The General Election – what the major parties manifestos reveal about planned changes to our laws

We felt we ought to acknowledge the General Election by reviewing the manifestos of the three main political parties to see what new laws they have planned. The manifestos varied in detail, so this summary is not all-encompassing and for the sake of brevity, we have focused mainly on new domestic legislation that falls within our own areas of legal expertise, and not included laws that relate to e.g. crime or immigration.

CONSERVATIVE

  • Planning & Building – Amend planning laws so that judicial reviews that don’t have merit do not waste court time e.g. planning for local markets and the regeneration of shopping centres. Abolish EU ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules with developers required in law to pay a one-off mitigation fee so there is no net additional pollution.
  • Landlord & Tenant – Introduce a two-year temporary Capital Gains Tax relief for landlords who sell to their existing tenants.
  • Property – Permanently abolish Stamp Duty for homes up to £425,000 for first-time buyers and introduce a new Help to Buy scheme.
  • Family Law – Expand Pathfinder Courts pilot in family court proceedings that aims to improve the court’s response to victims of domestic abuse and centre the voice of the child in proceedings. Reform laws to prevent noncompliance with Child Maintenance Service and help stop non-payment.
  • Dispute Resolution – Introduce an Arbitration Bill to help individuals and small businesses bring cases against wealthier opponents with legislation to support third-party funding of litigation.
  • Gender – Introduce legislation to clarify that the protected characteristic of sex in the Equality Act means biological sex.
  • Education – New legislation to give parents the right to see what their child is being taught at school and ensure schools follow guidance for teachers when children have ‘gender questions’. Change the law to close university courses in England with the worst outcomes for students,

LABOUR

  • Property – Give first-time buyers the first chance to buy local authority homes from new developments, rather than investors. Introduce a permanent mortgage guarantee scheme for first-time buyers. Enact the package of Law Commission proposals on leasehold enfranchisement, right to manage and commonhold. Ban new leasehold flats. Tackle ground rent charges and unfair maintenance costs.
  • Planning & Development – Change planning laws to remove red tape when building new houses, giga factories, windfarms, roads, labs and ports. For specific types of development schemes, ensure landowners are awarded fair compensation rather than inflated prices based on the prospect of planning permission. Introduce ‘golden rules’ prioritising and fast-tracking the development of brownfield land and preserving the green belt.
  • Landlord & Tenant – Abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, empower renters to challenge unreasonable rent increases, extend ‘Awaab’s Law’ to the private sector.
  • Employment – Introduce legislation banning zero-hours contracts; ending fire and rehire; and introducing basic rights from day one to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal. Strengthen the collective voice of workers, including through trade unions, and create a Single Enforcement Body to ensure employment rights are upheld. Remove age bands so all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage. Employers who flout Employment Law rules will be barred from hiring workers from abroad. Introduce a Race Equality Act to enshrine in law the right to equal pay ethnic minorities, and give disabled people the right to equal pay.
  • Non-domiciles – Abolish non-dom status and increase the rate of the stamp duty surcharge paid by non-UK residents by 1%.
  • Trusts and IHT – End the use of offshore trusts to avoid inheritance tax.
  • Gender – Reform gender recognition law to a new process.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

  • Property & Planning – Give local authorities new powers to control second homes and short-term lets by allowing them to increase council tax by up to 500% where homes are being bought as second homes and a stamp duty surcharge on overseas residents purchasing such properties. Abolish residential leaseholds and cap ground rents to a nominal fee.
  • Planning – Introduce a new planning class for second homes. Introduce ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ planning permission for developers who refuse to build.
  • Landlord & Tenant – Ban no-fault evictions, make three-year tenancies the default, and create a national register of licensed landlords. Introduce a new Rent to Own model for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.
  • Employment – Revamp law relating to parents including doubling Statutory Maternity and Shared Parental Pay to £350 a week, increasing pay for paternity leave to 90% of earnings, and paid neonatal care leave.
  • Family Law – Reform Child Maintenance Service including removing the Collect and Pay charge for receiving parents. Incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law.
  • Environment – Introduce a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organization guidelines.
  • Legal Aid – Establish a new right to legal assistance through the Legal Aid system .
  • Money Laundering – Close the loopholes in economic crime legislation regarding ‘dirty cash’.