Last week all of the political parties unveiled their manifestos ahead of the upcoming General Election.

The headline pledges from the three main parties are:

  • Labour will scrap the ‘Non-dom’ tax status
  • the Conservatives will extend Right to Buy to housing association properties and
  • the Liberal Democrats will put £2.5bn more funding into education

But what do the three main parties have to offer in terms of welfare policy?

> Download our guide Election 2015: What’s At Stake for Welfare? A side-by-side comparison of the welfare policies of the three main political parties [pdf]

Election 2015: Welfare Policies Compared

The table below compares the Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Labour party’s policies on welfare and related policy issues such as childcare, housing, minimum wage, and taxes.

ConservativesLib DemsLabour
Universal CreditComplete the roll-out of Universal Credit.• Complete the roll-out of Universal Credit.
• Review UC to address any issues regarding ‘cliff edges’, and ensure increased working hours are properly incentivised.
Pause and review the programme.
Spare Room Subsidy /
Bedroom tax
No change.• Existing social tenants will not be subject to any housing benefit reduction until they have been offered reasonable alternative accommodation.
• Ensure that those who need a bedroom for genuine medical reasons are entitled to one, and those whose homes are substantially adapted do not have their Housing Benefit reduced.
Abolish it.
Benefit capReduce the benefit cap to £23,000.Retain the benefit cap, which should continue to be set at around the average family income.Ask the Social Security Advisory Committee to examine if it should be lower in some areas.
Benefit upratingFreeze working age benefits for two years from April 2016, with some exemptions (e.g. disability benefits, statutory maternity pay etc.).Introduce a 1% cap on the uprating of working-age benefits until 2017/18.• Introduce a higher rate of Jobseekers’ Allowance for those who have contributed over years.
• Cap Child Benefit rises for two years.
Disability• Review whether benefits should be reduced for people suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions (e.g. addiction, obesity) who refuse a recommended treatment.
• Aim to halve the disability employment gap.
• Provide significant new support for mental health.
• Develop a package of specialist support for carers seeking work.
• Conduct a review of the Work Capability Assessment and Personal Independence Payment assessments.
• Simplify and streamline back-to-work support for people with disabilities, mental or physical health problems.
• Reform the Work Capability Assessment and focus it on the support disabled people need to get into work. It will be monitored by an independent scrutiny group of disabled people.
• Introduce a specialist support programme to ensure that disabled people who can work get more tailored help.
Young peopleReplace Jobseeker’s Allowance for 18-21 year olds with a Youth Allowance. After six months, young people will have to take an apprenticeship, a traineeship or do daily community work to receive benefits. They will not have an automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit.• Protect young people’s entitlements to the welfare safety net.
• Double the number of businesses that hire apprentices.
A guaranteed, paid job for all young people who have been out of work for one year, and for all those over 25 years old and out of work for two years. It will be a job that they have to take, or lose their benefits.
PensionersContinue to increase the State Pension through our triple lock, so it rises by at least 2.5%, inflation or earnings, whichever is highest.• Legislate to make the ‘triple lock’ permanent, guaranteeing decent pensions rises each year.
• Withdraw eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment and free TV Licence from pensioners who pay tax at the higher rate (40%).
• Keep the triple-lock so that the state pension increases by inflation, earnings, or 2.5%, whichever is highest.
• Restrict Winter Fuel Payments for the richest 5% of pensioners.

This is not an exhaustive list, so if you want to read them yourselves, here are the full manifestos for the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour for the General Election 2015.

Further Reading and Next Steps

If you have found this article useful you may also enjoy these other Policy in Practice posts:

To find out how we can help your organisation prepare for Universal Credit roll out please get in touch.

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