UK Politics

What would a Conservative government do for you?

The next general election will take place in just under eight months. So, what did we learn about Conservative policies at the party's annual conference this week?

The Conservatives are promising income tax cuts for all - but they might not be for a while...

The plan is for tax to start kicking in at £12,500 a year, instead of £10,500. That means no income tax at all for one million people. And a tax cut for 30 million - that's basically every taxpayer. It'll cost £5.6bn. The number-crunchers were quick to ask where such a big sum is going to come from. The answer is that cash will be freed up when there's more coming into Treasury's coffers than going out. When will that be? The Conservatives reckon they could eradicate the deficit - and even have a surplus - by 2018. A tax cut would follow by the end of the next parliament. That's 2020.


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Image caption The Conservatives say that public sector workers - like police officers - are being dragged into higher rate tax

There's another tax cut in the offing - for higher earners...

David Cameron's big surprise was the promise that the higher tax rate, 40%, would start at £50,000 instead of £41,900 (again by 2020). A big gain for the better paid, with the cost to the Treasury around £1.6bn. Again, the Conservatives say it would be paid for by balancing the books via further spending cuts.


One more to go... the Conservatives are to reduce tax on inherited pensions...

It may have passed you by but there's a tax of 55% on some pension pots, when the owner of the pot dies. The Conservatives are abolishing this "death tax" on any remaining pension pot, which means more money for relatives and £150 million in lost income for the Treasury. It's actually being introduced next April - just before the election.


Enough tax cuts... what about cuts to public spending?

The Conservatives would make further cuts of around £25bn to public spending. They say it's the best way to finish the job of eliminating the deficit (the gap between the nation's income and outgoings).


A lot of money...where is the axe going to fall?

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A Conservative government wouldn't increase benefits for working-age people for two years. That means less money for people receiving jobseekers' allowance, income support, tax credits and child benefit. Two thirds of the people affected have got a job. They rely on income support and tax credits to boost the low wages paid by their employers. The Conservatives say the benefit "freeze" would save about £3bn.


Benefit cap cut...

The maximum amount a household could claim each year would be reduced from £26,000 to £23,000. Jobseeker's allowance would be withdrawn from young people after six months unless they take part in "community projects". And 18 to 21-year-olds wouldn't be entitled to housing benefit.


More apprenticeships..

The savings from these benefit cuts would be used to pay for three million apprenticeships for young people and some people, like White Dee (of TV Benefits Street fame) liked the plan to introduce pre-paid benefits cards to ensure claimants can't spend that money on alcohol, drugs or gambling.


No cuts to the NHS

Not wanting Labour to be seen as the defender of the NHS, the Conservatives promise not to seek savings in the health budget. There are promises of better services too. In England, everyone would be able to see a GP seven days a week by 2020. The Conservatives say they'll recruit 5,000 more doctors.


Away from money matters... the Conservatives are staking their claim to be the party of law and order...

A Conservative government would introduce banning orders and extremism disruption orders - or EXDOs. A banning order could be used to outlaw a group that incites hatred or causes fear. EXDOs are based on ASBOs. They would stop "disruptive" individuals from speaking in public or holding a position of authority. There would also be a new law setting out victims' rights.


The police would be able to get hold of internet data...

The Home Secretary Theresa May would bring in new laws to make it easier for the police to collect information about internet activity by suspected criminals. There are some forms of data that internet service providers don't obtain or store. The Conservatives are promising a Communications Data Act, requiring companies to start storing certain types of information.


And on affairs of state...

The Conservatives have several bold constitutional moves on the agenda. They'd introduce English-only votes on English matters in Parliament. On Europe, David Cameron is promising to renegotiate agreements on the free movement of people. There would be an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union. And the Conservatives would get rid of the Human Rights Act, introducing a British Bill of Rights instead.

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