The Liberal Democrats have released their 2015 General Election ‘manifesto with opportunity at its heart’

April 16, 2015 4:47 PM

The 33,000 word document is a detailed and credible plan to build both a stronger economy and a fairer society.

The manifesto includes:

· Opportunity for children: with investment in education from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every classroom

· Opportunity for young people: with more apprenticeships, discounted bus travel, a massive increase in housebuilding and support to rent or own their own home through the innovative Help to Rent and Rent to Own schemes

· Opportunity for parents: with more free childcare and more paternity leave for fathers

· Opportunity for workers: with a further £400 tax cut for millions of working people

· Opportunity for older people: with the pensions triple lock written into law and the extra £8bn a year the NHS needs by 2020 to cope with the pressures of an ageing population

· Opportunity for the next generation: with the budget balanced and our environment protected so that our children and grandchildren are not left to pay for the mistakes of this one

As with the party's 2010 manifesto, the Liberal Democrats' top priorities are spelt out on the front page. They are:

  • Prosperity for all: Balance the budget fairly and invest to build a high-skill, low-carbon economy
  • Opportunity for every child: Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class
  • Fair taxes: Cut your taxes by an additional £400 by raising the Personal Allowance to £12,500
  • Quality healthcare for all: Invest £8bn to improve our NHS and guarantee equal care for mental health
  • Our environment protected: Protect nature and fight climate change with five green laws

Speaking at the launch, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

"This manifesto is a blueprint for a stronger economy and a fairer society. This manifesto is a plan to finish the job of balancing the books, and to do so fairly by protecting our schools, hospitals and public services.

"This manifesto is an insurance policy against a government lurching off to the extremes. At its heart is one word that is absolutely central to what Liberal Democrats believe: opportunity.

"No matter who you are, where you were born, what sexuality or religion you are or what colour your skin is, you should have the same opportunity to get on in life."

On the choice facing voters on 7 May, Nick Clegg said:

"I'm not denying that either David Cameron or Ed Miliband will be Prime Minister. One of them will. But you know and they know that neither of them will win outright. Neither of them will have a majority in Parliament. So what really matters is who they will have by their side.

"Someone is going to hold the balance of power on the 8th of May and it won't be David Cameron or Ed Miliband. But it could be Nigel Farage. It could be Alex Salmond. Or it could be me and the Liberal Democrats.

"So ask yourself this: Do you want Nigel Farage walking through the door of No 10? Do you want Alex Salmond sat at the cabinet table? Or do you want the Liberal Democrats?

"The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government and we will add a brain to a Labour one. We won't allow the Conservatives to cut too much and jeopardise our schools and hospitals.

"And we won't allow Labour to borrow too much and risk our economy again."

Here follows the most pertinent policies from each section of the manifesto. First the front page priorities, then the record of delivery in government and the promise of more over the next five years from each of the chapters:

OUR TOP FIVE PRIORITIES ON THE FRONT PAGE:

Prosperity for all: Balance the budget fairly and invest to build a high-skill, low-carbon economy

Fair taxes: Cut your taxes by an additional £400 by raising the Personal Allowance to £12,500

Quality health care for all: Invest £8 billion to improve our NHS and guarantee equal care for mental health

Opportunity for every child: Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class

Our environment protected: Protect nature and fight climate change with five green laws

PROSPERITY FOR ALL

A Record of Delivery

Billions invested in growing modern British businesses with our Industrial Strategy, Business Bank and Regional Growth Fund

A Promise of More

Double innovation spend in our economy, making the UK a world leader in advanced manufacturing, clean technology and digital industries

Reformed the banking system to separate retail and investment banking and help rebuild our economy

Grow a competitive banking sector, support alternative finance providers and improve access to finance for business and consumers

The world's first Green Investment Bank and low-carbon energy market, helping almost treble renewable electricity generation

Expand the Green Investment Bank and set a legally binding decarbonisation target to green our electricity

Biggest rail investment since Victorian times, driving record numbers of train journeys

Enable more people to travel with rail upgrades across the country and HS2

REAL HELP FOR FAMILY FINANCES

Record of Delivery

An £800 tax cut for low and middle income earners, delivered by letting you earn £10,600 tax free

Promise of More

Raise the Personal Allowance to at least £12,500, cutting your taxes by around £400 more

Secured the biggest ever cash rise in the state pension with our 'triple lock' policy on uprating

Legislate to make the 'triple lock' permanent, guaranteeing decent pensions rises each year

Cut the cost of childcare with more free hours for 3 and 4 year olds, and help for disadvantaged 2 year olds too.

Extend free childcare to all two year olds, and to the children of working families from the end of paid parental leave

Helped people balance work and family life with Shared Parental Leave and the Right to Request flexible working for all

Expand Shared Parental Leave with a 'use it or lose it' month for fathers, and introduce a right to paid leave for carers

Kept welfare spending under control, while blocking plans to cut off young people's benefits

Make sure it pays to work by rolling out Universal Credit, and invest in back-to-work and healthcare support for those who need it

AN OPPORTUNITY SOCIETY

A Record of Delivery

Protection for school budgets and new Pupil Premium cash for your local school to help children who might otherwise fall behind

A Promise of More

Protect early years, school, sixth form and college budgets - investment from nursery to 19 to raise standards for all

A million more children now taught in good or outstanding schools

Parents' Guarantee: core curriculum in every school and every child taught by qualified teachers

Driven up standards and narrowed the attainment gap between rich and poor children

End illiteracy and innumeracy by 2025, with action in nurseries to get all four year olds ready for school by 2020

Free school meals for the youngest children in primary school

Extend free school meals to all primary pupils

Two million apprenticeships, training our young people for 21st century jobs, and record numbers going to university

Double the numbers of businesses hiring apprentices, and give young people aged 16-21 a discount bus pass to cut the cost of travel

BUILDING A HEALTHIER SOCIETY

A Record of Delivery

Increased the NHS budget every year in real terms, helping fund nearly 10,000 more doctors and 7,000 more nurses

A Promise of More

Deliver the £8 billion England's NHS leaders say is needed to keep it strong, with money for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too

Improved access to talking therapies: 2.6 million patients have been treated since 2010

Invest £500m to transform mental health care with waiting time standards to match those in physical health care

£400m invested to give carers a break with our respite fund

Introduce a package of support for carers including a £250 Carer's Bonus every year

Capped the cost of care, so older people can afford to get the help they need

Crack down on bad care, with better pay and conditions for care staff and higher standards for all

BETTER PLACES TO LIVE

A Record of Delivery

Planted a million trees and protected our national forests by blocking plans to sell them off

A Promise of More

Expand accessible green space with new National Nature Parks chosen by local communities, and plant a tree for every child born

Introduced a 5p charge on throwaway plastic bags to reduce waste

Drive up recycling to 70% of household waste and minimise landfill

£500m investment package to promote Ultra Low Emission cars which will cut emissions and improve air quality

Save lives by cleaning up our air, with low emission zones in towns with a pollution problem

Halted the Post Office closure programme and brought broadband to 80% of homes.

Complete broadband rollout to every home, and create an innovation fund to help keep local GPs, post offices and libraries open

A Record of Delivery

Restored house building from record lows to nearly 150,000 a year

A Promise of More

Set an ambitious goal to build 300,000 homes a year, including in 10 new Garden Cities in areas where homes are needed most

Helped families buy a home with Help to Buy equity loans

New Rent to Own homes where your monthly payments steadily buy you a stake in the property

Banned 'revenge evictions' where rogue landlords evict tenants who make complaints

New Help to Rent tenancy deposit loans to help young people get into their first place

Improved the energy efficiency of a million homes since 2013, cutting overall UK energy use by 2.5% a year

Cut Council Tax by £100 for 10 years if you insulate your home, and ban landlords from letting out homes tenants cannot reasonably afford to heat

FREEDOM & OPPORTUNITY

A Record of Delivery

Scrapped ID cards and blocked the so-called Snooper's Charter that would have monitored everyone's internet use

A Promise of More

Protect your privacy by updating data laws for the internet age with a Digital Bill of Rights

Freedoms Act to cut intrusive CCTV, stop fingerprinting children in schools and stop aggressive wheel clamping

A second Freedoms Act to protect free speech, stop heavy-handed policing and ban Mosquito devices that discriminate against young people.

Introduced equal marriage for gay and lesbian couples

Combat homophobic bullying and discrimination, including in schools

Reduced the gender pay gap and increased the number of women on boards

Support a million more women who want to work with better childcare, help with caring responsibilities and action against discrimination

Stopped locking up children of asylum seekers and strengthened rules on police stop and search

Fight discrimination in the criminal justice system and recruit more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic police officers

SECURE COMMUNITIES

A Record of Delivery

Cut crime by 10%, with evidence-based policing directed at the front line

A Promise of More

Focus policing on crime prevention, saving money by scrapping Police and Crime Commissioners

Improved treatment for addiction and mental health problems in prison

Cut crime with specialist drug courts and non-criminal punishments that help addicts get clean

More prisoners working longer hours with wages contributing to a Victims' Fund

Reform prisons to focus on turning offenders away from a life of crime

National strategy on fighting violence against women and girls and ending the awful practice of Female Genital Mutilation

End FGM at home and abroad in a generation, teach sexual consent in our schools, and crack down on domestic violence

Reintroduced border checks so we know who is coming in and leaving the UK

Complete border checks and use the information to improve our visa rules and deport people with no right to stay

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

A Record of Delivery

Passed a Lobbying Act to introduce a register of consultant lobbyists and curb the influence of special interest money in elections

A Promise of More

Get big money out of politics with a £10,000 cap on donations as part of wider funding reform

Fixed term Parliaments, taking away a Prime Minister's power to call elections when it suits their own party

Better democracy with a fair voting system in local government and at Westminster and votes at 16

New powers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including more financial devolution than ever before

Deliver on our promises to Scotland in full, devolve more powers to Wales, and work for a shared future in Northern Ireland

Devolved £7 billion of funding for transport and economic growth to local areas in England.

Meet the needs of England with Devolution on Demand, letting local areas take control of the services that matter most to them

PROSPERITY FOR ALL

A Record of Delivery

Increased aid spending to 0.7% of national income, and guaranteed this in law

A Promise of More

Ensure the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals aim to end poverty, protect the environment and leave no-one behind

Secured a record £23.9 billion last year from clamping down on tax evasion, avoidance and fraud, and won G8 agreement on transparency on the real owners of businesses

Improve tax transparency including in low-income countries by extending country-by-country reporting from banks and extractive industries to all UK listed companies

Passed a law to guarantee a referendum before Britain passes any more powers to the EU

Ensure Britain plays a constructive part in the European Union and any referendum triggered by the EU Act is on the big question: In or Out

Agreed an ambitious EU target of 40% cuts to carbon emissions by 2030, and secured Rio+20 agreements on sustainable development

Work to secure a binding global agreement on cutting emissions, and a stronger commitment within the EU to a 50% reduction by 2030

Supported our armed forces and veterans, enshrining the Armed Forces Covenant in law

Focus on ensuring our armed forces have the training and equipment they need for the threats of today and end continuous nuclear weapon patrols