The GEek, Labour Manifesto Reaction

22 November 2019
By Charlotte Pickles
Profile picture for user Charlotte Pickles

We read the Labour manifesto so you don't have to! 

Here's what we thought:

🥇REFORMING POLICY 

Land reform

Labour have pledged to introduce a ‘use it or lose it’ tax for stalled housing developments and establish a new English Sovereign Land Trust to buy land for affordable housing. While other parties are focused on  house building, Labour has recognised that land is one of the biggest barriers to solving the housing crisis.

😤REACTIONARY POLICY

A presumption to insource

Labour have pledged to introduce a presumption in favour of insourcing which will apply to national services such as Health and Prisons, and local services including bin collection. Private providers are vital for delivering public services. Instead of wasting billions on an ideological obsession, Labour should focus on their proposed “best practice public service criteria”.

💬QUOTE OF THE MANIFESTO

“We will end the unfairness that sees income from wealth taxed at lower rates than income from work.”

👍GOOD MANIFESTO FOR

Fairer taxation

Labour has pledged to equalise the rate of capital gains tax with the marginal income tax rate. This means that income from labour will no longer be taxed at a higher rate than income from capital, leading to a much fairer taxation system which rewards work.

Disadvantaged students 1

Labour has pledged to bring back maintenance grants for students in higher and further education. The targeted grants, which were advocated in the recent Augar Review of post-18 education, would help to attract more disadvantaged students who may otherwise struggle to meet living costs.

Disadvantaged students 2

Labour has committed to working with universities to apply contextualised admissions across the system. As previous Reform research shows, contextualised admissions would help to level the playing field and ensure that universities meet their targets of improving access for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups. 

👎BAD MANIFESTO FOR 

Rent Controls

Labour has pledged to introduce rent controls in the private rented sector, despite ample evidence indicating this will not help solve the housing crisis. When prices are capped, people have less incentive to rent out their homes and maintain them to a good standard, reducing the number and quality of rental homes available.

State-run pharma

Labour has pledged to set up a generic drug company, which would produce medicines for the NHS in competition with private pharmaceutical companies. Without substantial R&D funding, or the necessary infrastructure to produce state drugs, this policy risks worsening supply issues in healthcare and disincentivising innovation. In 2015, pharmaceutical companies invested £4.1 billion in developing new drugs, while the government spent £2.4 billion. With no details on how this will be funded or deployed, this policy could put patients’ safety at risk.  

Abolish university tuition fees

Labour has pledged to abolish tuition fees, at a cost of £5 billion a year. Far from helping increase the proportion of disadvantaged young people at university, the policy is a bung to high earning graduates who could afford to pay back their loans.

Say what?

The Manifesto commits to spending an additional £8.4 billion to reform Universal Credit, including paying childcare costs upfront and scrapping the two-child limit. After all this hard work, however, Labour will then scrap UC altogether. The Party also plans to abolish the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)… then replace it with the familiarly named ‘Department for Social Security’ (the former name for DWP).

Reform's comment: 

Our Director, Charlotte Pickles, wrote a piece today for The Telegraph arguing that despite being a recipe for fiscal disaster, it has some sensible ideas for how to fix capitalism. You can read it here

Commenting, Charlotte also said:

“Labour’s eye-watering tax and spend pledges are unaffordable and undeliverable. But within this fiscal disaster are some sensible ideas for creating a fairer system.”

“Their promise to introduce a “use it or lose it” tax to stop land banking could help get Britain building and boost home ownership. While their commitment to tax income from capital at the same rate as income from labour would create a more equitable tax system.
 
“Reintroducing maintenance grants and mandating contextualised admissions could make a big difference to widening access to university – helping to ensure that a young person’s background does not dictate their future success.”