Politics 20 May 2010 The Coalition Programme: Part 2 Print HTML The Coalition Programme 23. NHS 24. Pensions and Older People 25. Political Reform 26. Public Health 27. Schools 28. Social Action 29. Social Care and Disability 30. Taxation 31. Transport 32. Universities and Further Education Click here to go to The Coalition Programme: Part 1 23. NHS The Government believes that the NHS is an important expression of our national values. We are committed to an NHS that is free at the point of use and available to everyone based on need, not the ability to pay. We want to free NHS staff from political micromanagement, increase democratic participation in the NHS and make the NHS more accountable to the patients that it serves. That way we will drive up standards, support professional responsibility, deliver better value for money and create a healthier nation. -- We will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision will have on other departments. -- We will stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in the way of patient care. We are committed to reducing duplication and the resources spent on administration, and diverting these resources back to front-line care. -- We will significantly cut the number of health quangos. -- We will cut the cost of NHS administration by a third and transfer resources to support doctors and nurses on the front line. -- We will stop the centrally dictated closure of A&E and maternity wards, so that people have better access to local services. -- We will strengthen the power of GPs as patients' expert guides through the health system by enabling them to commission care on their behalf. -- We will ensure that there is a stronger voice for patients locally through directly elected individuals on the boards of their local primary care trust (PCT). The remainder of the PCT's board will be appointed by the relevant local authority or authorities, and the Chief Executive and principal officers will be appointed by the Secretary of State on the advice of the new independent NHS board. This will ensure the right balance between locally accountable individuals and technical expertise. -- The local PCT will act as a champion for patients and commission those residual services that are best undertaken at a wider level, rather than directly by GPs. It will also take responsibility for improving public health for people in their area, working closely with the local authority and other local organisations. -- If a local authority has concerns about a significant proposed closure of local services, for example an A&E department, it will have the right to challenge health organisations, and refer the case to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. The Panel would then provide advice to the Secretary of State for Health. -- We will give every patient the right to choose to register with the GP they want, without being restricted by where they live. -- We will develop a 24/7 urgent care service in every area of England, including GP out-ofhours services, and ensure every patient can access a local GP. We will make care more accessible by introducing a single number for every kind of urgent care and by using technology to help people communicate with their doctors. -- We will renegotiate the GP contract and incentivise ways of improving access to primary care in disadvantaged areas. -- We will make the NHS work better by extending best practice on improving discharge from hospital, maximising the number of day care operations, reducing delays prior to operations, and where possible enabling community access to care and treatments. -- We will help elderly people live at home for longer through solutions such as home adaptations and community support programmes. -- We will prioritise dementia research within the health research and development budget. -- We will seek to stop foreign healthcare professionals working in the NHS unless they have passed robust language and competence tests. -- Doctors and nurses need to be able to use their professional judgement about what is right for patients and we will support this by giving front-line staff more control of their working environment. -- We will strengthen the role of the Care Quality Commission so it becomes an effective quality inspectorate. We will develop Monitor into an economic regulator that will oversee aspects of access, competition and price-setting in the NHS. -- We will establish an independent NHS board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidelines. -- We will enable patients to rate hospitals and doctors according to the quality of care they received, and we will require hospitals to be open about mistakes and always tell patients if something has gone wrong. -- We will measure our success on the health results that really matter -- such as improving cancer and stroke survival rates or reducing hospital infections. -- We will publish detailed data about the performance of healthcare providers online, so everyone will know who is providing a good service and who is falling behind. -- We will put patients in charge of making decisions about their care, including control of their health records. -- We will create a Cancer Drugs Fund to enable patients to access the cancer drugs their doctors think will help them, paid for using money saved by the NHS through our pledge to stop the rise in Employer National Insurance contributions from April 2011. -- We will reform NICE and move to a system of value-based pricing, so that all patients can access the drugs and treatments their doctors think they need. -- We will introduce a new dentistry contract that will focus on achieving good dental health and increasing access to NHS dentistry, with an additional focus on the oral health of schoolchildren. -- We will provide £10 million a year beyond 2011 from within the budget of the Department of Health to support children's hospices in their vital work. And so that proper support for the most sick children and adults can continue in the setting of their choice, we will introduce a new per-patient funding system for all hospices and providers of palliative care. -- We will encourage NHS organisations to work better with their local police forces to clamp down on anyone who is aggressive and abusive to staff. -- We are committed to the continuous improvement of the quality of services to patients, and to achieving this through much greater involvement of independent and voluntary providers. -- We will give every patient the power to choose any healthcare provider that meets NHS standards, within NHS prices. This includes independent, voluntary and community sector providers. Back to top 24. Pensions and Older People The Government believes that people deserve dignity and respect in old age, and that they should be provided with the support they need. That means safeguarding key benefits and pensions, and taking action to make it easier for older people to work or volunteer. -- We will restore the earnings link for the basic state pension from April 2011, with a 'triple guarantee' that pensions are raised by the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5%. -- We will commit to establishing an independent commission to review the longterm affordability of public sector pensions, while protecting accrued rights. -- We will phase out the default retirement age and hold a review to set the date at which the state pension age starts to rise to 66, although it will not be sooner than 2016 for men and 2020 for women. We will end the rules requiring compulsory annuitisation at 75. -- We will implement the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman's recommendation to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policy holders, through an independent payment scheme, for their relative loss as a consequence of regulatory failure. -- We will explore the potential to give people greater flexibility in accessing part of their personal pension fund early. -- We will protect key benefits for older people such as the winter fuel allowance, free TV licences, free bus travel, and free eye tests and prescriptions. -- We will simplify the rules and regulations relating to pensions to help reinvigorate occupational pensions, encouraging companies to offer high-quality pensions to all employees, and we will work with business and the industry to support auto enrolment. Back to top 25. Political Reform The Government believes that our political system is broken. We urgently need fundamental political reform, including a referendum on electoral reform, much greater co-operation across party lines, and changes to our political system to make it far more transparent and accountable. -- We will establish five-year fixed-term Parliaments. We will put a binding motion before the House of Commons stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, we will legislate to make provision for fixed-term Parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour -- We will bring forward a Referendum Bill onelectoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. We will whip both Parliamentary parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum. -- We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents. -- We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election. -- We will bring forward the proposals ofthe Wright Committee for reform to the House of Commons in full -- starting with the proposed committee for management of backbench business. A House Business Committee, to consider government business, will be established by the third year of the Parliament. -- We will reduce electoral fraud by speeding up the implementation of individual voter registration. -- We will establish a commission to consider the 'West Lothian question'. -- We will prevent the possible misuse of Parliamentary privilege by MPs accused of serious wrongdoing. -- We will cut the perks and bureaucracy associated with Parliament. -- We will consult with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on how to move away from the generous final-salary pension system for MPs. -- We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this Parliament, targeted at seats which have not changed hands for many years. These funds will be allocated to all political parties with seats in Parliament that they take up, in proportion to their share of the total vote in the last general election. -- We will ensure that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures will be eligible for formal debate in Parliament. The petition with the most signatures will enable members of the public to table a bill eligible to be voted on in Parliament. -- We will introduce a new 'public reading stage' for bills to give the public an opportunity to comment on proposed legislation online, and a dedicated 'public reading day' within a bill's committee stage where those comments will be debated by the committee scrutinising the bill. -- We will improve the civil service, and make it easier to reward the best civil servants and remove the least effective. -- We will reform the Civil Service Compensation Scheme to bring it into line with practice in the private sector. -- We will put a limit on the number on Special Advisers. -- We will introduce extra support for people with disabilities who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials. -- We will open up Whitehall recruitment by publishing central government job vacancies online. -- We will publish details of every UK project that receives over £25,000 of EU funds. -- We will give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue. -- We will stop plans to impose supplementary business rates on firms if a majority of the firms affected do not give their consent. -- We will give residents the power to veto excessive council tax increases. -- We will continue to promote peace, stability and economic prosperity in Northern Ireland, standing firmly behind the agreements negotiated and institutions they establish. We will work to bring Northern Ireland back into the mainstream of UK politics, including producing a government paper examining potential mechanisms for changing the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland. -- We will implement the proposals of the Calman Commission and introduce a referendum on further Welsh devolution. -- We will review the control and use of accumulated and future revenues from the Fossil Fuel Levy in Scotland. -- We recognise the concerns expressed by the Holtham Commission on the system of devolution funding. However, at this time, the priority must be to reduce the deficit and therefore any change to the system must await the stabilisation of the public finances. Depending on the outcome of the forthcoming referendum, we will establish a process similar to the Calman Commission for the Welsh Assembly. We will take forward the Sustainable Homes Legislative Competence Order. -- We will make the running of government more efficient by introducing enhanced Departmental Boards which will form collective operational leadership of government departments. Back to top 26. Public Health The Government believes that we need action to promote public health, and encourage behaviour change to help people live healthier lives. We need an ambitious strategy to prevent ill-health which harnesses innovative techniques to help people take responsibility for their own health. -- We will give local communities greater control over public health budgets with payment by the outcomes they achieve in improving the health of local residents. -- We will give GPs greater incentives to tackle public health problems. -- We will investigate ways of improving access to preventative healthcare for those in disadvantaged areas to help tackle health inequalities. -- We will ensure greater access to talking therapies to reduce long-term costs for the NHS. Back to top 27. Schools The Government believes that we need to reform our school system to tackle educational inequality, which has widened in recent years, and to give greater powers to parents and pupils to choose a good school. We want to ensure high standards of discipline in the classroom, robust standards and the highest quality teaching. We also believe that the state should help parents, community groups and others come together to improve the education system by starting new schools. -- We will promote the reform of schools in order to ensure that new providers can enter the state school system in response to parental demand; that all schools have greater freedom over the curriculum; and that all schools are held properly to account. -- We will fund a significant premium for disadvantaged pupils from outside the schools budget by reductions in spending elsewhere. -- We will give parents, teachers, charities and local communities the chance to set up new schools, as part of our plans to allow new providers to enter the state school system in response to parental demand. -- We will support Teach First, create Teach Now to build on the Graduate Teacher Programme, and seek other ways to improve the quality of the teaching profession. -- We will reform the existing rigid national pay and conditions rules to give schools greater freedoms to pay good teachers more and deal with poor performance. -- We will help schools tackle bullying in schools, especially homophobic bullying. -- We will simplify the regulation of standards in education and target inspection on areas of failure. -- We will give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils and take other measures to protect against false accusations. -- We will seek to attract more top science and maths graduates to be teachers. -- We will publish performance data on educational providers, as well as past exam papers. -- We will create more flexibility in the exams systems so that state schools can offer qualifications like the IGCSE. -- We will reform league tables so that schools are able to focus on, and demonstrate, the progress of children of all abilities. -- We will give heads and teachers the powers they need to ensure discipline in the classroom and promote good behaviour. -- We believe the most vulnerable children deserve the very highest quality of care. We will improve diagnostic assessment for schoolchildren, prevent the unnecessary closure of special schools, and remove the bias towards inclusion. -- We will improve the quality of vocational education, including increasing flexibility for 14-to-19-year-olds and creating new Technical Academies as part of our plans to diversify schools provision. -- We will keep external assessment, but will review how Key Stage 2 tests operate in future. -- We will ensure that all new Academies follow an inclusive admissions policy. We will work with faith groups to enable more faith schools and facilitate inclusive admissions policies in as many of these schools as possible. Back to top 28. Social Action The Government believes that the innovation and enthusiasm of civil society is essential in tackling the social, economic and political challenges that the UK faces today. We will take action to support and encourage social responsibility, volunteering and philanthropy, and make it easier for people to come together to improve their communities and help one another. -- We will support the creation and expansion of mutuals, co-operatives, charities and social enterprises, and enable these groups to have much greater involvement in the running of public services. -- We will give public sector workers a new right to form employee-owned co-operatives and bid to take over the services they deliver. This will empower millions of public sector workers to become their own boss and help them to deliver better services. -- We will train a new generation of community organisers and support the creation of neighbourhood groups across the UK, especially in the most deprived areas. -- We will take a range of measures to encourage charitable giving and philanthropy. -- We will introduce National Citizen Service. The initial flagship project will provide a programme for 16 year olds to give them a chance to develop the skills needed to be active and responsible citizens, mix with people from different backgrounds, and start getting involved in their communities. -- We will use funds from dormant bank accounts to establish a 'Big Society Bank', which will provide new finance for neighbourhood groups, charities, social enterprises and other non-governmental bodies. -- We will take a range of measures to encourage volunteering and involvement in social action, including launching a national day to celebrate and encourage social action, and make regular community service an element of civil service staff appraisals. Back to top 29. Social Care and Disability The Government believes that people needing care deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We understand the urgency of reforming the system of social care to provide much more control to individuals and their carers, and to ease the cost burden that they and their families face. -- We will establish a commission on long-term care, to report within a year. The commission will consider a range of ideas, including both a voluntary insurance scheme to protect the assets of those who go into residential care, and a partnership scheme as proposed by Derek Wanless. -- We will break down barriers between health and social care funding to incentivise preventative action. -- We will extend the greater roll-out of personal budgets to give people and their carers more control and purchasing power. -- We will use direct payments to carers and better community-based provision to improve access to respite care. -- We will reform Access to Work, so disabled people can apply for jobs with funding already secured for any adaptations and equipment they will need. Back to top 30. Taxation The Government believes that the tax system needs to be reformed to make it more competitive, simpler, greener and fairer. We need to take action to ensure that the tax framework better reflects the values of this Government. -- We will increase the personal allowance for income tax to help lower and middle income earners. We will announce in the first Budget a substantial increase in the personal allowance from April 2011, with the benefits focused on those with lower and middle incomes. This will be funded with the money that would have been used to pay for the increase in employee National Insurance thresholds proposed by the Conservative Party, as well as revenues from increases in Capital Gains Tax rates for non-business assets as described below. The increase in employer national Insurance thresholds proposed by the Conservatives will go ahead in order to stop the planned jobs tax. -- We will further increase the personal allowance to £10,000, making real terms steps each year towards meeting this as a longerterm policy objective. We will prioritise this over other tax cuts, including cuts to Inheritance Tax. -- We will also ensure that provision is made for Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain on budget resolutions to introduce transferable tax allowances for married couples without prejudice to the coalition agreement. -- We will reform the taxation of air travel by switching from a per-passenger to a per-plane duty, and will ensure that a proportion of any increased revenues over time will be used to help fund increases in the personal allowance. -- We will seek ways of taxing non-business capital gains at rates similar or close to those applied to income, with generous exemptions for entrepreneurial business activities. -- We will make every effort to tackle tax avoidance, including detailed development of Liberal Democrat proposals. -- We will increase the proportion of tax revenue accounted for by environmental taxes. -- We will take measures to fulfil our EU treaty obligations in regard to the taxation of holiday letting that do not penalise UK-based businesses. -- We will review the taxation of non-domiciled individuals. Back to top 31. Transport The Government believes that a modern transport infrastructure is essential for a dynamic and entrepreneurial economy, as well as to improve well-being and quality of life. We need to make the transport sector greener and more sustainable, with tougher emission standards and support for new transport technologies. -- We will mandate a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. -- We will grant longer rail franchises in order to give operators the incentive to invest in the improvements passengers want -- like better services, better stations, longer trains and better rolling stock. -- We will reform the way decisions are made on which transport projects to prioritise, so that the benefits of low carbon proposals (including light rail schemes) are fully recognised. -- We will make Network Rail more accountable to its customers. -- We will establish a high speed rail network as part of our programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy. Our vision is of a truly national high speed rail network for the whole of Britain. Given financial constraints, we will have to achieve this in phases. -- We support Crossrail and further electrification of the rail network. -- We will turn the rail regulator into a powerful passenger champion. -- We will support sustainable travel initiatives, including the promotion of cycling and walking, and will encourage joint working between bus operators and local authorities. -- We are committed to fair pricing for rail travel. -- We will work towards the introduction of a new system of HGV road user charging to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers. -- We will stop central government funding for new fixed speed cameras and switch to more effective ways of making our roads safer, including authorising 'drugalyser' technology. -- We will tackle rogue private sector wheel clampers. Back to top 32. Universities and Further Education The Government believes that our universities are essential for building a strong and innovative economy. We will take action to create more college and university places, as well as help to foster stronger links between universities, colleges and industries. -- We will seek ways to support the creation of apprenticeships, internships, work pairings, and college and workplace training places as part of our wider programme to get Britain working. -- We will set colleges free from direct state control and abolish many of the further education quangos. Public funding should be fair and follow the choices of students. -- We will await Lord Browne's final report into higher education funding, and will judge its proposals against the need to: -- increase social mobility; -- take into account the impact on student debt; -- ensure a properly funded university sector; -- improve the quality of teaching; -- advance scholarship; and -- attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. -- If the response of the Government to Lord Browne's report is one that Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote. -- We will review support for part-time students in terms of loans and fees. -- We will publish more information about the costs, graduate earnings and student satisfaction of different university courses. -- We will ensure that public funding mechanisms for university research safeguard its academic integrity. 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