Welcome to our third and final manifesto breakdown. This time, we’re looking into the Liberal Democrat pledges, and what they could mean if you’re a jobseeker or employer. As always, we’d recommend reading the full Liberal Democrat Manifesto here, as we’re mainly concerned with the impacts to businesses and the workforce in this overview, and there are many other aspects of the manifesto to consider in addition to this. Those that aren’t as directly relevant won’t be included in this breakdown, as a result. What’s more, make sure to have a quick look at the Institute of Fiscal Studies analysis of the manifesto, as well as the Fullfact fact check.
A fairly straight forward start here. The Lib Dems have consistently said they want to revoke article 50 and stay in the EU. Should they be elected, then Brexit will be halted. The party argues that staying in the EU is the best option for the UK economy and, in terms of current deals available, there are strong arguments in favour of this approach. The previous agreement we had with the EU was better than any possible deal we’ll get now, for example.
- Increased opportunities once the uncertainty of Brexit is over, as companies are more likely to start hiring and investing.
- A clear end to Brexit uncertainty, and staying in the EU should mean minimal impact in terms of cost and time, as no new operating procedures, hiring plans, or import/export approaches need to be thought up.
Our Plan for a Stronger Economy
There are a number of potential impacts for both jobseekers and employers in this section of the manifesto, as follows. Firstly, the party want to increase investment in infrastructure, transport, energy systems, schools, and hospitals.
‘Skills Wallets’ would be available to the workforce, meaning each individual would have up to £10,000 worth of training investment to make use of. This, combined with a free careers guidance service, could help people choose the right jobs and associated training.
Trade Unions would be strengthened to help protect workers’ rights and the party would also introduce a payment code for companies larger than 250 employees. A more social approach for businesses would also be encouraged. Employee ownership in a company would also be something that the party want to push, as well as more of a focus on worker participation in decision making. The Lib Dems would also conduct a living wage review, set up a new worker protection agency, and make flexible working an option from day one in a new role. Expanding the apprenticeship levy would also be a priority.
- Upskilling and retraining for the jobs of the future could become more accessible, but training and education will still cost.
- Potentially more opportunities across the North and Midlands.
- Long term prospects in tourism for careers
- Start-up investment could create self-employment/entrepreneur opportunities.
- Potentially more stable retail careers as a result of high street protection.
- Increased investment for creative industries, such as game studios.
- Better internet connectivity could be useful for businesses
- Tax support for certain industries
- Not that great for industries that fall outside this remit, however?
- Start-up allowance
- Small/Medium businesses get priority for fast roll out broadband – not great for larger businesses?
- High street protection could be good for retailers
- Skill gap assessment could help fill the current shortage in the longterm.
Our Plan for Better Education and Skills
Free childcare would be available for children aged two to four. The party also wants to raise starting salaries for teachers to £30,000, and increase this by around 3% per year throughout parliament to help alleviate the current shortage. A Liberal Democrat government would also introduce an official introducing early years qualification, and reverse funding cuts to education. Further education funding would mean grants for less well off students, and a wider range of vocational education opportunities would be made available.
- Free childcare so easier to work and pursue a career
- Additional qualifications
- Better salary if a teacher, more opportunity for teaching, extra training for teachers.
- More accessibility to education and education support could be good for upskilling/young jobseekers
- Potential for more focused staff, due to better childcare
- More vocational training could positively affect industries lacking in those vocational skills.
- Potential for increase in teachers
- Changing the education system to help bridge the skills gap in the long term, and the promotion of skills like critical thinking, could help future proof the workforce over the coming decades.
Our Plan for a Green Society and Green Economy
In their commitment to tackle climate change, the Lib Dems aim to ensure that all companies registered in the UK would be required to set targets consistent with the Paris climate agreement. The party say they would also invest in innovation energy and carbo zero solutions. Fossil fuel subsidies would be ended by 2025, while there would be more investment in the green energy sector like wind and wave power. Better and more extensive advice would be available to companies to help reduce emissions, especially in sectors that have a larger carbon footprint.
- More opportunities in the climate and green sectors potentially.
- Increased spending on climate sciences could mean more roles for related science, research, and academic roles.
- Meeting climate targets could potentially increase costs for some companies, depending on what they do.
- Green investment encouragement could help new and existing green businesses.
- End of fossil fuel subsidies could raise logistics costs, and will of course impact profits for companies operating in the fossil fuels sector.
Our Plan for Health and Social Care
The Lib Dems want to offer more funding for health and social care, using a 1p rise in income tax. They would also tackle social care workforce issues by introducing better career pathways for care workers, as well as additional training up to NVQ level 2. Spending on preventative measures for mental health is also planned. Investment in hospitals, along with more and improved training for health professionals would also be part of the party’s plan, and bursaries for nurses would be reinstated.
- Careers and entry-level jobs in social care more viable and potentially better paid.
- Training support for social care jobs
- Training support for nurses and mental health professionals, as well as increased funding in this area could make these more attractive career options.
- More focus on mental health could increase employee happiness in the long term.
- Additional requirements and legal frameworks for HR departments to consider.
- Healthcare companies could benefit from increased staff levels as a result of investment – a major problem for care providers currently.
Our Plan to Build a Better Society
This part of the manifesto has quite a large potential impact for jobseekers. Universal Credit will be reformed to better support the self-employed, waiting times for payments would be reduced. Increased working allowances, including a second worker allowance, would be implemented to attempt to end working poverty. Increased spending on education and training would be a priority as well. Work capability assessments would be ended.
The party also wants to ensure pensions rise in line with wages, and they would recompensate women born in the 50s due to unfair pension changes. The manifesto also states they want to look into pension inequality for same-sex relationships.
- Better support while you’re looking for a job thanks to quick access to universal credit.
- Additional training and education opportunities could help broaden career prospects.
- Pension rise.
- Easier for those based in more remote communities to get to jobs in larger metropolitan areas, and vice versa, thanks to better transport infrastructure.
- Better employment security and support for the self-employed.
- Potentially increased pool of self-employed/freelancers to draw from.
- Small businesses in more rural communities could benefit from increased business and access to wider talent pools if local transport hubs are upgraded.
- Education and training opportunities for active jobseekers means a more skilled workforce to choose from.
Our Plan for Freedom, Rights and Equality
This section of the manifesto is mainly concerned with human rights and equality for all, many of which will also extend into the workplace.
Statutory paternity leave would be increased to six weeks, and a Lib Dem government would push for a more diverse workforce, with a goal of achieving a 40% female board member ratio for FTSE 350 companies. The Equality Act would extend to all companies with more than 250 employees, and the party wants to enforce data publication protection on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ minorities.
The manifesto pledges to set public diversity targets, and encouraging name-blind recruiting in both the private and public sectors. Free unconscious bias toolkits and training would be provided to all staff. Companies that fail to participate in this program would have access to public funds cut. There would be two-year post-study working visas for international students, and EU freedom of movement would be preserved. Asylum seekers would also be able to work three months after their application. Refugees would benefit from free basic English lessons.
- Existing workers rights in place as a result of EU law will be safeguarded as a result of no Brexit
- Promotion of more equal and diverse workforces should mean more opportunities for those groups currently under-represented.
- Potentially more opportunities for underrepresented groups across multiple sectors thanks to the encouragement of name-blind recruitment processes.
- More opportunities for women in board roles.
- Easier access to employment for asylum seekers
- Easier access to long term career prospects for international students thanks to an improved visa.
- Encouragement for hiring a more diverse workforce could benefit company culture and employee happiness, as well as productivity.
- More opportunity to access skilled/educated international graduates thanks to an extended visa, which could help allay the skills shortage.
- Asylum seekers can get into work quicker, and should have basic English skills, which could mean more of a talent pool to draw on.
- Encouragement and support understanding diversity-related issues could increase workplace happiness and employee retention.
Our Plan for a Better World
Defence is at the forefront of this section of the manifesto. The party states that they would invest an additional £3 billion in the armed forces over the course fo parliament, and also offer £10,000 incentives to those that study STEM subjects to become engineers in the services.
- More opportunities in the armed forces.
- Better support for veterans, and incentives to train for a job the forces in the first place.
- Potentially, a wider pool of skilled veterans to hire in the coming years.
Generally then, the Liberal Democrat Manifesto is very similar to Labour’s in some respects, especially when it comes to working rights, and more employee participation in both the ownership and decision making processes of the companies they work for. There’s a focus on smaller to medium-sized businesses, and both parties want to reform and better fund social care and the NHS.
There are some differences of course. The Lib Dems, while making sure there are plenty of training and educational provisions in place for jobseekers and students, don’t go as far as Labour in offering them for free. Many of the proposals also promise big spending, much like Labour, but there is debate as to whether it’s possible to deliver such major investment without complicating the tax system. If they can, should they be voted in, then there could be some very beneficial policies in place for both employers, jobseekers, and staff.