Election implications for the public and voluntary sectors

  • Organisations are looking to the future as the dust settles on the general election
  • Some of the Conservatives’ pledges affecting the public and voluntary sectors - from Right to Buy to paid volunteering leave – will now come under closer scrutiny
  • Zurich Municipal examines what the election could mean for schools, charities, registered providers, local authorities and the NHS

The dust has settled on a general election that produced a result few expected.

The Conservatives’ success and the prospect of continued stability with economic plans was greeted favourably by the financial markets, with the FTSE rising 119 points within a few hours of the result becoming clear, and the pound rising against the euro and dollar.

But what does this continuity of governance mean for organisations in the public and voluntary sectors? Here, we take a look at some of the key promises the Conservatives made during the election campaign.

Local government

Proposals to reward councils for attracting and retaining business featured prominently in the Conservatives’ election manifesto.

Plans for councils to retain 100% of growth in business rates will be tested in pilot schemes in Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire East. Councils will also be allowed to keep a higher proportion of their business rates revenue.

Further devolved powers, affecting economic development, transport and social care, have been promised for cities with elected mayors.

Education

The Conservatives say every failing secondary school will become an academy, and schools judged by Ofsted to be ‘requiring improvement’ will be taken over by leading head teachers Teachers will also be given training to tackle serious behaviour issues and low-level disruption.

The free schools programme will continue, and unqualified teachers will be allowed to stay in the classroom.

A further 17,500 maths and physics teachers will be trained over the next five years and working parents of three and four-year-olds will be entitled to 30 hours’ free childcare from 2017.

Health

The Conservatives have pledged an extra £8 billion above inflation by 2020, to support the NHS’s five-year action plan, and ensure seven-day access to GP appointments and some hospital services.

Additional pledges focused on transparency and standards, for example, ensuring all hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries are rated by the Care Quality Commission, and that patients can access detailed information about their hospital’s safety record.

The Conservatives’ electoral success also means the Health and Social Care Act, which came into force in 2013, is here to stay. A Department of Health review of the act last year said some of its provisions which are yet to be implemented – such as the creation of a special administration regime for companies providing health services – could be revisited during the next parliament.

Housing

One of the most eye-catching proposals in the Conservatives’ manifesto was the planned extension of the Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million housing association tenants. David Cameron said the move would realise his “dream” of a property-owning democracy.

While this looks like good news for those wanting to take the first step onto the property ladder, and could signal shorter housing waiting lists, critics have suggested registered providers could suffer financially if they are forced to sell properties, and some reports claim the move could be subject to a legal challenge.

However, the Conservatives also pledged to “fund the replacement of properties sold under the extended Right to Buy by requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently.”

Other pledges included 200,000 new homes exclusively for first-time buyers and a residency requirement that means EU migrants cannot be considered for a council house until they have lived in an area for four years.

Charities

One of the Conservatives’ most significant commitments will entitle people working for large companies or the public sector to three days’ paid volunteering leave.

The Conservatives also pledged to increase the number of National Citizen Service cadet units in schools, and guarantee a place for every teenager who wants one.

The Conservative Manifesto also hints at an expansion of the Work Programme – the welfare-to-work programme introduced in 2011 – saying the party will “examine ways to build on this type of innovative approach in the future.”

What’s next?

Many of the Conservatives’ election promises have been put forward in Bills handed down in the Queen Speech last week. The debate will take shape in the weeks and months ahead as these Bills make their way through Parliament – Zurich Municipal will track policy developments and keep you informed.