Conservative manifesto: Key points for employers

The Conservative Party has published its election manifesto.

The document, Invitation to Join the Government of Britain, claims that a Tory government will cut £6bn of “wasteful departmental spending” in the financial year 2010-2011, and £12bn overall (Labour is promising £11bn of efficiency savings).

The manifesto states that this will be achieved by a freeze on new IT spending; immediate negotiations to achieve cost reductions from major suppliers; tighter control of public sector recruitment; reductions in discretionary spending, including travel, expenses, advertising, consultancy and office supplies; and reductions in public sector property costs.

Regulation



  • The Tories pledge to “cut down on unnecessary red tape”, with the introduction of a ‘one-in, one-out’ rule for new regulations, introducing regulatory budgets and ‘sunset clauses’.
  • Any new business started in the first two years of a Conservative government will pay no Employer National Insurance on the first 10 employees it hires during its first year. This is predicted to generate around 60,000 additional jobs over two years.
  • The Tories wish to “abolish the default retirement age”, as many older people want to carry on working past 65.

Public sector pay and pensions



  • A one-year public sector pay freeze in 2011 (this won’t affect the one million lowest-paid workers).
  • Public bodies will be required to publish online the job titles of every member of staff and the salaries and expenses of senior officials paid more than the lowest salary permissible in Pay Band 1 of the Senior Civil Service pay scale.
  • Anyone paid more than the Prime Minister in the public sector will be required to have their salary signed off by the Treasury.
  • Councillors will be given the power to vote on large salary packages for unelected council officials.
  • Senior civil servants will be required to publish online details of expense claims and meetings with lobbyists.
  • The date at which the state pension age starts will rise to 66, no earlier than 2016 for men and 2020 for women.
  • Cap the biggest public sector pensions above £50,000 and work with the trade unions, businesses and others to address the growing disparity between public and private sector pensions.

Unemployment



  • The introduction of a single back-to-work programme for all the unemployed, including the 2.6m people on incapacity benefits.
  • Referring the young unemployed on to The Work Programme after six months of unemployment – compared to a year under Labour’s Flexible New Deal.
  • Funding 200,000 apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, 100,000 work pairings and 100,000 further education college places.
  • Establishing ‘Work Together’, a programme to connect people with volunteering opportunities in their area.
  • Providing the seed-funding needed to establish a network of Work Clubs, places where people receive mentoring, skills training and help to find local job opportunities.
  • Transforming the civil service into a ‘civic service’ by making sure that participation in social action is recognised in civil servants’ appraisals.

Skills



  • The creation of 400,000 work pairing, apprenticeship, college and training places over two years
  • A Community Learning Fund to help older workers develop new skills.
  • Better careers advice, including a trained careers adviser in every secondary school and college and a new all-age careers service.

Women in the workplace



  • The manifesto promises measures to tackle the gender pay gap, including stronger legislation to prevent employers discriminating and better careers guidance for young women.
  • The extension of the right to request flexible working to all parents with children under the age of 18.
  • The introduction of a new system of flexible parental leave, so parents can decide how to divide maternity leave between them and are able to make use of it simultaneously.

Immigration



  • An annual limit on the numbers of non-EU economic migrants who are allowed to work in the UK.
  • The introduction of new rules to tighten up the student visa system.
  • A dedicated Border Police Force to crack down on illegal immigration and people trafficking.
  • An English language test for anyone coming to the UK to get married.

The Labour manifesto was published yesterday, and the Liberal Democrats will publish theirs tomorrow.

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