General Election welfare policies: What every party has said ahead of manifesto release

By Will Pickworth, Rhys Noye-Allen, Ahmed Shooble and Sammy Mngqosini
November 9 2019, 12.25

Despite the issue of welfare’s prevalence in the 2019 General Election, just 9% of people believe it is one of the top three issues.

Nevertheless, its importance cannot be underestimated as the most recent data from the Social Metrics Commission in 2017/18 said 14.3 million people currently live in poverty in the UK.

This is exacerbated by alarming figures that 34% of children nationally live in poverty.

With manifestos set to be released next week, here’s are the key welfare issues for each party.

Brexit Party on welfare

Welfare is not their the Brexit Party’s main issue in this election – clearly – but Chelsea resident Nigel Farage has spoken about what his party would plan to do if they were elected.

The party is expected to largely maintain the welfare state in its current form. While radical changes are unlikely, the party has suggested it is willing to invest in key areas.

One aspect of welfare that concerns the Brexit Party is social care. The official website explains that social care is an essential and treasured public service that needs investment to improve.

Another key issue within welfare is the growing cost of living within the United Kingdom.

Londoners are particularly concerned by the rising cost and may expect politicians to act.

In a bid to lower the cost of living the Brexit Party has pledged to reduce tariffs on food, clothing and footwear.

Conservatives on welfare

Conservative policies about benefits and welfare payments have been continually criticised and blamed for a rise in the number of people using food banks.

The party has reiterated that the benefits freeze will only last until April 2020. Universal Credit will rise in line with inflation (1.7%), while the state pension will increase by 3.9%, or £344 per year, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Boris Johnson’s Government have come under fire for their welfare approach

Universal Credit accounted for £100m of UK Government welfare expenditure in 2014–15, but the total expenditure was £213.9bn so while it is a hot topic, it doesn’t actually account for that much of the UK’s welfare expenditure.

Labour’s claim that the Conservatives want to increase the pension age to 75 has proved unfounded. This was recommended in a report by the Centre for Social Justice think tank but there is no indication that this will be Tory policy.

Green Party on welfare

The Green Equalities and Social Justice spokesperson is Alexandra Phillips MEP.

One of the Green Party’s major policies within welfare is to replace the “punitive” Universal Credit with a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all by 2025.

Co-leader Sian Berry announced this policy would cost taxpayers an estimated £75bn per annum.

Under UBI, each adult would get a weekly payment of £89, with more available for those who are unable to work such as disabled people or the elderly.

Other than Housing Benefit and Carer’s Allowance, all benefits that are currently in existence would phased into the UBI over a five-year period.

To fund these policies, the Greens would increase income tax on the highest earners and introduce carbon taxes.

The party argues that under its plans someone working full time on the minimum wage would see their income rise by 32%.

Labour on welfare

A future Labour government plans to scrap Universal Credit, a move that would lead to the second re-design of the working-age means tested benefits system in a decade.

Universal Credit would be replaced by a ‘real living wage’ of £10 an hour with a reduction of the waiting time for benefit payments being decreased.

The benefit cap and two-child benefit limit will be scrapped.

There are plans for a policy that will increase statutory maternity pay from nine to 12 months and close the gender pay gap by 2030.

Additionally, there is a proposed move to a 32-hour average working week within the next decade.

According to the Daily Express, Labour’s planned welfare spending will cost £520 billion. Full costing will be revealed in their manifesto.

Liberal Democrats on welfare

Former leader Tim Farron is the Lib Dem’s Shadow Secretary for Housing, Communities, Local Government and Work and Pensions.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to “build a fairer economy” if they are elected.

They have pledged to provide free childcare for children from nine months of age.

Tim Farron with Vince Cable and Sarah Olney in Surbiton
Tim Farron will lead the Liberal Democrats on welfare issues

They also want to give every adult £10,000 to spend on skills and training throughout their lives to improve the economy’s talent.

The party is outspoken on its Remain principles and would invest the £50 billion that they believe remaining in the Eurovision Union would save in public services in a bid to reduce inequality.

They have also outlined plans to abolish the bedroom tax and to scrap all benefits sanctions.

The Lib Dems have recently announced a pledge to compensate women born in the 1950s who are among the first to be affected by a sharp rise in the state pension age.


One in 10 parents in London cannot afford to feed their children properly.

According to a City Hall report, it is estimated that 400,000 children and 1.5 million adults in the capital are living in “food insecurity” where they may not have enough money for their next meal.

The City Hall study says about 21% of adult Londoners have spent less on food in the last year because of financial difficulties.

One in eight admit to having been hungry but not eaten because there wasn’t enough money for food, and 9% of parents said their children were not eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough food.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Economic inequality in our city and our country is simply too high.

“It should concern us all that so many Londoners are having to turn to loans and credit cards to get by.”

The Mayor has also been critical of Universal Credit.

He said: “The Government’s introduction of Universal Credit has been an unmitigated disaster and should be stopped before it forces any more Londoners onto the streets.”

Director of Generation Rent Dan Wilson Craw has emphasised the importance of the welfare system to Londoners.

He said: “Without a reliable housing benefit system, Londoners on low incomes are getting into debt, going without food and heating or being forced to move out of neighbourhoods they grew up in.

“This is fuelling physical and mental ill-health and, by disrupting educations, devastating the prospects of thousands of children.”

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