigration powers to be devolved to Scottish Parliament, allowing Scotland to attract EU and EEA nationals to work in Scottish NHS.
- Push UK Government to remain part of EMA.
- PrEP is already available in Scotland. SNP will push to make this a UK wide standard.
- Ensure that by 2017-2018, £6.4bn of UK infrastructure projects will be underway.
- Deliver £1.4nb Queensferry Crossing.
- Upgrading Scottish road network.
- £742 million is being invested in improvements to Glasgow to Edinburgh rail line. £170 million Aberdeen-Inverness rail upgrade is now under construction.
- £3 billion to be invested to deliver a minimum of 50,000 affordable home. Of this number, 35,000 will be for social rent.
- £400 million to deliver superfast broadband to 95% of Scottish properties by end of 2017.
- £500 million to be dedicated to energy efficiency over next four years.
We are now just a few days away from the General Election. Now is the time to brief yourself on each party’s policies and make your decision. If you have concerns over the stability of your investments in light of the current political environment, don’t hesitate to get in touch.