Scottish Conservative 2016 manifesto: key points
Low taxation and opposition to a second referendum are the cornerstones of the Scottish Conservatives’ Holyrood manifesto
The headline policies in the Scottish Conservatives’ manifesto are opposing a second referendum, low taxation and a strong opposition that will hold the SNP to account.
The Tories’ ‘programme for opposition’ covers key policies in tax, employment, education, childcare, health, welfare, justice and housing.
A commitment to keeping tax the same as the rest of the UK, including the rise in the higher rate threshold to £45,000, and lowering it when affordable tops the policy agenda, with a shadow council of economic advisers established to provide advice on tax decisions.
The party would end the council tax freeze, cap council tax rises at three per cent per year and support an increase to bands G and H only.
One of the party’s highest priorities is to call for repeal of named person legislation and replace it with a crisis family fund to provide more focussed support for vulnerable children. It will also push for more free childcare hours to be given to one and two year olds, initially from deprived backgrounds then extending them to all one to four year olds, to tackle the attainment gap.
The Tories will demand that NHS funding is raised by two per cent, inflation or Barnett consequentials, whichever is higher. The party will call for a boost in support for mental health, with another £300m to be devoted to it over the next parliament. The party says it would reintroduce prescription charges for those who can afford them, raising £65m by the end of the parliament to be invested in nurses, GPs, health visitors or new medicines.
The Conservatives will push for a reversal of the cuts to further education spending, putting an additional £60m a year into the sector, giving equal weight to vocational and academic education and the introduction of a graduate contribution for £1,500 per year payable once the graduate is earning over £20,000.
The party will call for schools leaders to be given more autonomy, more focus on early literacy and numeracy in nursery and primary school, while supporting the recent introduction of standardised testing.
It will target the construction of 25,000 homes per year by the end of the decade, which would mean 100,000 new homes built in the next parliament, around half of which would be affordable. They would also set a target of all properties achieving at least EPC C rating or above for energy efficiency by 2030 at the latest.
Key justice policies are to look at ways to restore more local accountability to Police Scotland, life meaning life without parole for life sentences and the scrapping of automatic early release of prisoners.
In the areas of work and welfare the Conservatives aim to halve the disability employment gap, raise Carer’s Allowance to the level of Jobseeker’s Allowance and explore the merit of devolving disability benefits to local government.
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