MSE Leaders' Debate 2017

What the parties have to say

It's the biggest consumer decision most will make in 2017. Voting to choose who should govern has a big impact on the money in your pocket, and everyone else's too – never mind the fact it can change the flavour of the society we live in. It's important to factor everything in, yet consumer issues are not usually widely covered.

To redress that, each general election we hold a leaders' debate, inviting all major party leaders to answer questions within our MoneySaving area.

Remember, they all had the same questions – what they've chosen not to answer can be important too...

Leaders' Debate: The videos

Before we get into detailed answers we asked all party leaders to send a 90-second-ish video to tell us what one key message they would highlight for consumers. Here they are…

Conservatives
Theresa May
No video provided

Labour
Jeremy Corbyn
Click to watch

SNP
Nicola Sturgeon
Click to watch

Liberal Democrats
Tim Farron
Click to watch

Plaid Cymru
Leanne Wood
Click to watch

Green Party
Jonathan Bartley
Click to watch

UKIP
Paul Nuttall
No video provided

Leaders' Debate: Your questions

The questions were suggested by MoneySavers in our forum and on social media then voted on in an MSE poll, plus we've added a couple. We list all the parties in order of the number of their seats at the time Parliament was dissolved. We've left their answers as they've submitted them.

  • We have not built enough homes in this country for generations, which has left too many families facing unaffordable rents or struggling to save up for their first deposit. If we do not put this right, we will be unable to extend the promise of a decent home, let alone home ownership, to the millions who deserve it. So if we are elected on 8 June, my government will fix the dysfunctional housing market so that homes are more affordable and ordinary working people have the security they need to plan for the future.

    We will deliver on our commitment to build a million homes by 2020, and we will build another half a million by the end of the parliament in 2022. This will slow the rise in housing costs so more ordinary working families can afford to buy a home. To achieve that, we will deliver on our existing reforms to free up more land for homes in the right places, speed up building rates and give councils powers to step in when developers are not using planning permissions. We will support high-quality, high-density housing to ensure that those homes are the kind of houses that people want to live in, such as terraced streets, mansion blocks and mews houses.

    But we will go much further, by using the power of housing associations and councils to build many more high-quality affordable homes. To build a new generation of social housing, ambitious councils and housing associations will be given funding, support and new powers to deliver high-quality fixed-term council homes linked to a new Right to Buy for social tenants. The proceeds will be recycled into building more homes, refreshing the stock of social housing.

    And we will help many more people get on the housing ladder and help them when they are there. Since 2010, over 362,000 households have been able to buy a property through government-backed schemes like Help to Buy and the reinvigorated Right to Buy, and we will continue to help people through these schemes. We will tackle unfair practices in leaseholds, such as escalating ground rents. We know that buying a leasehold house can be more expensive than a freehold house in the long run, particularly when ground rents can increase significantly over the lease period. So we will consult on a range of measures to tackle unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold.

    These ambitious policies will mean more and better homes in all parts of the country, as part of my plan to build a stronger Britain.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Labour will introduce a 'New Deal' to tackle the housing crisis with genuinely affordable homes, support for first-time buyers and an inflation cap on rent rises. We will build a million new homes during the course of the next parliament, with at least 100,000 genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy per year by the end of the parliament and the biggest council house-building programme in more than 30 years.

    First-time buyers will be guaranteed 'first dibs' on new homes in their area, with thousands of new discount FirstBuy Homes linked to local average incomes. We will also stop leaseholders being ripped off and help homeowners to pay their mortgage if they lose their job.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Housing is a devolved issue to the Scottish Parliament. The SNP in government is committed to ensuring everyone has access to a warm affordable home. We have delivered over 65,000 affordable homes in our decade in office – 70% of which are for social rent. We have pledged to deliver at least 50,000 in the current Scottish Parliament with 35,000 for social rent. That is an investment of over £3 billion. This is happening in spite of Tory cuts to the Scottish Government's capital budget.

    We've also helped stimulate growing confidence in the private housing market and invested over £0.5 billion to support over 22,000 people into home ownership since 2007. This has benefitted young people particularly with 75% of all sales being under-35s.

    We urgently need to tackle the shortage of affordable homes in this country. Everyone deserves a decent home but, for far too long, we have failed to build enough houses to make that a reality.

    The Liberal Democrats will double the rate of house-building to 300,000 new homes a year. Where the market doesn't deliver, we will step in and use government direct commissioning to get them built. We'll make sure that at least a third of these are affordable, energy-efficient homes, so that we have 500,000 more affordable homes by 2022.

    We'll also give local authorities and housing associations the power to borrow more to build the council and social housing communities badly need.

    As well as the lack of affordable homes, one of the biggest challenges facing first-time buyers is saving enough for a deposit. We'll take that out of the equation by introducing a new 'Rent to Own' model, whereby your monthly rent payments steadily acquire you an increasing stake in the property, until you own it outright after 30 years.

    There are other steps we need to take to bring an affordable home within reach for everyone, including giving councils the power to double council tax on second homes, conducting thorough leasehold reforms and tackling land banking by charging developers council tax on homes not completed after three years.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Plaid Cymru will create a dedicated National Housing Company to build affordable homes in Wales, including some for public rent. The National Housing Company would borrow against rents. We would insist on there being an emphasis on all of these homes being energy efficient.

    Housing policy is devolved to Wales and over the course of this assembly term we would build 10,000 extra houses on top of the existing Government's 20,000 target. We would also allow and encourage local authorities to build social housing to meet local demands.

    Plaid Cymru would legislate to reform the private rented sector to grant tenants longer-term and secure tenancies. This would also help landlords.

    We would continue to support the existing Help to Buy Wales scheme which provides government equity for those needing help to purchase their own homes. Leasehold and freehold reform is also long overdue. The next Parliament should legislate to create greater security and transparency for leaseholders.

    The 'Right to Buy' social housing is being ended in Wales by the Government, ensuring those units remain available for the public.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    We should all have a safe, affordable, secure and warm place to call home and the Green Party would take action to give renters a fair deal, make social housing widely available and bring the housing market under control. We would do this in part by ending mass sales of council houses and scrapping Right to Buy at discounted prices.

    To help first-time buyers we would aim for house price stability, getting rid of buy-to-let tax breaks, and backing community-led approaches to building affordable homes. We'd also lift the local authority borrowing cap to facilitate building 100,000 affordable homes a year by 2022.

    Green MPs in Parliament would back legislation to stop the sale of new-build developments under leasehold. The practice of property developers using leasehold to rip people off should be stopped with freehold and commonhold used in their place, as appropriate.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Related MSE Section: Mortgages and homes

  • Employment is at a record high, with more than 2.8 million in work since 2010 when we began the task of fixing the economic mess Labour left behind. That means 2.8 million more people with a monthly wage packet, and unemployment at its lowest level for 12 years. But we want to go further, and will continue to strive for full employment. If elected on 8 June, we will continue to run the welfare system in accordance with our belief that work is the best route out of poverty, that work should always pay, and that the system should be fair both to the people in need of support and those who pay for it.

    We have no plans for further radical welfare reform in this parliament and will continue the roll-out of universal credit, to ensure that it always pays to be in work. To help people prepare for the world of work, universal credit is paid monthly rather than weekly in the same way as most pay packets. And importantly, under universal credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system – providing stability and security for families.

    I am determined to build a 'Great Meritocracy', where everyone has the chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will allow. So we will work to help those groups who have in the past found it difficult to find work, by incentivising employers to take them on. That means businesses who employ former wards of the care system, someone with a disability, those with chronic mental health problems, those who have committed a crime but who have repaid their debt to society, and those who have been unemployed for over a year, will be offered a holiday on their employers' national insurance contributions for a full year. We will also provide targeted support for young people between the ages of 18 and 24 so that everyone, no matter what their start in life, is given the very best chance of getting into work.

    And we will specifically support those with disabilities, to get one million more people with disabilities into employment over the next 10 years. We will harness the opportunities of flexible working and the digital economy to generate jobs for those whose disabilities make traditional work difficult. We will give employers the advice and support they need to hire and retain disabled people and those with health conditions. We will continue to ensure a sustainable welfare system, with help targeted at those who need it most. We will legislate to give unemployed disabled claimants or those with a health condition personalised and tailored employment support. The disability living allowance, and the personal independence payment which is replacing it – and which provides better support for people with mental health conditions – are excluded from the benefit cap and will continue to rise with the Consumer Prices Index.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Labour will review and redesign the benefits system, making it more effective at reducing poverty and supporting people to find decent work. We will scrap the bedroom tax, reinstate housing benefit for under-21s, and reverse cuts to bereavement support payment.

    We'll also end the Conservatives' punitive sanctions regime and restore the principle that social security provides support to, rather than demonises, people. And review the disastrous universal credit, committing to an extra £2 billion.

    We will implement the court decision on PIP [personal independence payments] and replace the work capability and PIP tests with a personalised, holistic assessment that provides people with a tailored plan.

    We will increase employment and support allowance by £30 a week for those in the work-related activity group and repeal cuts in the universal credit limited capacity for work element. We will commission a report into expanding the Access to Work programme, to help tackle the barriers to work faced by many people with disabilities.

    Our pledge to increase the national minimum wage to £10 an hour will reduce government spending on benefits and ensure that millions of low-paid workers receive a pay rise.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    We are committed to bringing an end to the Tories' damaging austerity agenda, which has seen increasing hardship for those that depend on the social security safety net. We want an end to the freeze on working age benefits, which have been so damaging to our communities.

    Earlier this year, the SNP Scottish Government called for an immediate halt to the roll-out of the full service of universal credit due to the damage it's causing people. The inbuilt six-week wait that new claimants face before receiving their first payment is not acceptable, and the UK Government are doing nothing whilst people fall into hardship and debt. Halting the roll-out of universal credit would be a good place to start. Our newly devolved employability support programmes for disabled people are voluntary and not part of the benefit sanctions regime. We see this as an opportunity to support people into employment.

    Back-to-work assessments are not for disability benefits but for employment and support allowance. We have been vocal in our criticism of these assessments which are not fit for purpose and we would scrap this along with the callous and cruel benefits sanctions regime that targets the most vulnerable.

    Disability benefits including DA and PIP [personal independence payment] are not related to employment and are due to be devolved to Scotland and the SNP Scottish Government is taking an entirely different approach. We are building a rights-based approach to our new social security system with dignity and respect at its heart. We have consulted and are engaging with people every step of the way in order to ensure that our social security system is based around their needs.

    We are committed to making work pay, but also to supporting those in most need of social security payments and giving everyone a decent standard of living, not facing the deep hardship that the Tories have left people in. We are committed to making the national living wage match the real living wage, increasing incomes and ensuring that those in work have enough to live off. In Scotland our work to promote the living wage means we lead the UK nations and 80% of employees are paid at least the living wage.

    This government's assault on the poorest and most vulnerable in society must end. That's why the Liberal Democrats will end the Conservatives' freeze on working-age benefits and uprate them each year at least in line with inflation. We'll also reverse their cuts to universal credit, employment support allowance (for those in the work-related activity group) and child tax credit – including ending the unfair two-child policy. We do need to balance the country's books, but that must not be done on the backs of the poor.

    The way to encourage people into work is not to cut their benefits, but to make sure they can keep more of them when they enter work. By reversing the cuts to work allowances in universal credit, we will enable people to work for longer before their benefits are cut – making sure that it always pays to work and to take on more hours.

    We will also scrap the discredited work capability assessment, which far too often deems people 'fit to work' who are not. We'll replace it with a new system that is run by local authorities rather than private companies, and that makes a proper assessment of people's ability to work, including a real-world test based on the sorts of jobs that are available locally.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Plaid Cymru MPs opposed the cuts to social security and welfare that have been made by the Conservative Government, as well as opposing the "reforms" by the previous UK Labour Government, which led to the system being opened up to private providers. The worst cuts of all are those which have impacted on people with disabilities.

    Plaid Cymru would get rid of the profit motive when it comes to companies making assessments for benefit claims. Assessments would be made by medical professionals or other trained staff, not private companies.

    People should always earn more in work than they can on benefits. The best way to ensure this is by increasing wages and skills, not by cutting benefits. Plaid Cymru wants to see a real living wage, set by an independent commission, and an end to compulsory zero-hour contracts.

    Plaid Cymru wants Wales to have its own social security system like Scotland, where the damaging changes to universal credit are being mitigated and reduced. Under a Welsh system we would be able to act more fairly and compassionately, whilst maintaining the link between welfare and jobs.

    We want to end the bedroom tax and have proposed a no-evictions policy. In Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd Council we have introduced mitigation measures which have helped 1,300 families who would otherwise have been affected by the bedroom tax.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    The Green Party would redress benefits injustice with a social security system that means everyone can have confidence that they will get support when they need it. We'd undo the benefits freeze, scrap the bedroom tax and reinstate housing benefit for 18 to 25-year-olds. Crucially, we'd also fund a universal basic income pilot, to increase security and help people avoid the poverty trap. A universal basic income is a non-means-tested payment to everyone and is an idea that's also being piloted in places like Finland and Canada. This totally different system would also move us away from universal credit, which is deeply flawed.

    Whether working or on benefits, we want everyone to be able to live a good life. The social security system is there to provide a safety net at the times we need it and to incentivise people who can work into work, along with training, a living wage and investment in creating good jobs. Lots of important work, such as caring, is often unpaid, while many people who would like to work are too sick or disabled to do so. A universal basic income would make sure unpaid work is rewarded, while also freeing people to pursue fulfilling careers and carry out socially beneficial volunteering, for example.

    Fourteen per cent of our election candidates are disabled and we are very proud of our record on disabled rights. We'd scrap work capability assessments and replace them with proper support to get disabled people into meaningful work, alongside practical and financial help to enable disabled people to live their lives to the full. We would also get rid of the employment and support allowance cut for new claimants, and ditch sanctions.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

  • Getting the right Brexit deal is the key to our future economic prosperity and security, and only I have the plan and ability to get that deal – in stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn who has no plan for the negotiations which begin just 11 days after the general election and would be in a coalition of chaos with the Lib Dems and SNP pulling the strings.

    Consumers are at the heart of my manifesto because I am determined to make sure that markets are fair. As a Conservative, I believe in markets as the best means to bring about prosperity and innovation. But Conservatives also believe that it is the responsibility of government to act firmly and fast when a market works against the interests of consumers. Since 2010, we have capped the cost of credit for expensive payday lenders and will shortly ban letting agent fees. If we are elected on 8 June, we will go further to reform markets in the interests of consumers and reduce the cost of living.

    As we leave the European Union, our Great Repeal Bill will make sure that current EU law on consumer protection will be preserved in domestic law, giving consumers clarity in their domestic rights and obligations and stability and certainty to businesses.

    But even as we protect existing consumer rights, we must act to make consumer markets work fairly and to tackle rising living costs for ordinary working people. So we will bring in legislation to strengthen the hand of regulators to order fines against companies breaking consumer law and to put a duty on regulators to weigh up the needs of vulnerable customers. We will improve the information available to consumers, by making terms and conditions clearer, ending the abusive use of subscription services and ensure offers make clear when free trials come to an end.

    And we will take action in markets where we know consumers are currently being let down. We will modernise the home-buying process to make it more efficient and less costly. We will make billing for telecoms fairer and easier to understand, including making clear when a mobile customer has paid off the cost of a handset. And we will review rail ticketing, removing complexity and perverse pricing, and introduce a passenger ombudsman to act in the interests of rail users suffering a poor deal.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    We are determined to enshrine all EU-derived consumer rights laws into UK legislation, and will make this a central part of our Brexit negotiation strategy.

    Our EU Rights and Protections Bill will ensure there is no detrimental change to workers' rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Tory plans for a devastating, extreme Brexit are set to have a deeply damaging impact on all aspects of our society – whether that is on the environment, for our universities, or on consumer rights.

    We have seen the Tories gearing up to put a whole host of protections on their Brexit bonfire, including workers' and consumers' rights. The Tories have utterly failed to make suitable guarantees that our consumers will have the same protections and rights after Brexit as they do at present.

    The Scottish Government put forward substantial proposals that would have guaranteed Scotland's place in the EU single market, and we have consistently called for the Tories to drop their opposition to remaining members of the EU single market. Remaining in the single market is the easiest way for us to maintain the vital and consumer protections that we currently enjoy as part of the EU. We also argue for all consumer protection powers to be devolved to Scotland – which would give us the chance to put the interests of consumers first – not those of big business.

    As well as being disastrous for jobs, the economy and our public services, the extreme form of Brexit being pursued by Theresa May could also jeopardise many of the rights and protections we enjoy as workers and consumers. Many of those protections are currently based on EU law and the judgments of the European Court of Justice. The Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure that consumer rights are not undermined by Brexit.

    The truth is that we don't yet know what Brexit will look like. The decisions Theresa May makes in these negotiations will affect the life of every single person in our country for decades to come. That's why we think you should have the final say on the Brexit in a referendum. And if you don't like that deal, you should have the choice to remain in the EU. It's about giving you your choice about your future.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Plaid Cymru supports the need to guarantee consumer rights outside of the EU. We have advocated replicating the current EU regulations and standards. There should be an early guarantee on this from the UK Government. Better informed and protected consumers lead to a better economy, and also helps business.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    The Green Party supported the Remain campaign and continue to believe that membership of the EU makes our future more hopeful and secure. We will demand that the terms of the final deal are closely scrutinised and a ratification of the final deal including an option to remain. Nobody voted to tear up our consumer protections and if these are not part of any Brexit deal, we should have the democratic right to stay part of the EU. We do not accept that either a "hard" Brexit or an exit from the EU without a deal is in the interests of the British people. We will be actively campaigning to safeguard jobs, uphold basic rights, and put environmental protection and consumer rights at the heart of any future trade deals. We'd very much support the creation of a consumer-focused group working across departments to embed consumer and other rights in the Brexit negotiations.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

  • It is clear to me that the energy market is not working for ordinary working families. Too many people simply aren't getting a fair deal, and gas and electricity bills only ever seem to go in one direction. If I am re-elected on 8 June, I will take action to end this injustice by introducing a cap on unfair energy price rises.

    Energy suppliers have long operated a two-tier market, where those constantly checking for the best deal can do well but those who don't actively check or cannot do so are punished with higher prices. Those hit worst are households with lower incomes, people with lower qualifications, people who rent their home and the elderly. We will act on their behalf, by introducing a safeguard tariff cap to protect energy customers from abusive price increases. This will extend the protection we have already given some vulnerable customers to more customers on the poorest value tariffs.

    At the same time, we will maintain the competitive element of the retail energy market by supporting initiatives to make the switching process easier and more reliable, and we will ensure that smart meters will be offered to every household and business by the end of 2020, giving people control over their energy bills that they have not had before.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Electricity bills soared by 20% between 2007 and 2013. In 2013 alone, £120 was paid by every household in the UK into dividends to energy company shareholders.

    Labour will cap energy bills to stop them from rising any further and support the creation of a publicly owned, locally accountable energy company or co-operative in every region across the UK. This will ensure consumers have choice, and bring down bills, putting money back into people's pockets, rather than subsidising shareholders' profits.

    To cut through the complexity and lack of transparency of the current system, we would require bills to display the supplier charges and how much the consumer would have paid, were they to use a publicly owned company, to ensure consumers are informed about the options available to them.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Successive Westminster governments have cost consumers billions of pounds by failing to make the energy market work for families – and the time for changing this is long overdue. We need to see bills reduced and transparency in our energy system.

    By electing SNP MPs to Westminster, people can be sure that we will press the UK Government to enact an energy price cap on standard variable tariffs, and we'll call for an introduction of a new duty to be placed on energy companies to set out a clear timetable to reduce the number of people on prepayment meters.

    We will also require energy companies to prioritise the roll-out of smart meters to households at risk of fuel poverty, and we'll introduce financial health checks to help people switch to the lowest energy tariffs and provide advice on energy use.

    And we'll take new action, alongside [regulator] Ofgem, to identify those at risk of fuel poverty – and bring about new legislation to ensure those at risk are on the lowest possible energy tariff, starting with those eligible for the cold weather payment.

    There is a real problem with rocketing energy bills and action needs to be taken to reduce them, in three key ways.

    The first is to make sure homes are better insulated, which will cut bills significantly. The Liberal Democrats will set new energy-efficiency targets, and make sure that at least four million homes are raised to 'Band C' by 2022.

    Our priority will be to improve the energy efficiency of fuel-poor households, cutting bills for those who need it the most. For new homes, we'll ensure that all of them are built to a zero-carbon standard, something that we introduced in coalition but the Conservatives have since scrapped.

    The second is to make sure people are switching to cheaper tariffs. They can do this by switching suppliers or by switching to a cheaper tariff from their existing supplier – we need stronger obligations on suppliers to inform their customers of the options and a public awareness campaign.

    Thirdly we need to make the energy market more competitive, by opening it up to smaller suppliers who can take on the 'big six'. We massively increased the number of smaller companies in the market during coalition, and they are growing in market share, but we need to ensure that public policy helps competition rather than stifles it as a price cap would do – inadvertently pushing up bills.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Governments should regulate the energy market to keep prices down and tackle fuel poverty.

    For Wales specifically, a Plaid Cymru government would create a national energy company, 'Energy Wales', to produce and sell electricity directly to people. Such an innovative company would enter the existing market and, without needing to pay its shareholders, invest all surpluses into reducing bills. At the moment Wales generates more electricity than it uses, yet bills here are often higher than the rest of the UK. Lower prices would be a way of addressing this inequity.

    I switched provider about five months ago and did it over the phone. I change tariff quite regularly.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    The Green Party wants to go further than simply getting people on to cheaper deals. We would seek to introduce progressive energy tariffs, so that small consumers pay less per unit than large ones, special needs are recognised, people are not cut off when they can't afford to pay, and nobody is forced to have prepayment meters. We would invest in community-owned energy which generates clean energy, tackles fuel poverty and could bring down bills. Crucially though we argue that the best way to bring down bills is with a Warm Homes Programme of home insulation.

    I switch every year via uSwitch or other switching sites, but I also installed solar panels on my roof myself by hand.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Related MSE SectionEnergy

  • It was the Conservatives in government that introduced financial literacy education in 2014, as part of the national curriculum at key stages 3 and 4. The Money Charity has found that nine out of 10 schools teach financial education, but we recognise more needs to be done. We recently legislated to consult on a new personal, social, health and economic [PSHE] education curriculum, with a power to make teaching PSHE mandatory pending the results of that consultation.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    It is vitally important that young people are equipped to manage their finances and make informed financial decisions in adult life. Labour will reverse the Conservatives' cuts so that schools have the resources they need to deliver a broad curriculum. Schools are currently scheduled to lose £3 billion a year in funding by 2020, whereas a Labour government will add £6.3 billion to annual school budgets by the end of the next parliament.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Financial education in Scotland is delivered through Curriculum for Excellence. We recognise the importance of building financial capability in all our young people and the Curriculum for Excellence provides opportunities for schools to adopt a coordinated approach to financial education that works across the school's curriculum.

    There are four aspects of financial capability in the Scottish provision:

    • Financial understanding

    • Financial competence

    • Financial responsibility

    • Financial enterprise

    The national education body, Education Scotland, works with a range of partners to run a Scottish Financial Education Week. This year, it ran from 20-24 March and had a series of events to promote money management for children, young people and young adults and to raise awareness of the importance of financial education both in schools and in the wider community.

    It's important that, at school, we prepare young people for the big decisions they'll have to make throughout their lives regarding their finances. I've long supported financial literacy's place on the curriculum – before I became leader of the Liberal Democrats, I was a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People – and am glad that we put it there in coalition government.

    Of course, the quality of financial education relies on the Government giving schools the money they need and valuing our teachers properly. That's why the Liberal Democrats will invest an extra £7 billion in schools and colleges, to make sure funding rises in line with both inflation and pupil numbers. We'll also end the Conservatives' public sector pay freeze, so that teachers finally receive the raises they deserve.

    We'll introduce a slimmed-down core curriculum that every state-funded school must teach, including academies and free schools. That core curriculum will include financial literacy, as well as other important life skills such as first aid, mental health education and age-appropriate sex and relationship education.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Plaid Cymru has been pushing for this in the National Assembly, because education in Wales is decided there. A Plaid Cymru politician, Bethan Jenkins AM, had a Private Members' Bill to get financial literacy into the Welsh curriculum. We were grateful to Martin Lewis who welcomed this proposal by Plaid Cymru.

    Following discussions with the Welsh Government, we have been told that financial education is "embedded" in the new Welsh curriculum. But similarly to England, we need to ensure that additional resources are committed. I am not convinced that the status of the subject has yet been elevated, but Plaid Cymru will continue to champion this vitally important policy objective.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Caroline Lucas, Green MP from 2010-17 and candidate in this election, has led the parliamentary campaign for personal, social, health and economic education to be made compulsory. There has been some recent legislative success following this campaign, but it now must be implemented. Green MPs in Parliament would work hard to ensure that economic and financial education for all young people would be implemented by 2019 at the latest, and that teachers get high-quality ongoing training in this vital subject.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Related MSE SectionFinancial education

  • The Conservatives will always be the party that keeps tax as low as possible and spends the proceeds responsibly. It is our firm intention to reduce taxes on Britain's businesses and working families, so people keep more of what they earn for their hard work.

    Since 2010, we have given 31 million people across the country a tax cut worth more than £1,000 by increasing the personal allowance from £6,475 to £11,500. We will increase that allowance further, to £12,500 by 2020 – as well as increasing the threshold for the higher rate of income tax to £50,000 by the same date. In contrast, the independent IFS [Institute for Fiscal Studies] say Jeremy Corbyn would raise taxes to the highest levels ever seen in peacetime – with families and businesses across the income scale paying the price.

    A good tax system is not just about the headline rates of tax, however, but about its simplicity. As we have set out in our manifesto, our tax system remains too complicated, making it hard for people – especially self-employed people and small businesses – to assess their taxes. So we will simplify the tax system.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Under a Labour government, only the highest earners, the top 5% of taxpayers, will be asked to contribute a bit more to help fund our vital public services, which have been cut to the bone by the Conservatives.

    We have guaranteed that 95% of taxpayers will be protected from any increase in income tax, personal national insurance contributions and VAT. The Conservatives have refused to make the same guarantee.

    Labour forced the Conservatives to U-turn on their proposed increase in national insurance for the self-employed this year, which they had pledged not to increase in their 2015 manifesto. They have repeatedly refused to rule out re-introducing it after the election. Labour will guarantee not to increase the rate of class 4 national insurance contributions for the self-employed.

    Labour is the party of low taxes for middle and low earners, while the Conservatives are the party of tax handouts for the super-rich and big corporations. We have published our fully costed plans, unlike the Conservatives who have refused to do so.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Income tax powers have recently been devolved to Scotland – and we have taken our own approach to the issue in Scotland. Rather than pursuing tax cuts for the wealthiest, as the Tories have proposed, or tax rises for the poorest, as Labour have proposed, the Scottish Government has chosen to maintain the top rate of tax at 45p, with a commitment to explore how to most effectively prevent people from shifting their income to other parts of the UK with lower top rates of tax.

    Without full powers to tackle tax evasion, which continue to be reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government is operating as best it can with one arm tied behind its back. At this election, we support an increase in the additional rate from 45p to 50p across the UK, allowing those with the most money to contribute more to protect public services – and allowing the Scottish Government to take the same action in Scotland.

    We are also committed to opposing any proposed increase in the basic rate of tax, VAT or national insurance.

    Taxes should be fair and they should be simple. In coalition, we raised the personal allowance, cutting income tax by £900 a year for most people and taking three million low-income workers out of paying income tax altogether. Our aim is to help those on low and middle incomes, and to ensure that those on the highest incomes, and large international companies, make a fair contribution.

    However, we are also being honest about the need to raise income tax rates by 1p to fund our NHS and social care services. We will ring-fence all of the £6 billion a year that will raise for health and care services, to make sure everyone has access to high-quality care throughout their lives.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    For the UK rates of tax, Plaid Cymru will not increase tax for the lowest or middle earners. We will vote in favour of increasing the additional rate, which affects people who earn £150,000 or more, from 45% to 50%.

    Plaid Cymru MPs opposed the attempts by the Conservatives to disadvantage those who are self-employed.

    Once Wales or the UK is outside of the EU, we would like to have the ability to vary VAT and corporation tax rates for specific sectors to incentivise job creation. We have said that VAT should be cut on tourism and on housing renovation.

    Tax is changing in Wales and in the future people will pay half of our income tax to the UK Treasury and the other half to Wales. We will still not be allowed by Westminster to change the thresholds, but have no plans to increase income tax.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    The Green Party think we need a more progressive taxation system so those with the broadest shoulders take on more responsibility. We would increase the tax rate paid at the top to 60% but not change other income tax bands or rates. We would also impose a wealth tax on the top 1%, reinstate the higher level of corporation tax for large businesses and reform inheritance tax so it is paid according to the wealth of the recipient, not the donor.

    We know that self-employment is growing and have worked in the past to ensure a fairer tax system for those who are self-employed, especially small business owners and those who chose self-employment as a way to increase flexibility. Our goal would be to ensure everyone can earn a decent wage, enjoy as much job security as possible and to encourage a diverse and creative economy. We would make changes to the tax system to this end.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

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  • On my first day in Downing Street I said mental illness was one of the burning injustices in our country, which for too long has been seen as a secondary issue compared to physical health problems. I am committed to putting that right.

    I recognise that for some people, the cost of living can become too great – sometimes with harrowing consequences. Problem debt can be hard to escape and can compound family breakdown, worklessness, stress and mental health issues.

    To help those trapped in problem debt, we will adopt a 'Breathing Space' scheme. This would give people with serious debt problems the chance to apply for legal protection from further interest, charges and enforcement action for up to six weeks – preventing more debt from piling up and protecting them from worries about being chased. They may also, if appropriate, be offered a repayment plan to help them pay back their debts in a manageable way, giving them time to get advice and assistance. We will also end the horrific practice of GPs charging for mental health and debt forms.

    Alongside this, we will take concerted action to tackle the injustice when those struggling with mental health issues in this country find there is no help at hand. We will replace the outdated Mental Health Act with a new bill which has parity of esteem and capacity at its heart. And we will transform how mental illness is treated in society, by reforming workplace discrimination and health and safety laws to take better account of mental ill-health, and investing in mental-health first-aid training for staff in schools.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Stagnating incomes have forced many to take on more debt and in-work poverty is at record levels. Labour will ensure that work pays by raising the minimum wage to the level of the living wage for all workers aged 18 or over.

    We will introduce a version of Scotland's debt arrangement scheme to give breathing space to households struggling with high debts. This has proved successful in averting evictions and county court judgments, which can exacerbate the stress and mental health issues associated with debt.

    We will also reverse the damage done to mental health services under the Conservatives. By ring-fencing mental health budgets and directing funding to the frontline, we will ensure everyone who experiences a mental health problem, 1 in 4 people each year, can access the support they need.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    The Scottish Government has been taking decisive action to help those with mental health difficulties. In our manifesto ahead of the 2016 elections, we committed to increasing the share of the NHS budget being spent on mental health every year, and bringing forward a new mental health strategy which will help to transform the support service that sufferers receive.

    Of course, there is a link between monetary concerns and debt and mental health issues – and this is something that needs to be tackled. While the support that we offer is invaluable, there is a need to work to ensure that people don't get into monetary problems which can then have a knock-on impact on their mental health. This is why our pledges on boosting low pay, on ending the benefits freeze, and our opposition to the austerity agenda that stifles incomes is so important.

    Also in Scotland, we have different ways of dealing with personal debt which is much more suitable for people needing support. Our Debt Arrangement Scheme ensures that people with the support and advice of an approved money adviser are provided with the breathing space that allows them to repay their debts through a debt payment programme over an extended period of time. This scheme ensures protection from threat of any legal action whilst this debt is being repaid.

    First and foremost, we must end the inequality between mental health care and the standards we rightly demand for physical health. I'm proud of the strides the Liberal Democrats made towards parity for mental health in coalition. We introduced the first waiting time standards, doubled the number of people receiving talking therapy and secured an extra £1.25 billion for children and young people's services. But, despite that progress, frontline mental health services are still terribly underfunded, and too many people simply don't have access to the care they need.

    The Liberal Democrats will ring-fence £1 billion for mental health services from the £6 billion raised by putting an extra 1p on income tax. That £1 billion will be used to increase access to treatment, so that no one has to wait more than six weeks to start therapy for anxiety or depression, as well as to improve emergency care for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

    But we also need to understand and tackle the link between mental ill-health and financial difficulties. We need to bring down the particular barriers many people with mental ill-health face when it comes to accessing bank accounts and other financial services. The Liberal Democrats will act to tackle financial exclusion, including by making it a key objective of the Financial Conduct Authority. In addition, the practice of charging patients for letters confirming to creditors that they have mental ill-health – a practice that only serves to exacerbate these problems – must end.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Plaid Cymru candidates are hearing anecdotally of links between debt and mental health. It's not just affecting those on low incomes who may be vulnerable to loan sharks; mental health is strained right across society and can affect those with wealth too. Affordable repayment plans are one way to reduce people's anxieties when it comes to debt.

    Plaid Cymru is committed to spending more money and more attention on mental health services, especially preventative interventions. Plaid Cymru has secured an extra £20 million per year so far from budget negotiations with the Welsh Government. But the link between debt and mental health problems isn't being made yet. Debt must be recognised as a cause of mental illness and stress, so that preventative treatments and financial plans can be put in place.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Green MPs would bring mental health care in line with physical health care and ensure people experiencing mental health crises are supported close to their home and support networks – and we will always vote for a fairer tax system that helps those at the bottom to get out of debt, and onto a secure financial footing.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

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    Related MSE Guide: Mental health and debt

  • As our manifesto makes clear, we will act to make markets work better for consumers – and this is precisely the kind of problem we want to address. Our plans include strengthening the powers of regulators, considering a duty on regulators to weigh up the needs of vulnerable consumers, and making terms and conditions clearer. We will also act to reform and modernise the home-buying process so it is more efficient and less costly for those purchasing a home.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    The number of affordable homes to buy has plummeted by two-thirds under the Conservatives, so we will build thousands more low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers only.

    A Labour government will give leaseholders security from rip-off ground rents and end the routine use of leasehold houses in new developments. We will be publishing a mini-manifesto on housing that will set out in depth our policies in this crucial area.

    We will also review the rules on mortgage affordability assessments to consider removing any unnecessary rules which have led to some borrowers being stuck on expensive deals, preventing them from switching to a cheaper option.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    This is something we would be willing to look at but we recognise that it is up to mortgage providers to ensure they are being competitive and providing the right products for people. Our successful Help to Buy and Shared Equity programmes have helped people onto the housing ladder.

    No one should be arbitrarily denied a better mortgage deal and trapped into paying higher rates. We will review affordability criteria and ensure that they are fair for people with all levels of wealth. Our 'Rent to Own' model, under which monthly rent payments buy tenants an increasing share in their home until they own it outright after 30 years, would make home ownership possible for more people without the need for a mortgage or upfront deposit.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    It is alarming that some mortgage providers can do this. The Financial Ombudsman must have sufficient powers to help people trapped on high-rate mortgages. Plaid Cymru MPs would take up the case of any constituents who have this problem.

    I support the principle that evidence of rent repayments could be used as a substitute for part of a deposit, as long as such a system doesn't entice people into mortgages that they can't afford. We need to learn from the mistakes of unaffordable mortgages in the past.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Green MPs would campaign for an end to the unfair treatment of mortgage-payers by banks who refuse to transfer property owners onto cheaper mortgage tariffs, and work with the Bank of England to assess how rental payments could be used to support applications for a first mortgage. We'd also support the right to rent as an option for anyone struggling to pay their mortgage. This would allow you to stay in your home as a renter rather than risk losing it.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

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    Related MSE SectionMortgages

  • A Conservative government led by me will not duck the big challenges we face as a nation and there are few issues that are greater than the need for good-quality, affordable housing. If I am elected on 8 June, I will act to fix the dysfunctional housing market, not just to build more homes for ownership but also to make renting a home in Britain more affordable and secure. A Conservative government will deliver on our commitment to build one million homes by 2020 and half a million more by 2022, including by working with ambitious councils to build a new generation of fixed-term council houses for affordable rent.

    And I will act to improve protections for those who rent, to prevent them being ripped off by landlords, discriminated against, or charged extortionate fees. We will encourage more landlords to offer longer, more secure tenancies as standard and strengthen the enforcement of equalities laws to prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants on the basis of colour. And as we have already announced, we will legislate to ban letting agents' fees.

    It is part of my determination to build a better Britain our children and grandchildren are proud to call home and where everyone has the chance to get on in life.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    We will introduce new consumer rights for tenants so they can call time on rogue landlords, with new legal minimum standards to ensure properties are fit for human habitation, a ban on letting agency fees and a landlord licensing scheme.

    We will also introduce controls on rent rises and make secure three-year tenancies the norm. There are particular pressures in London, so we will look at giving the Labour mayor Sadiq Khan powers to offer renters in the capital extra security.

    We will also reverse the cruel decision to abolish housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    We are taking action to improve the private rented sector in Scotland – by improving the standards of properties in this area and promoting energy efficiency.

    In 2016, the Scottish Government took important action to improve the private rented sector that modernised the sector by creating simpler tenancies, and offer stability and security to 700,000 tenants across Scotland. Our new laws provide improved security for tenants, meaning they cannot be asked to leave their home simply because the tenancy agreement has reached its end date, and bringing about a more streamlined renting system. In addition rents can only be increased once a year and with three months' notice. Councils were also given powers to ask for rent caps in areas where there are extreme rent pressures.

    For many years now we have had a Deposit Protection Scheme which ensures people's deposits are secure and can be returned. In addition in government we outlawed letting agent fees in Scotland in 2012 – something that only now other political parties are catching up with.

    For too many people, it's not just home ownership that's out of reach, but even the prospect of renting a home of their own. More than a third of people in their 20s now live with their parents – and the need for a sizeable deposit is a significant barrier to renting. The Liberal Democrats will establish a new Help to Rent scheme that will offer government-backed tenancy deposit loans to first-time renters under 30, of up to £1,500 outside London and £2,000 in London. We'll also remove another unfair barrier to renting by banning lettings fees for tenants, something we've been campaigning on extensively.

    Too many people who rent privately get a bad deal. We will raise the minimum standards that landlords have to meet, and give tenants more security by promoting longer tenancies of three years or more. We'll also protect tenants against rogue landlords, through mandatory licensing and access to a database of rogue landlords and property agents.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Plaid Cymru has made a number of proposals to get rid of letting agents' fees here in Wales, but the Labour Welsh Government has been slow to act.

    A regulated and transparent private rented sector is in the interests of both tenants and landlords. We would introduce restrictions in rent increases within tenancies so that they are proportionate and fair; and reform tenancy law to grant renters longer-term and more secure tenancies.

    Plaid Cymru has always acted as an advocate for fair rents.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    More and more of us are in the private rented sector and the Green Party wants to make renting more affordable by ensuring more homes are built to keep pace with demand. We'd give renters real security with a living rent for all, through rent controls, and more secure tenancies for private renters. We would end letting fees and mandatory licensing for all landlords, as well as supporting the development of renters' unions to give tenants a voice.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

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    Related MSE Section50+ tips for renters

  • We are committed to supporting savers at all stages of their lives, that#s why we have almost doubled ISA limits since 2010 and have introduced the new Lifetime ISA. The Lifetime ISA allows people to save up to £4,000 each year and receive a generous bonus of up to £1,000 a year on these contributions, which can then be withdrawn tax-free to put towards a first home or when the policyholder turns 60. We will continue to promote long-term savings and pensions products, including the Lifetime ISA, to encourage and incentivise more people to make provision for long-term needs, including a house purchase and retirement.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Our policies to tackle rising housing, energy, water and transport costs, and to raise wages, will put more money in people's pockets, giving more people the opportunity to save.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    The best way to ensure savers see a decent return on their nest eggs is by taking action to boost our economy. A buoyant, growing and sustainable economy provides greater opportunity for savings to remain secure and grow along with the economy. It provides a wider range of opportunities for savers and investors to see a fair return on their savings and investments. We have seen that the Tories – over the last seven years – are not able to do this whilst wedded to their failed and disastrous austerity agenda.

    Prospects for savers are only going to get worse if the Tories drag us over the cliff edge of a hard Brexit, which is set to damage the economy and cost up to 80,000 jobs across Scotland, and has already seen savers lose out.

    To protect savers and to get our economy growing again, the Scottish Government has been doing all we can with our limited economic powers, such as protecting jobs and businesses through our small business bonus scheme which has seen 100,000 business premises taken out of business rates. We are investing in infrastructure through our £6 billion capital building programme, which is helping to keep the economy going at these difficult times.

    The UK Government needs to end its austerity obsession, which has merely plunged millions into hardship whilst missing every single target the Tories have aimed for on reducing the deficit. Their failed economic policy is simply not working – and the knock-on effect that it is having on savers and investors is a real problem.

    Only by promoting public investment rather than forcing through damaging cuts will our economy grow, and savers see the benefit of this.

    I want to make Britain the best place in the world to save for, and enjoy, your retirement. As life expectancy rises, older people will need pension incomes that last a lot longer. We need to make the system of tax relief on pension contributions simpler, fairer and more generous for most people. That's why the Liberal Democrats will establish a review to consider a single rate of tax relief, set higher than the current 20% basic rate relief.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Low interest rates are good for governments who want to borrow and invest in the creaking infrastructure in Wales, which is a priority for Plaid Cymru. Governments should take advantage of this while they can.

    In terms of consumers and savers, we are in the hands of the Bank of England who are supposed to decide interest rates independently.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Our economy is distorted by crippling housing costs, so whilst low interest rates are valued by families struggling with mortgages, savers are penalised. This is clearly a very difficult problem and Greens would take a long-term approach, rebalancing the housing market, so that over time people start to see value in saving, without mortgage holders facing unaffordable interest rate hikes. We would invest in community banks, mutually owned and serving local areas or particular groups. It is also vital that we have a decent basic state pension, so that people are not penalised for saving by a system with too much means-testing: that's a key reason why the Green Party backs the idea of a citizen's pension.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

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     Related MSE SectionSavings

  • One of the great challenges we face as a country is that our society is ageing. It's great that people are living longer but that has an impact in terms of the services we have to provide and ensuring people can have dignity in their old age.

    Where others have failed to lead, we will act. We have already taken immediate action, putting £2 billion into the social care system and allowing councils to raise more money for care themselves from council tax. We are now proposing medium and long-term solutions to put elderly care in our country on a strong and stable footing.

    At the moment if you require care and you have savings of more than £23,000, you have to pay for that care and if the care you require is residential care then the value of your house is taken into account. So what happens is that people are paying for care, many people are having to sell their house to pay for those care bills and many find that they are not able to leave money to their families. I want to take those risks away, and have put forward a set of proposals to achieve that. My plan will make sure that nobody has to sell their house to pay for care in their lifetime, £100,000 of savings and assets will always be protected to pass on to loved ones, and we will put an absolute cap on the level of money that people have to spend on care. The precise level of the cap will be consulted on as part of a government Green Paper, but the package will ensure we have a sustainable solution for the long term. But it is important that we face up to this challenge, because in 10 years' time there will be two million more over-75s in our country. If we don't address the issue of our social care system now then it is going to collapse. We need to do it and do it in a way that is fairer to younger generations and that's what my plans are for.

    To make the system sustainable in the longer term, we also need to consider the way that care is delivered. We want to help carers. As the majority of social care is informally provided, mainly by families, we will give workers a new statutory entitlement to carer's leave, as enjoyed in other countries around the world. This will provide parents and carers with the confidence to return to work when and how they wish.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Social care is in crisis. The Conservatives have cut £4.6 billion from social care, despite rising demand. Around 1.2 million older people have care needs that are going unmet.

    A Labour government will immediately lay the foundations of a National Care Service for England, alongside our NHS.

    We will put an extra £8 billion into social care over the lifetime of the next parliament, with an additional £1 billion for the first year. This will allow us to end the scandal of 15-minute visits and provide care workers with paid travel time and access to training.

    Labour will also increase the carer's allowance by £11 a week to the level of jobseeker's allowance.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Issues of social care are also devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and the Scottish Government has brought forward ambitious proposals that are aimed at supporting both those in care and those providing the care.

    The problems that the Conservatives have had in their own social care proposals south of the border, desperately flip-flopping and U-turning and remaining incredibly vague on the details of their dementia tax after a dip in the opinion polls, shows how important an issue social care is for people – and the Tory proposals are as deplorable as they are confused.

    In Scotland, the SNP has proven its commitment to investing in social care. Our programme of health and social care integration will prove vital in the effort to improve social care services. We are protecting free personal care for the elderly, and we are examining extending this to those under 65 with a diagnosis of dementia. We have introduced the living wage to social care workers in Scotland. We are taking action to make the system fairer, increasing the income threshold at which someone becomes liable for charges.

    And building on the Carers Act, we will look at national and regional approaches to support carers and cared-for individuals. We'll work with young carers to make the service better focus on their needs – and we are committed to equalising the carer's allowance with jobseeker's allowance when these powers are devolved.

    Our care system is in crisis. The Liberal Democrats would invest an extra £2 billion into social care services a year, funded by our 1p rise in income tax rates. We'll also establish a cross-party health and care convention to integrate the NHS and social care and put them on a sustainable financial footing for the future.

    We are strongly opposed to Theresa May's heartless dementia tax, which would see elderly people having to sell their homes when they die to pay for care. Instead, we will cap care costs at £72,000 and take on the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission.

    We also need to support the millions of people around the country who care for others. The Liberal Democrats will raise the amount people can earn before losing carer's allowance from £110 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours' care per week required to qualify. We'll also introduce a carer's passport that will make sure carers' rights are respected in the NHS, including as flexible visiting hours and access to support.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    In our manifesto for the Assembly elections – where health and social care policy is decided for Wales – Plaid Cymru had a radical proposal for the full integration of health and social care. Within two years of forming a Plaid Cymru government, we would introduce free personal care for older people. Within an assembly term, we would also abolish residential care charges for all people with a dementia diagnosis. This plan was independently costed and verified as being affordable within the current, growing Welsh NHS and social care budget. This is still our priority.

    The carer's allowance is currently decided by Westminster, and it's vital that we have Plaid Cymru MPs to stand up for carers. In Scotland the carer's allowance is devolved and they may set a better rate in the future, but Wales will miss out on this and have to follow whatever is decided in England, where full–time carers don't seem to be a priority. For the time being, Plaid Cymru MPs will support an increase in the carer's allowance. The UK is a rich economy and could easily afford an extra £10 per week for carers.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    We would work towards bringing social care into the public sector and integrated with the NHS, starting with a major investment in social care for the elderly and all those who need it. 2015/16 state expenditure on adult social care was £17 billion in England, with an estimated £7.4 billion spent by those funding their own care.

    Greens would invest at least £7.5 billion a year to deliver universal free social care. This could be funded by scrapping pension tax relief for example, which could generate just over £7 billion a year, and reforms to inheritance tax. We would also invest in significantly increasing the carer's allowance in recognition of the hard and vital work those who care do.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

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  • People who have worked hard all their lives deserve dignity, stability and security in retirement. A decade ago, many older people were left in poverty in retirement. Since then, we have increased the state pension by over £1,250, which has reduced pensioner poverty to historically low levels. We now need to make sure we continue to provide dignity to older people balanced by fairness to working people. We will keep our promise to maintain the pensions triple lock until 2020 and then replace it with a double lock – meaning that the state pension will rise by whichever is the highest figure of earnings or inflation.

    We will also make sure that the state pension age reflects increases in life expectancy, while protecting each generation fairly. With people living longer, it is right to put the state pension on a secure footing. Gradual equalisation of the state pension age for men and women was legislated for in 1995 and sped up in 2011, when the Government agreed to spend £1 billion so that no one will see their pension age change by more than 18 months compared to the previous timetable.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    The WASPI women have been treated appallingly and deserve recognition for the injustice they have suffered and compensation for their losses. We will extend pension credit to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable women affected. We are looking into how we can ensure they have security and dignity in older age.

    As the Conservatives abandon their commitments to older people, Labour will maintain the state pension 'triple lock', and keep the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes. We oppose the Conservatives' plan to increase the state pension age. We want to develop a more flexible retirement policy to reflect both the contributions made by people, the wide variations in life expectancy, and the arduous conditions of some work.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    The SNP has led the campaign at Westminster in support of the WASPI women – and we will continue to do so in the next parliament. The inequality is a result of a Tory political choice – nothing more, nothing less – and we will do all we can to ensure that these brave women get the justice that they deserve.

    The SNP has also been firm in its commitment to support the retention of the pension triple lock. The triple lock protects the income of pensioners, many of whom have no other income source to rely on – and it is widely supported by charities and third sector groups that work with pensioners and the aged. The SNP will always stand up for pensioners against any attempt by the Tories to remove the triple lock on pensions.

    SNP MPs would call for the establishment of an Independent Savings and Pensions Commission, which would also look at the issue of the state pension age.

    We have a responsibility to make sure that those who've worked hard all their lives have a decent income in retirement, so that they can live with dignity and independence. We also need to give people certainty about how much they will receive once they retire.

    That's why I am proud that the Liberal Democrats introduced the triple lock in 2010, which resulted in the biggest–ever rise in the basic state pension. Unlike the Conservatives, we will keep that triple lock in place, so that pensions rise every year in line with earnings or prices, or by 2.5% – whichever's higher.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Plaid Cymru supports the WASPI campaign. We would keep the triple–lock guarantee on pensions and have committed to voting against any increases in the state pension age.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Green MPs will back WASPI women at the grassroots and in Parliament – working to support all cross–party parliamentary efforts to secure justice and financial redress for the WASPI women who face serious hardship following the unforgivable lack of notice of changes to their state pension age.

    Green MPs would strongly resist any attempt by the Government to abandon the pension triple lock in the next parliament. We want to lift pensioners out of poverty and ensure that the older generation can live with dignity and enjoy fulfilling lives.

    Our plans for a universal basic income, a non–means–tested payment to everyone, and an idea that's being piloted in places like Finland and Canada, would guarantee everyone financial security. This would become a citizen's pension at state pension age, giving everyone a continued source of guaranteed income at every age. In the meantime, we would redress pension injustice, with a pensions system for everyone and action to enable older people to continue to be active members of society.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

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    Related MSE Section: Pensions

  • Britain has some of the best universities in the world, and it is important that the student finance system remains fair and sustainable. The decision to freeze the repayment threshold for post–2012 loans was taken to put higher education funding on a more sustainable footing. To do this, we had to ask those who benefit from university to meet more of the costs of their studies. It is right that graduates who earn more should contribute more towards the costs of their education.

    We are also investing in technical education to give students the skills our economy needs. Since 2010, we've delivered over three million apprenticeships – giving people the training and experience they need for the workplace. But there is more to do. So if we are elected on 8 June, we will transform Britain's technical education system to rival the best in the world. We will deliver our reforms to technical qualifications, replacing 13,000 existing qualifications with new T–levels across 15 routes, including a high–quality work placement for every student. We will establish prestigious new institutes of technology, backed by leading employers and linked to great universities, in every major city in England. These institutions will have the freedoms that our universities enjoy, from access to funding streams to the ability to gain Royal Charter status.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Labour will scrap university tuition fees entirely and lift the debt burden from future graduates' shoulders. We will legislate to end fees altogether from the 2018 academic year and write off the first year of loans for students planning to start university this September.

    As well as abolishing tuition fees, Labour will restore the maintenance grants the Conservatives abolished in 2016 and, under our transformative plan for a free National Education Service, we will scrap college fees for adult learners.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    The SNP provides the best package of student support in the UK. The SNP is totally committed to the policy of free tuition for higher education students – and we will always reject the damaging approach taken by the Tories at Westminster.

    The Scottish Government provides substantial student loans for both undergraduate and master's level students – having recently brought in new loans of £10,000 to help students with tuition fees and living costs at master's level, allowing more people to access higher level and specialised degree programmes.

    We will never allow tuition fees to be levied on Scottish students – and we'll work to ensure that students in the rest of the UK don't have to keep paying the extortionate rates that the Tories have set for them.

    Our priority is to make sure that Britain's world–class universities are open to all, no matter their background. The Liberal Democrats will reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, so that living costs are not a barrier to going into higher education.

    We'll also reinstate bursaries for student nurses. The Conservative Government's short–sighted decision to cut them has led to a drastic fall in the number of people applying to study nursing, at a time when we desperately need more nurses. The Liberal Democrats will reverse it.

    Finally, we'll conduct a comprehensive review of university finance, with a focus on increasing access, widening participation and improving quality. We'll make sure there is no more retrospective raising of rates, or selling–off of loans to private companies.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Plaid Cymru wants to abolish student debt in terms of fees. Our policy is that all Welsh–domiciled students who return to live and work in Wales, or stay in Wales after graduation, get £6,000 per year up to a maximum of £18,000 per year. Students would have a five–year window after graduation during which they could return to Wales. The idea behind this policy is to incentivise graduates to move back to Wales, so that our economy and public purse can benefit from their presence. Graduates are a major asset to any economy and at the moment Wales loses more of its skilled graduates than any other UK nation. This would obviously have an impact on the repayment threshold.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Education is a right not a commodity to be bought and sold, and we need a level playing field so everyone has the chance to go to university or college. We would get rid of tuition fees and reinstate maintenance grants with immediate effect.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Related MSE Section: Students

Leaders' Debate: Replies by party

If you'd rather read replies a different way, in this section we've copied the answers from the questions above and sectioned them so you can read each party's views in one go.

  • Q. AFFORDABLE HOUSING: "How will you address the lack of affordable homes and/or help first–time buyers? What will you do to protect leaseholders from property developers, which sell freeholds to third parties who then ramp up ground rents?"

    We have not built enough homes in this country for generations, which has left too many families facing unaffordable rents or struggling to save up for their first deposit. If we do not put this right, we will be unable to extend the promise of a decent home, let alone home ownership, to the millions who deserve it. So if we are elected on 8 June, my government will fix the dysfunctional housing market so that homes are more affordable and ordinary working people have the security they need to plan for the future.

    We will deliver on our commitment to build a million homes by 2020, and we will build another half a million by the end of the parliament in 2022. This will slow the rise in housing costs so more ordinary working families can afford to buy a home. To achieve that, we will deliver on our existing reforms to free up more land for homes in the right places, speed up building rates and give councils powers to step in when developers are not using planning permissions. We will support high–quality, high density housing to ensure that those homes are the kind of houses that people want to live in, such as terraced streets, mansion blocks and mews houses.

    But we will go much further, by using the power of housing associations and councils to build many more high–quality affordable homes. To build a new generation of social housing, ambitious councils and housing associations will be given funding, support and new powers to deliver high–quality fixed–term council homes linked to a new Right to Buy for social tenants. The proceeds will be recycled into building more homes, refreshing the stock of social housing.

    And we will help many more people get on the housing ladder and help them when they are there. Since 2010, over 362,000 households have been able to buy a property through government–backed schemes like Help to Buy and the reinvigorated Right to Buy, and we will continue to help people through these schemes. We will tackle unfair practices in leaseholds, such as escalating ground rents. We know that buying a leasehold house can be more expensive than a freehold house in the long run, particularly when ground rents can increase significantly over the lease period. So we will consult on a range of measures to tackle unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold.

    These ambitious policies will mean more and better homes in all parts of the country, as part of my plan to build a stronger Britain.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. BENEFITS: "What plans do you have for the benefits system? What protections will you put in place to prevent financial hardship as people are moved onto universal credit? Should people earn more working than on benefits – if so, how would you ensure this? Will you improve the highly criticised back–to–work assessments for disability benefits, specifically personal independence payments and employment and support allowance?"

    Employment is at a record high, with more than 2.8 million in work since 2010 when we began the task of fixing the economic mess Labour left behind. That means 2.8 million more people with a monthly wage packet, and unemployment at its lowest level for 12 years. But we want to go further, and will continue to strive for full employment. If elected on 8 June, we will continue to run the welfare system in accordance with our belief that work is the best route out of poverty, that work should always pay, and that the system should be fair both to the people in need of support and those who pay for it.

    We have no plans for further radical welfare reform in this parliament and will continue the roll–out of universal credit, to ensure that it always pays to be in work. To help people prepare for the world of work, universal credit is paid monthly rather than weekly in the same way as most pay packets. And importantly, under universal credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system – providing stability and security for families.

    I am determined to build a 'Great Meritocracy', where everyone has the chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will allow. So we will work to help those groups who have in the past found it difficult to find work, by incentivising employers to take them on. That means businesses who employ former wards of the care system, someone with a disability, those with chronic mental health problems, those who have committed a crime but who have repaid their debt to society, and those who have been unemployed for over a year, will be offered a holiday on their employers' national insurance contributions for a full year. We will also provide targeted support for young people between the ages of 18 and 24 so that everyone, no matter what their start in life, is given the very best chance of getting into work.

    And we will specifically support those with disabilities, to get one million more people with disabilities into employment over the next 10 years. We will harness the opportunities of flexible working and the digital economy to generate jobs for those whose disabilities make traditional work difficult. We will give employers the advice and support they need to hire and retain disabled people and those with health conditions. We will continue to ensure a sustainable welfare system, with help targeted at those who need it most. We will legislate to give unemployed disabled claimants or those with a health condition personalised and tailored employment support. The disability living allowance, and the personal independence payment which is replacing it – and which provides better support for people with mental health conditions – are excluded from the benefit cap and will continue to rise with the Consumer Prices Index.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. BREXIT CONSUMER RIGHTS: "This has been very much ignored in Brexit discussions.  How will you guarantee, safeguard or improve our consumer rights as we exit the EU? Will your Government form a cross–department consumer–focused working group to navigate Brexit?"

    Getting the right Brexit deal is the key to our future economic prosperity and security, and only I have the plan and ability to get that deal – in stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn who has no plan for the negotiations which begin just 11 days after the general election and would be in a coalition of chaos with the Lib Dems and SNP pulling the strings.

    Consumers are at the heart of my manifesto because I am determined to make sure that markets are fair. As a Conservative, I believe in markets as the best means to bring about prosperity and innovation. But Conservatives also believe that it is the responsibility of government to act firmly and fast when a market works against the interests of consumers. Since 2010, we have capped the cost of credit for expensive payday lenders and will shortly ban letting agent fees. If we are elected on 8 June, we will go further to reform markets in the interests of consumers and reduce the cost of living.

    As we leave the European Union, our Great Repeal Bill will make sure that current EU law on consumer protection will be preserved in domestic law, giving consumers clarity in their domestic rights and obligations and stability and certainty to businesses.

    But even as we protect existing consumer rights, we must act to make consumer markets work fairly and to tackle rising living costs for ordinary working people. So we will bring in legislation to strengthen the hand of regulators to order fines against companies breaking consumer law and to put a duty on regulators to weigh up the needs of vulnerable customers. We will improve the information available to consumers, by making terms and conditions clearer, ending the abusive use of subscription services and ensure offers make clear when free trials come to an end.

    And we will take action in markets where we know consumers are currently being let down. We will modernise the home–buying process to make it more efficient and less costly. We will make billing for telecoms fairer and easier to understand, including making clear when a mobile customer has paid off the cost of a handset. And we will review rail ticketing, removing complexity and perverse pricing, and introduce a passenger ombudsman to act in the interests of rail users suffering a poor deal.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. ENERGY PRICES: "66% of people are stuck on the most expensive tariffs – what will you do to get people on cheaper deals? Do you think all prices should be regulated? When did you last switch your energy tariff and how?"

    It is clear to me that the energy market is not working for ordinary working families. Too many people simply aren't getting a fair deal, and gas and electricity bills only ever seem to go in one direction. If I am re–elected on 8 June, I will take action to end this injustice by introducing a cap on unfair energy price rises.

    Energy suppliers have long operated a two–tier market, where those constantly checking for the best deal can do well but those who don't actively check or cannot do so are punished with higher prices. Those hit worst are households with lower incomes, people with lower qualifications, people who rent their home and the elderly. We will act on their behalf, by introducing a safeguard tariff cap to protect energy customers from abusive price increases. This will extend the protection we have already given some vulnerable customers to more customers on the poorest value tariffs.

    At the same time, we will maintain the competitive element of the retail energy market by supporting initiatives to make the switching process easier and more reliable, and we will ensure that smart meters will be offered to every household and business by the end of 2020, giving people control over their energy bills that they have not had before.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. FINANCIAL EDUCATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: "It's been on the national curriculum in senior schools in England since 2015 (earlier elsewhere). Yet limited resources have been committed, and teachers haven't been trained. What will you do to make it work? How will you help to ensure schools that don't follow the curriculum teach this subject?"

    It was the Conservatives in government that introduced financial literacy education in 2014, as part of the national curriculum at key stages 3 and 4. The Money Charity has found that nine out of 10 schools teach financial education, but we recognise more needs to be done. We recently legislated to consult on a new personal, social, health and economic [PSHE] education curriculum, with a power to make teaching PSHE mandatory pending the results of that consultation.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. INCOME TAX: "What will happen to tax rates and thresholds under your Government? Would you change the way and the rates the self–employed are taxed?"

    The Conservatives will always be the party that keeps tax as low as possible and spends the proceeds responsibly. It is our firm intention to reduce taxes on Britain's businesses and working families, so people keep more of what they earn for their hard work.

    Since 2010, we have given 31 million people across the country a tax cut worth more than £1,000 by increasing the personal allowance from £6,475 to £11,500. We will increase that allowance further, to £12,500 by 2020 – as well as increasing the threshold for the higher rate of income tax to £50,000 by the same date. In contrast, the independent IFS [Institute for Fiscal Studies] say Jeremy Corbyn would raise taxes to the highest levels ever seen in peacetime – with families and businesses across the income scale paying the price.

    A good tax system is not just about the headline rates of tax, however, but about its simplicity. As we have set out in our manifesto, our tax system remains too complicated, making it hard for people – especially self–employed people and small businesses – to assess their taxes. So we will simplify the tax system.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. MENTAL HEALTH AND DEBT: "With over 50% of those in debt crisis having mental health issues, what will you do to help improve people's chances? What plans do you have to break this devastating link?"

    On my first day in Downing Street I said mental illness was one of the burning injustices in our country, which for too long has been seen as a secondary issue compared to physical health problems. I am committed to putting that right.

    I recognise that for some people, the cost of living can become too great – sometimes with harrowing consequences. Problem debt can be hard to escape and can compound family breakdown, worklessness, stress and mental health issues.

    To help those trapped in problem debt, we will adopt a 'Breathing Space' scheme. This would give people with serious debt problems the chance to apply for legal protection from further interest, charges and enforcement action for up to six weeks – preventing more debt from piling up and protecting them from worries about being chased. They may also, if appropriate, be offered a repayment plan to help them pay back their debts in a manageable way, giving them time to get advice and assistance. We will also end the horrific practice of GPs charging for mental health and debt forms.

    Alongside this, we will take concerted action to tackle the injustice when those struggling with mental health issues in this country find there is no help at hand. We will replace the outdated Mental Health Act with a new bill which has parity of esteem and capacity at its heart. And we will transform how mental illness is treated in society, by reforming workplace discrimination and health and safety laws to take better account of mental ill–health, and investing in mental–health first–aid training for staff in schools.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. MORTGAGE PRISONERS: "What will you do to help those stuck on high–rate mortgages, rejected from cheaper deals as they 'can't afford' them, due to affordability rules that aren't fit for purpose? Will you allow rent repayments to be used as a means of proving affordability when applying for a first mortgage?"

    As our manifesto makes clear, we will act to make markets work better for consumers – and this is precisely the kind of problem we want to address. Our plans include strengthening the powers of regulators, considering a duty on regulators to weigh up the needs of vulnerable consumers, and making terms and conditions clearer. We will also act to reform and modernise the home–buying process so it is more efficient and less costly for those purchasing a home.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. RENTING: "What will you do to help those who are renting – and to make renting more attainable? How will you address the terrible fees, costs and services some face when renting privately?"

    A Conservative government led by me will not duck the big challenges we face as a nation and there are few issues that are greater than the need for good–quality, affordable housing. If I am elected on 8 June, I will act to fix the dysfunctional housing market, not just to build more homes for ownership but also to make renting a home in Britain more affordable and secure. A Conservative government will deliver on our commitment to build one million homes by 2020 and half a million more by 2022, including by working with ambitious councils to build a new generation of fixed–term council houses for affordable rent.

    And I will act to improve protections for those who rent, to prevent them being ripped off by landlords, discriminated against, or charged extortionate fees. We will encourage more landlords to offer longer, more secure tenancies as standard and strengthen the enforcement of equalities laws to prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants on the basis of colour. And as we have already announced, we will legislate to ban letting agents' fees.

    It is part of my determination to build a better Britain our children and grandchildren are proud to call home and where everyone has the chance to get on in life.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. SAVINGS: "Interest rates are at historic lows. How will you ensure savers start seeing a decent return on their nest egg?" 

    We are committed to supporting savers at all stages of their lives, that's why we have almost doubled ISA limits since 2010 and have introduced the new Lifetime ISA. The Lifetime ISA allows people to save up to £4,000 each year and receive a generous bonus of up to £1,000 a year on these contributions, which can then be withdrawn tax–free to put towards a first home or when the policyholder turns 60. We will continue to promote long–term savings and pensions products, including the Lifetime ISA, to encourage and incentivise more people to make provision for long–term needs, including a house purchase and retirement.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. SOCIAL CARE: "How do you plan to make social care available and affordable to everyone? Will you change the allowance for full–time carers from its current £62.70 a week – how much to?"

    One of the great challenges we face as a country is that our society is ageing. It's great that people are living longer but that has an impact in terms of the services we have to provide and ensuring people can have dignity in their old age.

    Where others have failed to lead, we will act. We have already taken immediate action, putting £2 billion into the social care system and allowing councils to raise more money for care themselves from council tax. We are now proposing medium and long–term solutions to put elderly care in our country on a strong and stable footing.

    At the moment if you require care and you have savings of more than £23,000, you have to pay for that care and if the care you require is residential care then the value of your house is taken into account. So what happens is that people are paying for care, many people are having to sell their house to pay for those care bills and many find that they are not able to leave money to their families. I want to take those risks away, and have put forward a set of proposals to achieve that. My plan will make sure that nobody has to sell their house to pay for care in their lifetime, £100,000 of savings and assets will always be protected to pass on to loved ones, and we will put an absolute cap on the level of money that people have to spend on care. The precise level of the cap will be consulted on as part of a government Green Paper, but the package will ensure we have a sustainable solution for the long term. But it is important that we face up to this challenge, because in 10 years' time there will be two million more over–75s in our country. If we don't address the issue of our social care system now then it is going to collapse. We need to do it and do it in a way that is fairer to younger generations and that's what my plans are for.

    To make the system sustainable in the longer term, we also need to consider the way that care is delivered. We want to help carers. As the majority of social care is informally provided, mainly by families, we will give workers a new statutory entitlement to carer's leave, as enjoyed in other countries around the world. This will provide parents and carers with the confidence to return to work when and how they wish.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. THE STATE PENSION: "What will you do to help the WASPI women born in the 1950s suffering hardship as their state pension ages were changed without enough notice? Will you retain or scrap the pension 'triple–lock' guarantee? Do you have any plans to change the state pension age?"

    People who have worked hard all their lives deserve dignity, stability and security in retirement. A decade ago, many older people were left in poverty in retirement. Since then, we have increased the state pension by over £1,250, which has reduced pensioner poverty to historically low levels. We now need to make sure we continue to provide dignity to older people balanced by fairness to working people. We will keep our promise to maintain the pensions triple lock until 2020 and then replace it with a double lock – meaning that the state pension will rise by whichever is the highest figure of earnings or inflation.

    We will also make sure that the state pension age reflects increases in life expectancy, while protecting each generation fairly. With people living longer, it is right to put the state pension on a secure footing. Gradual equalisation of the state pension age for men and women was legislated for in 1995 and sped up in 2011, when the Government agreed to spend £1 billion so that no one will see their pension age change by more than 18 months compared to the previous timetable.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Q. STUDENT LOANS: "What are your plans for future student finance? How will you help those at university who don't get enough to live on? Will you be upfront with parents about what you expect them to contribute? Will you reverse the retrospective hike on student costs for those who started from 2012 to 2016 and unfreeze the £21,000 repayment threshold?"

    Britain has some of the best universities in the world, and it is important that the student finance system remains fair and sustainable. The decision to freeze the repayment threshold for post–2012 loans was taken to put higher education funding on a more sustainable footing. To do this, we had to ask those who benefit from university to meet more of the costs of their studies. It is right that graduates who earn more should contribute more towards the costs of their education.

    We are also investing in technical education to give students the skills our economy needs. Since 2010, we've delivered over three million apprenticeships – giving people the training and experience they need for the workplace. But there is more to do. So if we are elected on 8 June, we will transform Britain's technical education system to rival the best in the world. We will deliver our reforms to technical qualifications, replacing 13,000 existing qualifications with new T–levels across 15 routes, including a high–quality work placement for every student. We will establish prestigious new institutes of technology, backed by leading employers and linked to great universities, in every major city in England. These institutions will have the freedoms that our universities enjoy, from access to funding streams to the ability to gain Royal Charter status.

    Theresa May 
    Conservatives

    Read the full Conservative manifesto.

  • Q. AFFORDABLE HOUSING: "How will you address the lack of affordable homes and/or help first–time buyers? What will you do to protect leaseholders from property developers, which sell freeholds to third parties who then ramp up ground rents?"

    Labour will introduce a 'New Deal' to tackle the housing crisis with genuinely affordable homes, support for first–time buyers and an inflation cap on rent rises. We will build a million new homes during the course of the next parliament, with at least 100,000 genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy per year by the end of the parliament and the biggest council house–building programme in more than 30 years.

    First–time buyers will be guaranteed 'first dibs' on new homes in their area, with thousands of new discount FirstBuy Homes linked to local average incomes. We will also stop leaseholders being ripped off and help homeowners to pay their mortgage if they lose their job.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. BENEFITS: "What plans do you have for the benefits system? What protections will you put in place to prevent financial hardship as people are moved onto universal credit? Should people earn more working than on benefits – if so, how would you ensure this? Will you improve the highly criticised back–to–work assessments for disability benefits, specifically personal independence payments and employment and support allowance?"

    Labour will review and redesign the benefits system, making it more effective at reducing poverty and supporting people to find decent work. We will scrap the bedroom tax, reinstate housing benefit for under–21s, and reverse cuts to bereavement support payment.

    We'll also end the Conservatives' punitive sanctions regime and restore the principle that social security provides support to, rather than demonises, people. And review the disastrous universal credit, committing to an extra £2 billion.

    We will implement the court decision on PIP [personal independence payments] and replace the work capability and PIP tests with a personalised, holistic assessment that provides people with a tailored plan.

    We will increase employment and support allowance by £30 a week for those in the work–related activity group and repeal cuts in the universal credit limited capacity for work element. We will commission a report into expanding the Access to Work programme, to help tackle the barriers to work faced by many people with disabilities.

    Our pledge to increase the national minimum wage to £10 an hour will reduce government spending on benefits and ensure that millions of low–paid workers receive a pay rise.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. BREXIT CONSUMER RIGHTS: "This has been very much ignored in Brexit discussions.  How will you guarantee, safeguard or improve our consumer rights as we exit the EU? Will your Government form a cross–department consumer–focused working group to navigate Brexit?"

    We are determined to enshrine all EU–derived consumer rights laws into UK legislation, and will make this a central part of our Brexit negotiation strategy.

    Our EU Rights and Protections Bill will ensure there is no detrimental change to workers' rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. ENERGY PRICES: "66% of people are stuck on the most expensive tariffs – what will you do to get people on cheaper deals? Do you think all prices should be regulated? When did you last switch your energy tariff and how?"

    Electricity bills soared by 20% between 2007 and 2013. In 2013 alone, £120 was paid by every household in the UK into dividends to energy company shareholders.

    Labour will cap energy bills to stop them from rising any further and support the creation of a publicly owned, locally accountable energy company or co–operative in every region across the UK. This will ensure consumers have choice, and bring down bills, putting money back into people's pockets, rather than subsidising shareholders' profits.

    To cut through the complexity and lack of transparency of the current system, we would require bills to display the supplier charges and how much the consumer would have paid, were they to use a publicly owned company, to ensure consumers are informed about the options available to them.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. FINANCIAL EDUCATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: "It's been on the national curriculum in senior schools in England since 2015 (earlier elsewhere). Yet limited resources have been committed, and teachers haven't been trained. What will you do to make it work? How will you help to ensure schools that don't follow the curriculum teach this subject?"

    It is vitally important that young people are equipped to manage their finances and make informed financial decisions in adult life. Labour will reverse the Conservatives' cuts so that schools have the resources they need to deliver a broad curriculum. Schools are currently scheduled to lose £3 billion a year in funding by 2020, whereas a Labour government will add £6.3 billion to annual school budgets by the end of the next parliament.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. INCOME TAX: "What will happen to tax rates and thresholds under your Government? Would you change the way and the rates the self–employed are taxed?"

    Under a Labour government, only the highest earners, the top 5% of taxpayers, will be asked to contribute a bit more to help fund our vital public services, which have been cut to the bone by the Conservatives.

    We have guaranteed that 95% of taxpayers will be protected from any increase in income tax, personal national insurance contributions and VAT. The Conservatives have refused to make the same guarantee.

    Labour forced the Conservatives to U–turn on their proposed increase in national insurance for the self–employed this year, which they had pledged not to increase in their 2015 manifesto. They have repeatedly refused to rule out re–introducing it after the election. Labour will guarantee not to increase the rate of class 4 national insurance contributions for the self–employed.

    Labour is the party of low taxes for middle and low earners, while the Conservatives are the party of tax handouts for the super–rich and big corporations. We have published our fully costed plans, unlike the Conservatives who have refused to do so.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. MENTAL HEALTH AND DEBT: "With over 50% of those in debt crisis having mental health issues, what will you do to help improve people's chances? What plans do you have to break this devastating link?"

    Stagnating incomes have forced many to take on more debt and in–work poverty is at record levels. Labour will ensure that work pays by raising the minimum wage to the level of the living wage for all workers aged 18 or over.

    We will introduce a version of Scotland's debt arrangement scheme to give breathing space to households struggling with high debts. This has proved successful in averting evictions and county court judgments, which can exacerbate the stress and mental health issues associated with debt.

    We will also reverse the damage done to mental health services under the Conservatives. By ring–fencing mental health budgets and directing funding to the frontline, we will ensure everyone who experiences a mental health problem, 1 in 4 people each year, can access the support they need.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. MORTGAGE PRISONERS: "What will you do to help those stuck on high–rate mortgages, rejected from cheaper deals as they 'can't afford' them, due to affordability rules that aren't fit for purpose? Will you allow rent repayments to be used as a means of proving affordability when applying for a first mortgage?"

    The number of affordable homes to buy has plummeted by two–thirds under the Conservatives, so we will build thousands more low–cost homes reserved for first–time buyers only.

    A Labour government will give leaseholders security from rip–off ground rents and end the routine use of leasehold houses in new developments. We will be publishing a mini–manifesto on housing that will set out in depth our policies in this crucial area.

    We will also review the rules on mortgage affordability assessments to consider removing any unnecessary rules which have led to some borrowers being stuck on expensive deals, preventing them from switching to a cheaper option.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. RENTING: "What will you do to help those who are renting – and to make renting more attainable? How will you address the terrible fees, costs and services some face when renting privately?"

    We will introduce new consumer rights for tenants so they can call time on rogue landlords, with new legal minimum standards to ensure properties are fit for human habitation, a ban on letting agency fees and a landlord licensing scheme.

    We will also introduce controls on rent rises and make secure three–year tenancies the norm. There are particular pressures in London, so we will look at giving the Labour mayor Sadiq Khan powers to offer renters in the capital extra security.

    We will also reverse the cruel decision to abolish housing benefit for 18 to 21–year–olds.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. SAVINGS: "Interest rates are at historic lows. How will you ensure savers start seeing a decent return on their nest egg?" 

    Our policies to tackle rising housing, energy, water and transport costs, and to raise wages, will put more money in people's pockets, giving more people the opportunity to save.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. SOCIAL CARE: "How do you plan to make social care available and affordable to everyone? Will you change the allowance for full–time carers from its current £62.70 a week – how much to?"

    Social care is in crisis. The Conservatives have cut £4.6 billion from social care, despite rising demand. Around 1.2 million older people have care needs that are going unmet.

    A Labour government will immediately lay the foundations of a National Care Service for England, alongside our NHS.

    We will put an extra £8 billion into social care over the lifetime of the next parliament, with an additional £1 billion for the first year. This will allow us to end the scandal of 15–minute visits and provide care workers with paid travel time and access to training.

    Labour will also increase the carer's allowance by £11 a week to the level of jobseeker's allowance.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. THE STATE PENSION: "What will you do to help the WASPI women born in the 1950s suffering hardship as their state pension ages were changed without enough notice? Will you retain or scrap the pension 'triple–lock' guarantee? Do you have any plans to change the state pension age?"

    The WASPI women have been treated appallingly and deserve recognition for the injustice they have suffered and compensation for their losses. We will extend pension credit to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable women affected. We are looking into how we can ensure they have security and dignity in older age.

    As the Conservatives abandon their commitments to older people, Labour will maintain the state pension 'triple lock', and keep the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes. We oppose the Conservatives' plan to increase the state pension age. We want to develop a more flexible retirement policy to reflect both the contributions made by people, the wide variations in life expectancy, and the arduous conditions of some work.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

    Q. STUDENT LOANS: "What are your plans for future student finance? How will you help those at university who don't get enough to live on? Will you be upfront with parents about what you expect them to contribute? Will you reverse the retrospective hike on student costs for those who started from 2012 to 2016 and unfreeze the £21,000 repayment threshold?"

    Labour will scrap university tuition fees entirely and lift the debt burden from future graduates' shoulders. We will legislate to end fees altogether from the 2018 academic year and write off the first year of loans for students planning to start university this September.

    As well as abolishing tuition fees, Labour will restore the maintenance grants the Conservatives abolished in 2016 and, under our transformative plan for a free National Education Service, we will scrap college fees for adult learners.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Labour

  • Q. AFFORDABLE HOUSING:
    "How will you address the lack of affordable homes and/or help first–time buyers? What will you do to protect leaseholders from property developers, which sell freeholds to third parties who then ramp up ground rents?"

    Housing is a devolved issue to the Scottish Parliament. The SNP in government is committed to ensuring everyone has access to a warm affordable home. We have delivered over 65,000 affordable homes in our decade in office – 70% of which are for social rent. We have pledged to deliver at least 50,000 in the current Scottish Parliament with 35,000 for social rent. That is an investment of over £3 billion. This is happening in spite of Tory cuts to the Scottish Government's capital budget.

    We've also helped stimulate growing confidence in the private housing market and invested over £0.5 billion to support over 22,000 people into home ownership since 2007. This has benefitted young people particularly with 75% of all sales being under–35s.

    Q. BENEFITS:
    "What plans do you have for the benefits system? What protections will you put in place to prevent financial hardship as people are moved onto universal credit? Should people earn more working than on benefits – if so, how would you ensure this? Will you improve the highly criticised back–to–work assessments for disability benefits, specifically personal independence payments and employment and support allowance?"

    We are committed to bringing an end to the Tories' damaging austerity agenda, which has seen increasing hardship for those that depend on the social security safety net. We want an end to the freeze on working age benefits, which have been so damaging to our communities.

    Earlier this year, the SNP Scottish Government called for an immediate halt to the roll–out of the full service of universal credit due to the damage it's causing people. The inbuilt six–week wait that new claimants face before receiving their first payment is not acceptable, and the UK Government are doing nothing whilst people fall into hardship and debt. Halting the roll–out of universal credit would be a good place to start. Our newly devolved employability support programmes for disabled people are voluntary and not part of the benefit sanctions regime. We see this as an opportunity to support people into employment.

    Back–to–work assessments are not for disability benefits but for employment and support allowance. We have been vocal in our criticism of these assessments which are not fit for purpose and we would scrap this along with the callous and cruel benefits sanctions regime that targets the most vulnerable.

    Disability benefits including DA and PIP [personal independence payment] are not related to employment and are due to be devolved to Scotland and the SNP Scottish Government is taking an entirely different approach. We are building a rights–based approach to our new social security system with dignity and respect at its heart. We have consulted and are engaging with people every step of the way in order to ensure that our social security system is based around their needs.

    We are committed to making work pay, but also to supporting those in most need of social security payments and giving everyone a decent standard of living, not facing the deep hardship that the Tories have left people in. We are committed to making the national living wage match the real living wage, increasing incomes and ensuring that those in work have enough to live off. In Scotland our work to promote the living wage means we lead the UK nations and 80% of employees are paid at least the living wage.

    Q. BREXIT CONSUMER RIGHTS:
    "This has been very much ignored in Brexit discussions.  How will you guarantee, safeguard or improve our consumer rights as we exit the EU? Will your Government form a cross–department consumer–focused working group to navigate Brexit?"

    Tory plans for a devastating, extreme Brexit are set to have a deeply damaging impact on all aspects of our society – whether that is on the environment, for our universities, or on consumer rights.

    We have seen the Tories gearing up to put a whole host of protections on their Brexit bonfire, including workers' and consumers' rights. The Tories have utterly failed to make suitable guarantees that our consumers will have the same protections and rights after Brexit as they do at present.

    The Scottish Government put forward substantial proposals that would have guaranteed Scotland's place in the EU single market, and we have consistently called for the Tories to drop their opposition to remaining members of the EU single market. Remaining in the single market is the easiest way for us to maintain the vital and consumer protections that we currently enjoy as part of the EU. We also argue for all consumer protection powers to be devolved to Scotland – which would give us the chance to put the interests of consumers first – not those of big business.

    Q. ENERGY PRICES:
    "66% of people are stuck on the most expensive tariffs – what will you do to get people on cheaper deals? Do you think all prices should be regulated? When did you last switch your energy tariff and how?"

    Successive Westminster governments have cost consumers billions of pounds by failing to make the energy market work for families – and the time for changing this is long overdue. We need to see bills reduced and transparency in our energy system.

    By electing SNP MPs to Westminster, people can be sure that we will press the UK Government to enact an energy price cap on standard variable tariffs, and we'll call for an introduction of a new duty to be placed on energy companies to set out a clear timetable to reduce the number of people on prepayment meters.

    We will also require energy companies to prioritise the roll–out of smart meters to households at risk of fuel poverty, and we'll introduce financial health checks to help people switch to the lowest energy tariffs and provide advice on energy use.

    And we'll take new action, alongside [regulator] Ofgem, to identify those at risk of fuel poverty – and bring about new legislation to ensure those at risk are on the lowest possible energy tariff, starting with those eligible for the cold weather payment.

    Q. FINANCIAL EDUCATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE:
    "It's been on the national curriculum in senior schools in England since 2015 (earlier elsewhere). Yet limited resources have been committed, and teachers haven't been trained. What will you do to make it work? How will you help to ensure schools that don't follow the curriculum teach this subject?"

    Financial education in Scotland is delivered through Curriculum for Excellence. We recognise the importance of building financial capability in all our young people and the Curriculum for Excellence provides opportunities for schools to adopt a coordinated approach to financial education that works across the school's curriculum.

    There are four aspects of financial capability in the Scottish provision:

    • Financial understanding

    • Financial competence

    • Financial responsibility

    • Financial enterprise

    The national education body, Education Scotland, works with a range of partners to run a Scottish Financial Education Week. This year, it ran from 20–24 March and had a series of events to promote money management for children, young people and young adults and to raise awareness of the importance of financial education both in schools and in the wider community.

    Q. INCOME TAX:
    "What will happen to tax rates and thresholds under your Government? Would you change the way and the rates the self–employed are taxed?"

    Income tax powers have recently been devolved to Scotland – and we have taken our own approach to the issue in Scotland. Rather than pursuing tax cuts for the wealthiest, as the Tories have proposed, or tax rises for the poorest, as Labour have proposed, the Scottish Government has chosen to maintain the top rate of tax at 45p, with a commitment to explore how to most effectively prevent people from shifting their income to other parts of the UK with lower top rates of tax.

    Without full powers to tackle tax evasion, which continue to be reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government is operating as best it can with one arm tied behind its back. At this election, we support an increase in the additional rate from 45p to 50p across the UK, allowing those with the most money to contribute more to protect public services – and allowing the Scottish Government to take the same action in Scotland.

    We are also committed to opposing any proposed increase in the basic rate of tax, VAT or national insurance.

    Q. MENTAL HEALTH AND DEBT:
    "With over 50% of those in debt crisis having mental health issues, what will you do to help improve people's chances? What plans do you have to break this devastating link?"

    The Scottish Government has been taking decisive action to help those with mental health difficulties. In our manifesto ahead of the 2016 elections, we committed to increasing the share of the NHS budget being spent on mental health every year, and bringing forward a new mental health strategy which will help to transform the support service that sufferers receive.

    Of course, there is a link between monetary concerns and debt and mental health issues – and this is something that needs to be tackled. While the support that we offer is invaluable, there is a need to work to ensure that people don't get into monetary problems which can then have a knock–on impact on their mental health. This is why our pledges on boosting low pay, on ending the benefits freeze, and our opposition to the austerity agenda that stifles incomes is so important.

    Also in Scotland, we have different ways of dealing with personal debt which is much more suitable for people needing support. Our Debt Arrangement Scheme ensures that people with the support and advice of an approved money adviser are provided with the breathing space that allows them to repay their debts through a debt payment programme over an extended period of time. This scheme ensures protection from threat of any legal action whilst this debt is being repaid.

    Q. MORTGAGE PRISONERS:
    "What will you do to help those stuck on high–rate mortgages, rejected from cheaper deals as they 'can't afford' them, due to affordability rules that aren't fit for purpose? Will you allow rent repayments to be used as a means of proving affordability when applying for a first mortgage?"

    This is something we would be willing to look at but we recognise that it is up to mortgage providers to ensure they are being competitive and providing the right products for people. Our successful Help to Buy and Shared Equity programmes have helped people onto the housing ladder.

    Q. RENTING:
    "What will you do to help those who are renting – and to make renting more attainable? How will you address the terrible fees, costs and services some face when renting privately?"

    We are taking action to improve the private rented sector in Scotland – by improving the standards of properties in this area and promoting energy–efficiency.

    In 2016, the Scottish Government took important action to improve the private rented sector that modernised the sector by creating simpler tenancies, and offer stability and security to 700,000 tenants across Scotland. Our new laws provide improved security for tenants, meaning they cannot be asked to leave their home simply because the tenancy agreement has reached its end date, and bringing about a more streamlined renting system. In addition rents can only be increased once a year and with three months' notice. Councils were also given powers to ask for rent caps in areas where there are extreme rent pressures.

    For many years now we have had a Deposit Protection Scheme which ensures people's deposits are secure and can be returned. In addition in government we outlawed letting agent fees in Scotland in 2012 – something that only now other political parties are catching up with.

    Q. SAVINGS:
    "Interest rates are at historic lows. How will you ensure savers start seeing a decent return on their nest egg?"

    The best way to ensure savers see a decent return on their nest eggs is by taking action to boost our economy. A buoyant, growing and sustainable economy provides greater opportunity for savings to remain secure and grow along with the economy. It provides a wider range of opportunities for savers and investors to see a fair return on their savings and investments. We have seen that the Tories – over the last seven years – are not able to do this whilst wedded to their failed and disastrous austerity agenda.

    Prospects for savers are only going to get worse if the Tories drag us over the cliff edge of a hard Brexit, which is set to damage the economy and cost up to 80,000 jobs across Scotland, and has already seen savers lose out.

    To protect savers and to get our economy growing again, the Scottish Government has been doing all we can with our limited economic powers, such as protecting jobs and businesses through our small business bonus scheme which has seen 100,000 business premises taken out of business rates. We are investing in infrastructure through our £6 billion capital building programme, which is helping to keep the economy going at these difficult times.

    The UK Government needs to end its austerity obsession, which has merely plunged millions into hardship whilst missing every single target the Tories have aimed for on reducing the deficit. Their failed economic policy is simply not working – and the knock-on effect that it is having on savers and investors is a real problem.

    Only by promoting public investment rather than forcing through damaging cuts will our economy grow, and savers see the benefit of this.

    Q. SOCIAL CARE:
    "How do you plan to make social care available and affordable to everyone? Will you change the allowance for full-time carers from its current £62.70 a week – how much to?"

    Issues of social care are also devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and the Scottish Government has brought forward ambitious proposals that are aimed at supporting both those in care and those providing the care.

    The problems that the Conservatives have had in their own social care proposals south of the border, desperately flip-flopping and U-turning and remaining incredibly vague on the details of their dementia tax after a dip in the opinion polls, shows how important an issue social care is for people – and the Tory proposals are as deplorable as they are confused.

    In Scotland, the SNP has proven its commitment to investing in social care. Our programme of health and social care integration will prove vital in the effort to improve social care services. We are protecting free personal care for the elderly, and we are examining extending this to those under 65 with a diagnosis of dementia. We have introduced the living wage to social care workers in Scotland. We are taking action to make the system fairer, increasing the income threshold at which someone becomes liable for charges.

    And building on the Carers Act, we will look at national and regional approaches to support carers and cared-for individuals. We'll work with young carers to make the service better focus on their needs – and we are committed to equalising the carer's allowance with jobseeker's allowance when these powers are devolved.

    Q. THE STATE PENSION:
    "What will you do to help the WASPI women born in the 1950s suffering hardship as their state pension ages were changed without enough notice? Will you retain or scrap the pension 'triple-lock' guarantee? Do you have any plans to change the state pension age?"

    The SNP has led the campaign at Westminster in support of the WASPI women – and we will continue to do so in the next parliament. The inequality is a result of a Tory political choice – nothing more, nothing less – and we will do all we can to ensure that these brave women get the justice that they deserve.

    The SNP has also been firm in its commitment to support the retention of the pension triple lock. The triple lock protects the income of pensioners, many of whom have no other income source to rely on – and it is widely supported by charities and third sector groups that work with pensioners and the aged. The SNP will always stand up for pensioners against any attempt by the Tories to remove the triple lock on pensions.

    SNP MPs would call for the establishment of an Independent Savings and Pensions Commission, which would also look at the issue of the state pension age.

    Q. STUDENT LOANS:
    "What are your plans for future student finance? How will you help those at university who don't get enough to live on? Will you be upfront with parents about what you expect them to contribute? Will you reverse the retrospective hike on student costs for those who started from 2012 to 2016 and unfreeze the £21,000 repayment threshold?"

    The SNP provides the best package of student support in the UK. The SNP is totally committed to the policy of free tuition for higher education students – and we will always reject the damaging approach taken by the Tories at Westminster.

    The Scottish Government provides substantial student loans for both undergraduate and master's level students – having recently brought in new loans of £10,000 to help students with tuition fees and living costs at master's level, allowing more people to access higher level and specialised degree programmes.

    We will never allow tuition fees to be levied on Scottish students – and we'll work to ensure that students in the rest of the UK don't have to keep paying the extortionate rates that the Tories have set for them.

    Read the full SNP manifesto.

  • Q. AFFORDABLE HOUSING:
    "How will you address the lack of affordable homes and/or help first-time buyers? What will you do to protect leaseholders from property developers, which sell freeholds to third parties who then ramp up ground rents?"

    We urgently need to tackle the shortage of affordable homes in this country. Everyone deserves a decent home but, for far too long, we have failed to build enough houses to make that a reality.

    The Liberal Democrats will double the rate of house-building to 300,000 new homes a year. Where the market doesn't deliver, we will step in and use government direct commissioning to get them built. We'll make sure that at least a third of these are affordable, energy-efficient homes, so that we have 500,000 more affordable homes by 2022.

    We'll also give local authorities and housing associations the power to borrow more to build the council and social housing communities badly need.

    As well as the lack of affordable homes, one of the biggest challenges facing first-time buyers is saving enough for a deposit. We'll take that out of the equation by introducing a new 'Rent to Own' model, whereby your monthly rent payments steadily acquire you an increasing stake in the property, until you own it outright after 30 years.

    There are other steps we need to take to bring an affordable home within reach for everyone, including giving councils the power to double council tax on second homes, conducting thorough leasehold reforms and tackling land banking by charging developers council tax on homes not completed after three years.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. BENEFITS:
    "What plans do you have for the benefits system? What protections will you put in place to prevent financial hardship as people are moved onto universal credit? Should people earn more working than on benefits – if so, how would you ensure this? Will you improve the highly criticised back-to-work assessments for disability benefits, specifically personal independence payments and employment and support allowance?"

    This government's assault on the poorest and most vulnerable in society must end. That's why the Liberal Democrats will end the Conservatives' freeze on working-age benefits and uprate them each year at least in line with inflation. We'll also reverse their cuts to universal credit, employment support allowance (for those in the work-related activity group) and child tax credit – including ending the unfair two-child policy. We do need to balance the country's books, but that must not be done on the backs of the poor.

    The way to encourage people into work is not to cut their benefits, but to make sure they can keep more of them when they enter work. By reversing the cuts to work allowances in universal credit, we will enable people to work for longer before their benefits are cut – making sure that it always pays to work and to take on more hours.

    We will also scrap the discredited work capability assessment, which far too often deems people 'fit to work' who are not. We'll replace it with a new system that is run by local authorities rather than private companies, and that makes a proper assessment of people's ability to work, including a real-world test based on the sorts of jobs that are available locally.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. BREXIT CONSUMER RIGHTS:
    "This has been very much ignored in Brexit discussions.  How will you guarantee, safeguard or improve our consumer rights as we exit the EU? Will your Government form a cross-department consumer-focused working group to navigate Brexit?"

    As well as being disastrous for jobs, the economy and our public services, the extreme form of Brexit being pursued by Theresa May could also jeopardise many of the rights and protections we enjoy as workers and consumers. Many of those protections are currently based on EU law and the judgments of the European Court of Justice. The Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure that consumer rights are not undermined by Brexit.

    The truth is that we don't yet know what Brexit will look like. The decisions Theresa May makes in these negotiations will affect the life of every single person in our country for decades to come. That's why we think you should have the final say on the Brexit in a referendum. And if you don't like that deal, you should have the choice to remain in the EU. It's about giving you your choice about your future.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. ENERGY PRICES:
    "66% of people are stuck on the most expensive tariffs – what will you do to get people on cheaper deals? Do you think all prices should be regulated? When did you last switch your energy tariff and how?"

    There is a real problem with rocketing energy bills and action needs to be taken to reduce them, in three key ways.

    The first is to make sure homes are better insulated, which will cut bills significantly. The Liberal Democrats will set new energy-efficiency targets, and make sure that at least four million homes are raised to 'Band C' by 2022.

    Our priority will be to improve the energy efficiency of fuel-poor households, cutting bills for those who need it the most. For new homes, we'll ensure that all of them are built to a zero-carbon standard, something that we introduced in coalition but the Conservatives have since scrapped.

    The second is to make sure people are switching to cheaper tariffs. They can do this by switching suppliers or by switching to a cheaper tariff from their existing supplier – we need stronger obligations on suppliers to inform their customers of the options and a public awareness campaign.

    Thirdly we need to make the energy market more competitive, by opening it up to smaller suppliers who can take on the 'big six'. We massively increased the number of smaller companies in the market during coalition, and they are growing in market share, but we need to ensure that public policy helps competition rather than stifles it as a price cap would do – inadvertently pushing up bills.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. FINANCIAL EDUCATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE:
    "It's been on the national curriculum in senior schools in England since 2015 (earlier elsewhere). Yet limited resources have been committed, and teachers haven't been trained. What will you do to make it work? How will you help to ensure schools that don't follow the curriculum teach this subject?"

    It's important that, at school, we prepare young people for the big decisions they'll have to make throughout their lives regarding their finances. I've long supported financial literacy's place on the curriculum – before I became leader of the Liberal Democrats, I was a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People – and am glad that we put it there in coalition government.

    Of course, the quality of financial education relies on the Government giving schools the money they need and valuing our teachers properly. That's why the Liberal Democrats will invest an extra £7 billion in schools and colleges, to make sure funding rises in line with both inflation and pupil numbers. We'll also end the Conservatives' public sector pay freeze, so that teachers finally receive the raises they deserve.

    We'll introduce a slimmed-down core curriculum that every state-funded school must teach, including academies and free schools. That core curriculum will include financial literacy, as well as other important life skills such as first aid, mental health education and age-appropriate sex and relationship education.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. INCOME TAX:
    "What will happen to tax rates and thresholds under your Government? Would you change the way and the rates the self-employed are taxed?"

    Taxes should be fair and they should be simple. In coalition, we raised the personal allowance, cutting income tax by £900 a year for most people and taking three million low-income workers out of paying income tax altogether. Our aim is to help those on low and middle incomes, and to ensure that those on the highest incomes, and large international companies, make a fair contribution.

    However, we are also being honest about the need to raise income tax rates by 1p to fund our NHS and social care services. We will ring-fence all of the £6 billion a year that will raise for health and care services, to make sure everyone has access to high-quality care throughout their lives.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. MENTAL HEALTH AND DEBT:
    "With over 50% of those in debt crisis having mental health issues, what will you do to help improve people's chances? What plans do you have to break this devastating link?"

    First and foremost, we must end the inequality between mental health care and the standards we rightly demand for physical health. I'm proud of the strides the Liberal Democrats made towards parity for mental health in coalition. We introduced the first waiting time standards, doubled the number of people receiving talking therapy and secured an extra £1.25 billion for children and young people's services. But, despite that progress, frontline mental health services are still terribly underfunded, and too many people simply don't have access to the care they need.

    The Liberal Democrats will ring-fence £1 billion for mental health services from the £6 billion raised by putting an extra 1p on income tax. That £1 billion will be used to increase access to treatment, so that no one has to wait more than six weeks to start therapy for anxiety or depression, as well as to improve emergency care for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

    But we also need to understand and tackle the link between mental ill-health and financial difficulties. We need to bring down the particular barriers many people with mental ill-health face when it comes to accessing bank accounts and other financial services. The Liberal Democrats will act to tackle financial exclusion, including by making it a key objective of the Financial Conduct Authority. In addition, the practice of charging patients for letters confirming to creditors that they have mental ill-health – a practice that only serves to exacerbate these problems – must end.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. MORTGAGE PRISONERS:
    "What will you do to help those stuck on high-rate mortgages, rejected from cheaper deals as they 'can't afford' them, due to affordability rules that aren't fit for purpose? Will you allow rent repayments to be used as a means of proving affordability when applying for a first mortgage?"

    No one should be arbitrarily denied a better mortgage deal and trapped into paying higher rates. We will review affordability criteria and ensure that they are fair for people with all levels of wealth. Our 'Rent to Own' model, under which monthly rent payments buy tenants an increasing share in their home until they own it outright after 30 years, would make home ownership possible for more people without the need for a mortgage or upfront deposit.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. RENTING:
    "What will you do to help those who are renting – and to make renting more attainable? How will you address the terrible fees, costs and services some face when renting privately?"

    For too many people, it's not just home ownership that's out of reach, but even the prospect of renting a home of their own. More than a third of people in their 20s now live with their parents – and the need for a sizeable deposit is a significant barrier to renting. The Liberal Democrats will establish a new Help to Rent scheme that will offer government-backed tenancy deposit loans to first-time renters under 30, of up to £1,500 outside London and £2,000 in London. We'll also remove another unfair barrier to renting by banning lettings fees for tenants, something we've been campaigning on extensively.

    Too many people who rent privately get a bad deal. We will raise the minimum standards that landlords have to meet, and give tenants more security by promoting longer tenancies of three years or more. We'll also protect tenants against rogue landlords, through mandatory licensing and access to a database of rogue landlords and property agents.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. SAVINGS:
    "Interest rates are at historic lows. How will you ensure savers start seeing a decent return on their nest egg?"

    I want to make Britain the best place in the world to save for, and enjoy, your retirement. As life expectancy rises, older people will need pension incomes that last a lot longer. We need to make the system of tax relief on pension contributions simpler, fairer and more generous for most people. That's why the Liberal Democrats will establish a review to consider a single rate of tax relief, set higher than the current 20% basic rate relief.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. SOCIAL CARE:
    "How do you plan to make social care available and affordable to everyone? Will you change the allowance for full-time carers from its current £62.70 a week – how much to?"

    Our care system is in crisis. The Liberal Democrats would invest an extra £2 billion into social care services a year, funded by our 1p rise in income tax rates. We'll also establish a cross-party health and care convention to integrate the NHS and social care and put them on a sustainable financial footing for the future.

    We are strongly opposed to Theresa May's heartless dementia tax, which would see elderly people having to sell their homes when they die to pay for care. Instead, we will cap care costs at £72,000 and take on the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission.

    We also need to support the millions of people around the country who care for others. The Liberal Democrats will raise the amount people can earn before losing carer's allowance from £110 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours' care per week required to qualify. We'll also introduce a carer's passport that will make sure carers' rights are respected in the NHS, including as flexible visiting hours and access to support.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. THE STATE PENSION:
    "What will you do to help the WASPI women born in the 1950s suffering hardship as their state pension ages were changed without enough notice? Will you retain or scrap the pension 'triple-lock' guarantee? Do you have any plans to change the state pension age?"

    We have a responsibility to make sure that those who've worked hard all their lives have a decent income in retirement, so that they can live with dignity and independence. We also need to give people certainty about how much they will receive once they retire.

    That's why I am proud that the Liberal Democrats introduced the triple lock in 2010, which resulted in the biggest-ever rise in the basic state pension. Unlike the Conservatives, we will keep that triple lock in place, so that pensions rise every year in line with earnings or prices, or by 2.5% – whichever's higher.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Q. STUDENT LOANS:
    "What are your plans for future student finance? How will you help those at university who don't get enough to live on? Will you be upfront with parents about what you expect them to contribute? Will you reverse the retrospective hike on student costs for those who started from 2012 to 2016 and unfreeze the £21,000 repayment threshold?"

    Our priority is to make sure that Britain's world-class universities are open to all, no matter their background. The Liberal Democrats will reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, so that living costs are not a barrier to going into higher education.

    We'll also reinstate bursaries for student nurses. The Conservative Government's short-sighted decision to cut them has led to a drastic fall in the number of people applying to study nursing, at a time when we desperately need more nurses. The Liberal Democrats will reverse it.

    Finally, we'll conduct a comprehensive review of university finance, with a focus on increasing access, widening participation and improving quality. We'll make sure there is no more retrospective raising of rates, or selling-off of loans to private companies.

    Tim Farron
    Liberal Democrats

    Read the full Liberal Democrat manifesto.

  • Q. AFFORDABLE HOUSING:
    "How will you address the lack of affordable homes and/or help first-time buyers? What will you do to protect leaseholders from property developers, which sell freeholds to third parties who then ramp up ground rents?"

    Plaid Cymru will create a dedicated National Housing Company to build affordable homes in Wales, including some for public rent. The National Housing Company would borrow against rents. We would insist on there being an emphasis on all of these homes being energy efficient.

    Housing policy is devolved to Wales and over the course of this assembly term we would build 10,000 extra houses on top of the existing Government's 20,000 target. We would also allow and encourage local authorities to build social housing to meet local demands.

    Plaid Cymru would legislate to reform the private rented sector to grant tenants longer-term and secure tenancies. This would also help landlords.

    We would continue to support the existing Help to Buy Wales scheme which provides government equity for those needing help to purchase their own homes. Leasehold and freehold reform is also long overdue. The next Parliament should legislate to create greater security and transparency for leaseholders.

    The 'Right to Buy' social housing is being ended in Wales by the Government, ensuring those units remain available for the public.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. BENEFITS:
    "What plans do you have for the benefits system? What protections will you put in place to prevent financial hardship as people are moved onto universal credit? Should people earn more working than on benefits – if so, how would you ensure this? Will you improve the highly criticised back-to-work assessments for disability benefits, specifically personal independence payments and employment and support allowance?"

    Plaid Cymru MPs opposed the cuts to social security and welfare that have been made by the Conservative Government, as well as opposing the "reforms" by the previous UK Labour Government, which led to the system being opened up to private providers. The worst cuts of all are those which have impacted on people with disabilities.

    Plaid Cymru would get rid of the profit motive when it comes to companies making assessments for benefit claims. Assessments would be made by medical professionals or other trained staff, not private companies.

    People should always earn more in work than they can on benefits. The best way to ensure this is by increasing wages and skills, not by cutting benefits. Plaid Cymru wants to see a real living wage, set by an independent commission, and an end to compulsory zero-hour contracts.

    Plaid Cymru wants Wales to have its own social security system like Scotland, where the damaging changes to universal credit are being mitigated and reduced. Under a Welsh system we would be able to act more fairly and compassionately, whilst maintaining the link between welfare and jobs.

    We want to end the bedroom tax and have proposed a no-evictions policy. In Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd Council we have introduced mitigation measures which have helped 1,300 families who would otherwise have been affected by the bedroom tax.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. BREXIT CONSUMER RIGHTS:
    "This has been very much ignored in Brexit discussions.  How will you guarantee, safeguard or improve our consumer rights as we exit the EU? Will your Government form a cross-department consumer-focused working group to navigate Brexit?"

    Plaid Cymru supports the need to guarantee consumer rights outside of the EU. We have advocated replicating the current EU regulations and standards. There should be an early guarantee on this from the UK Government. Better informed and protected consumers lead to a better economy, and also helps business.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. ENERGY PRICES:
    "66% of people are stuck on the most expensive tariffs – what will you do to get people on cheaper deals? Do you think all prices should be regulated? When did you last switch your energy tariff and how?"

    Governments should regulate the energy market to keep prices down and tackle fuel poverty.

    For Wales specifically, a Plaid Cymru government would create a national energy company, 'Energy Wales', to produce and sell electricity directly to people. Such an innovative company would enter the existing market and, without needing to pay its shareholders, invest all surpluses into reducing bills. At the moment Wales generates more electricity than it uses, yet bills here are often higher than the rest of the UK. Lower prices would be a way of addressing this inequity.

    I switched provider about five months ago and did it over the phone. I change tariff quite regularly.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. FINANCIAL EDUCATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE:
    "It's been on the national curriculum in senior schools in England since 2015 (earlier elsewhere). Yet limited resources have been committed, and teachers haven't been trained. What will you do to make it work? How will you help to ensure schools that don't follow the curriculum teach this subject?"

    Plaid Cymru has been pushing for this in the National Assembly, because education in Wales is decided there. A Plaid Cymru politician, Bethan Jenkins AM, had a Private Members' Bill to get financial literacy into the Welsh curriculum. We were grateful to Martin Lewis who welcomed this proposal by Plaid Cymru.

    Following discussions with the Welsh Government, we have been told that financial education is "embedded" in the new Welsh curriculum. But similarly to England, we need to ensure that additional resources are committed. I am not convinced that the status of the subject has yet been elevated, but Plaid Cymru will continue to champion this vitally important policy objective.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. INCOME TAX:
    "What will happen to tax rates and thresholds under your Government? Would you change the way and the rates the self-employed are taxed?"

    For the UK rates of tax, Plaid Cymru will not increase tax for the lowest or middle earners. We will vote in favour of increasing the additional rate, which affects people who earn £150,000 or more, from 45% to 50%.

    Plaid Cymru MPs opposed the attempts by the Conservatives to disadvantage those who are self-employed.

    Once Wales or the UK is outside of the EU, we would like to have the ability to vary VAT and corporation tax rates for specific sectors to incentivise job creation. We have said that VAT should be cut on tourism and on housing renovation.

    Tax is changing in Wales and in the future people will pay half of our income tax to the UK Treasury and the other half to Wales. We will still not be allowed by Westminster to change the thresholds, but have no plans to increase income tax.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. MENTAL HEALTH AND DEBT:
    "With over 50% of those in debt crisis having mental health issues, what will you do to help improve people's chances? What plans do you have to break this devastating link?"

    Plaid Cymru candidates are hearing anecdotally of links between debt and mental health. It's not just affecting those on low incomes who may be vulnerable to loan sharks; mental health is strained right across society and can affect those with wealth too. Affordable repayment plans are one way to reduce people's anxieties when it comes to debt.

    Plaid Cymru is committed to spending more money and more attention on mental health services, especially preventative interventions. Plaid Cymru has secured an extra £20 million per year so far from budget negotiations with the Welsh Government. But the link between debt and mental health problems isn't being made yet. Debt must be recognised as a cause of mental illness and stress, so that preventative treatments and financial plans can be put in place.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. MORTGAGE PRISONERS:
    "What will you do to help those stuck on high-rate mortgages, rejected from cheaper deals as they 'can't afford' them, due to affordability rules that aren't fit for purpose? Will you allow rent repayments to be used as a means of proving affordability when applying for a first mortgage?"

    It is alarming that some mortgage providers can do this. The Financial Ombudsman must have sufficient powers to help people trapped on high-rate mortgages. Plaid Cymru MPs would take up the case of any constituents who have this problem.

    I support the principle that evidence of rent repayments could be used as a substitute for part of a deposit, as long as such a system doesn't entice people into mortgages that they can't afford. We need to learn from the mistakes of unaffordable mortgages in the past.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. RENTING:
    "What will you do to help those who are renting – and to make renting more attainable? How will you address the terrible fees, costs and services some face when renting privately?"

    Plaid Cymru has made a number of proposals to get rid of letting agents' fees here in Wales, but the Labour Welsh Government has been slow to act.

    A regulated and transparent private rented sector is in the interests of both tenants and landlords. We would introduce restrictions in rent increases within tenancies so that they are proportionate and fair; and reform tenancy law to grant renters longer-term and more secure tenancies.

    Plaid Cymru has always acted as an advocate for fair rents.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. SAVINGS:
    "Interest rates are at historic lows. How will you ensure savers start seeing a decent return on their nest egg?"

    Low interest rates are good for governments who want to borrow and invest in the creaking infrastructure in Wales, which is a priority for Plaid Cymru. Governments should take advantage of this while they can.

    In terms of consumers and savers, we are in the hands of the Bank of England who are supposed to decide interest rates independently.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. SOCIAL CARE:
    "How do you plan to make social care available and affordable to everyone? Will you change the allowance for full-time carers from its current £62.70 a week – how much to?"

    In our manifesto for the Assembly elections – where health and social care policy is decided for Wales – Plaid Cymru had a radical proposal for the full integration of health and social care. Within two years of forming a Plaid Cymru government, we would introduce free personal care for older people. Within an assembly term, we would also abolish residential care charges for all people with a dementia diagnosis. This plan was independently costed and verified as being affordable within the current, growing Welsh NHS and social care budget. This is still our priority.

    The carer's allowance is currently decided by Westminster, and it's vital that we have Plaid Cymru MPs to stand up for carers. In Scotland the carer's allowance is devolved and they may set a better rate in the future, but Wales will miss out on this and have to follow whatever is decided in England, where full-time carers don't seem to be a priority. For the time being, Plaid Cymru MPs will support an increase in the carer's allowance. The UK is a rich economy and could easily afford an extra £10 per week for carers.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. THE STATE PENSION:
    "What will you do to help the WASPI women born in the 1950s suffering hardship as their state pension ages were changed without enough notice? Will you retain or scrap the pension 'triple-lock' guarantee? Do you have any plans to change the state pension age?"

    Plaid Cymru supports the WASPI campaign. We would keep the triple-lock guarantee on pensions and have committed to voting against any increases in the state pension age.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Q. STUDENT LOANS:
    "What are your plans for future student finance? How will you help those at university who don't get enough to live on? Will you be upfront with parents about what you expect them to contribute? Will you reverse the retrospective hike on student costs for those who started from 2012 to 2016 and unfreeze the £21,000 repayment threshold?"

    Plaid Cymru wants to abolish student debt in terms of fees. Our policy is that all Welsh-domiciled students who return to live and work in Wales, or stay in Wales after graduation, get £6,000 per year up to a maximum of £18,000 per year. Students would have a five-year window after graduation during which they could return to Wales. The idea behind this policy is to incentivise graduates to move back to Wales, so that our economy and public purse can benefit from their presence. Graduates are a major asset to any economy and at the moment Wales loses more of its skilled graduates than any other UK nation. This would obviously have an impact on the repayment threshold.

    Leanne Wood
    Plaid Cymru

    Read the full Plaid Cymru manifesto.

  • Q. AFFORDABLE HOUSING:
    "How will you address the lack of affordable homes and/or help first-time buyers? What will you do to protect leaseholders from property developers, which sell freeholds to third parties who then ramp up ground rents?"

    We should all have a safe, affordable, secure and warm place to call home and the Green Party would take action to give renters a fair deal, make social housing widely available and bring the housing market under control. We would do this in part by ending mass sales of council houses and scrapping Right to Buy at discounted prices.

    To help first-time buyers we would aim for house price stability, getting rid of buy-to-let tax breaks, and backing community-led approaches to building affordable homes. We'd also lift the local authority borrowing cap to facilitate building 100,000 affordable homes a year by 2022.

    Green MPs in Parliament would back legislation to stop the sale of new-build developments under leasehold. The practice of property developers using leasehold to rip people off should be stopped with freehold and commonhold used in their place, as appropriate.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. BENEFITS:
    "What plans do you have for the benefits system? What protections will you put in place to prevent financial hardship as people are moved onto universal credit? Should people earn more working than on benefits – if so, how would you ensure this? Will you improve the highly criticised back-to-work assessments for disability benefits, specifically personal independence payments and employment and support allowance?"

    The Green Party would redress benefits injustice with a social security system that means everyone can have confidence that they will get support when they need it. We'd undo the benefits freeze, scrap the bedroom tax and reinstate housing benefit for 18 to 25-year-olds. Crucially, we'd also fund a universal basic income pilot, to increase security and help people avoid the poverty trap. A universal basic income is a non-means-tested payment to everyone and is an idea that's also being piloted in places like Finland and Canada. This totally different system would also move us away from universal credit, which is deeply flawed.

    Whether working or on benefits, we want everyone to be able to live a good life. The social security system is there to provide a safety net at the times we need it and to incentivise people who can work into work, along with training, a living wage and investment in creating good jobs. Lots of important work, such as caring, is often unpaid, while many people who would like to work are too sick or disabled to do so. A universal basic income would make sure unpaid work is rewarded, while also freeing people to pursue fulfilling careers and carry out socially beneficial volunteering, for example.

    Fourteen per cent of our election candidates are disabled and we are very proud of our record on disabled rights. We'd scrap work capability assessments and replace them with proper support to get disabled people into meaningful work, alongside practical and financial help to enable disabled people to live their lives to the full. We would also get rid of the employment and support allowance cut for new claimants, and ditch sanctions.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. BREXIT CONSUMER RIGHTS:
    "This has been very much ignored in Brexit discussions. How will you guarantee, safeguard or improve our consumer rights as we exit the EU? Will your Government form a cross-department consumer-focused working group to navigate Brexit?"

    The Green Party supported the Remain campaign and continue to believe that membership of the EU makes our future more hopeful and secure. We will demand that the terms of the final deal are closely scrutinised and a ratification of the final deal including an option to remain. Nobody voted to tear up our consumer protections and if these are not part of any Brexit deal, we should have the democratic right to stay part of the EU. We do not accept that either a "hard" Brexit or an exit from the EU without a deal is in the interests of the British people. We will be actively campaigning to safeguard jobs, uphold basic rights, and put environmental protection and consumer rights at the heart of any future trade deals. We'd very much support the creation of a consumer-focused group working across departments to embed consumer and other rights in the Brexit negotiations.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. ENERGY PRICES:
    "66% of people are stuck on the most expensive tariffs – what will you do to get people on cheaper deals? Do you think all prices should be regulated? When did you last switch your energy tariff and how?"

    The Green Party wants to go further than simply getting people on to cheaper deals. We would seek to introduce progressive energy tariffs, so that small consumers pay less per unit than large ones, special needs are recognised, people are not cut off when they can't afford to pay, and nobody is forced to have prepayment meters. We would invest in community-owned energy which generates clean energy, tackles fuel poverty and could bring down bills. Crucially though we argue that the best way to bring down bills is with a Warm Homes Programme of home insulation.

    I switch every year via uSwitch or other switching sites, but I also installed solar panels on my roof myself by hand.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. FINANCIAL EDUCATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE:
    "It's been on the national curriculum in senior schools in England since 2015 (earlier elsewhere). Yet limited resources have been committed, and teachers haven't been trained. What will you do to make it work? How will you help to ensure schools that don't follow the curriculum teach this subject?"

    Caroline Lucas, Green MP from 2010-17 and candidate in this election, has led the parliamentary campaign for personal, social, health and economic education to be made compulsory. There has been some recent legislative success following this campaign, but it now must be implemented. Green MPs in Parliament would work hard to ensure that economic and financial education for all young people would be implemented by 2019 at the latest, and that teachers get high-quality ongoing training in this vital subject.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. INCOME TAX:
    "What will happen to tax rates and thresholds under your Government? Would you change the way and the rates the self-employed are taxed?"

    The Green Party think we need a more progressive taxation system so those with the broadest shoulders take on more responsibility. We would increase the tax rate paid at the top to 60% but not change other income tax bands or rates. We would also impose a wealth tax on the top 1%, reinstate the higher level of corporation tax for large businesses and reform inheritance tax so it is paid according to the wealth of the recipient, not the donor.

    We know that self-employment is growing and have worked in the past to ensure a fairer tax system for those who are self-employed, especially small business owners and those who chose self-employment as a way to increase flexibility. Our goal would be to ensure everyone can earn a decent wage, enjoy as much job security as possible and to encourage a diverse and creative economy. We would make changes to the tax system to this end.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. MENTAL HEALTH AND DEBT:
    "With over 50% of those in debt crisis having mental health issues, what will you do to help improve people's chances? What plans do you have to break this devastating link?"

    Green MPs would bring mental health care in line with physical health care and ensure people experiencing mental health crises are supported close to their home and support networks – and we will always vote for a fairer tax system that helps those at the bottom to get out of debt, and onto a secure financial footing.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. MORTGAGE PRISONERS:
    "What will you do to help those stuck on high-rate mortgages, rejected from cheaper deals as they 'can't afford' them, due to affordability rules that aren't fit for purpose? Will you allow rent repayments to be used as a means of proving affordability when applying for a first mortgage?"

    Green MPs would campaign for an end to the unfair treatment of mortgage-payers by banks who refuse to transfer property owners onto cheaper mortgage tariffs, and work with the Bank of England to assess how rental payments could be used to support applications for a first mortgage. We'd also support the right to rent as an option for anyone struggling to pay their mortgage. This would allow you to stay in your home as a renter rather than risk losing it.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. RENTING:
    "What will you do to help those who are renting – and to make renting more attainable? How will you address the terrible fees, costs and services some face when renting privately?"

    More and more of us are in the private rented sector and the Green Party wants to make renting more affordable by ensuring more homes are built to keep pace with demand. We'd give renters real security with a living rent for all, through rent controls, and more secure tenancies for private renters. We would end letting fees and mandatory licensing for all landlords, as well as supporting the development of renters' unions to give tenants a voice.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. SAVINGS:
    "Interest rates are at historic lows. How will you ensure savers start seeing a decent return on their nest egg?"

    Our economy is distorted by crippling housing costs, so whilst low interest rates are valued by families struggling with mortgages, savers are penalised. This is clearly a very difficult problem and Greens would take a long-term approach, rebalancing the housing market, so that over time people start to see value in saving, without mortgage holders facing unaffordable interest rate hikes. We would invest in community banks, mutually owned and serving local areas or particular groups. It is also vital that we have a decent basic state pension, so that people are not penalised for saving by a system with too much means-testing: that's a key reason why the Green Party backs the idea of a citizen's pension.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. SOCIAL CARE:
    "How do you plan to make social care available and affordable to everyone? Will you change the allowance for full-time carers from its current £62.70 a week – how much to?"

    We would work towards bringing social care into the public sector and integrated with the NHS, starting with a major investment in social care for the elderly and all those who need it. 2015/16 state expenditure on adult social care was £17 billion in England, with an estimated £7.4 billion spent by those funding their own care.

    Greens would invest at least £7.5 billion a year to deliver universal free social care. This could be funded by scrapping pension tax relief for example, which could generate just over £7 billion a year, and reforms to inheritance tax. We would also invest in significantly increasing the carer's allowance in recognition of the hard and vital work those who care do.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. THE STATE PENSION:
    "What will you do to help the WASPI women born in the 1950s suffering hardship as their state pension ages were changed without enough notice? Will you retain or scrap the pension 'triple-lock' guarantee? Do you have any plans to change the state pension age?"

    Green MPs will back WASPI women at the grassroots and in Parliament – working to support all cross-party parliamentary efforts to secure justice and financial redress for the WASPI women who face serious hardship following the unforgivable lack of notice of changes to their state pension age.

    Green MPs would strongly resist any attempt by the Government to abandon the pension triple lock in the next parliament. We want to lift pensioners out of poverty and ensure that the older generation can live with dignity and enjoy fulfilling lives.

    Our plans for a universal basic income, a non-means-tested payment to everyone, and an idea that's being piloted in places like Finland and Canada, would guarantee everyone financial security. This would become a citizen's pension at state pension age, giving everyone a continued source of guaranteed income at every age. In the meantime, we would redress pension injustice, with a pensions system for everyone and action to enable older people to continue to be active members of society.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Q. STUDENT LOANS:
    "What are your plans for future student finance? How will you help those at university who don't get enough to live on? Will you be upfront with parents about what you expect them to contribute? Will you reverse the retrospective hike on student costs for those who started from 2012 to 2016 and unfreeze the £21,000 repayment threshold?"

    Education is a right not a commodity to be bought and sold, and we need a level playing field so everyone has the chance to go to university or college. We would get rid of tuition fees and reinstate maintenance grants with immediate effect.

    Jonathan Bartley
    Green Party

    Read the full Green Party manifesto.

  • Q. AFFORDABLE HOUSING:
    "How will you address the lack of affordable homes and/or help first-time buyers? What will you do to protect leaseholders from property developers, which sell freeholds to third parties who then ramp up ground rents?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. BENEFITS:
    "What plans do you have for the benefits system? What protections will you put in place to prevent financial hardship as people are moved onto universal credit? Should people earn more working than on benefits – if so, how would you ensure this? Will you improve the highly criticised back-to-work assessments for disability benefits, specifically personal independence payments and employment and support allowance?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. BREXIT CONSUMER RIGHTS:
    "This has been very much ignored in Brexit discussions.  How will you guarantee, safeguard or improve our consumer rights as we exit the EU? Will your Government form a cross-department consumer-focused working group to navigate Brexit?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. ENERGY PRICES:
    "66% of people are stuck on the most expensive tariffs – what will you do to get people on cheaper deals? Do you think all prices should be regulated? When did you last switch your energy tariff and how?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. FINANCIAL EDUCATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE:
    "It's been on the national curriculum in senior schools in England since 2015 (earlier elsewhere). Yet limited resources have been committed, and teachers haven't been trained. What will you do to make it work? How will you help to ensure schools that don't follow the curriculum teach this subject?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. INCOME TAX:
    "What will happen to tax rates and thresholds under your Government? Would you change the way and the rates the self-employed are taxed?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. MENTAL HEALTH AND DEBT:
    "With over 50% of those in debt crisis having mental health issues, what will you do to help improve people's chances? What plans do you have to break this devastating link?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. MORTGAGE PRISONERS:"What will you do to help those stuck on high-rate mortgages, rejected from cheaper deals as they 'can't afford' them, due to affordability rules that aren't fit for purpose? Will you allow rent repayments to be used as a means of proving affordability when applying for a first mortgage?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. RENTING:
    "What will you do to help those who are renting – and to make renting more attainable? How will you address the terrible fees, costs and services some face when renting privately?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. SAVINGS:"Interest rates are at historic lows. How will you ensure savers start seeing a decent return on their nest egg?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. SOCIAL CARE:
    "How do you plan to make social care available and affordable to everyone? Will you change the allowance for full-time carers from its current £62.70 a week – how much to?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. THE STATE PENSION:
    "What will you do to help the WASPI women born in the 1950s suffering hardship as their state pension ages were changed without enough notice? Will you retain or scrap the pension 'triple-lock' guarantee? Do you have any plans to change the state pension age?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Q. STUDENT LOANS:
    "What are your plans for future student finance? How will you help those at university who don't get enough to live on? Will you be upfront with parents about what you expect them to contribute? Will you reverse the retrospective hike on student costs for those who started from 2012 to 2016 and unfreeze the £21,000 repayment threshold?"

    AGREED TO RESPOND BUT DID NOT MEET THE DEADLINE.

    WE STILL AWAIT ANSWERS.

    Read the full UKIP manifesto.

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