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#GE2015: Most popular policies from Vote for Policies (Part one)

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On Wednesday at 1800 we will publish the People’s Manifesto 2015. This will be based on the hundreds of thousands of you who have used the Vote for Policies survey to find which party’s policies most aligns your views and beliefs. To see 2010’s People’s Manifesto click here.

This is the state of play as of midday on Friday. Today we deal with the top five policy areas of Health/NHS, Education, Economy, Welfare and Immigration. Tomorrow we’ll look at the next five policy areas of Environment, Crime, Democracy, Europe and Foreign Policy/Defence.

Health/NHS, Labour

1. Invest an extra £2.5 billion to recruit 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses and 3,000 more midwives.

2. Guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within one week.

3. Join up services from home to hospital, with a single point of contact for all who need it.

4. Give mental health the same priority as physical health, with a new right to access talking therapies.

5. Repeal the Government’s privatisation plans, cap profits and put the right values back at the heart of the NHS.

6. End time limited 15 minute social care visits and recruit 5,000 new home­care workers to support people in their home.

Education, Liberal Democrats

1. Invest every penny we can in education from cradle to college – nursery, school, apprenticeships and college – so all our children get the chance to live out their full potential.

2. Aim to make 20 hours of free childcare a week available for all parents with children aged from 2 to 4, and all working parents from the end of paid maternity leave (9 months) to 2 years by 2020.

3. Introduce a Parent Guarantee that all teachers in state funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards Qualified Teacher Status and a minimum curriculum entitlement with a slimmed down core national curriculum, which will be taught in all state funded schools. This will include a ‘curriculum for life’ including financial literacy, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, citizenship and age appropriate sex and relationship education.

4. Rule out profit­making schools, and only fund new mainstream schools in areas where school places are needed.

5. Extend free school meals to all children in primary education, as resources allow and after a full evaluation of free meals for infants, while ensuring that school food standards apply to all schools, including academies.

6. A two thirds discount bus pass for young people 16­21 so they can afford to get to college and work.

7. Develop the skilled workforce needed to support growth with major expansions of high-quality and advanced apprenticeships, offering vocational education on par with academic qualification backed up with new sector led National Colleges.

8. Expect all universities to support the national goal of widening participation across the sector. This will include running summer schools and setting up mentoring programmes between students/alumni and school pupils.

Economy, Labour

1. Cut the deficit every year and balance the books as soon as possible in the next Parliament.

2. Reverse the 50p tax cut so that the top one per cent pay a little more to help get the deficit down.

3. Not increase the basic or higher rates of Income Tax, National Insurance or VAT.

4. Cut and then freeze business rates and maintain the most competitive corporate tax rates in the G7.

5. Abolish non domicile status.

6. Increase the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019 and introduce Make Work Pay contracts to provide tax rebates to firms becoming Living Wage employers.

7. Ban exploitative zero hours contracts.

8. Guarantee an apprenticeship for every school leaver who attains the grades and require any firm that gets a large government contract to offer apprenticeships.

Welfare, Labour

1. Extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents of three and four year-olds, and ensure all primary schools guarantee access to wraparound childcare from 8am to 6pm.

2. Double paternity leave from two to four weeks and increase paternity pay by more than £100 a week.

3. Ensure at least 200,000 new homes a year are built by 2020, with first priority for local first time buyers.

4. Provide security for renters by guaranteeing three-year tenancies with a ceiling on excessive rent rises.

5. Introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee, paid for by a Bank Bonus Tax.

6. Abolish the Bedroom Tax.

7. Make it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting workers.

Immigration, Labour

1. Recruit an additional 1,000 borders staff, paid for by a small charge on nonvisual visitors to the UK.

2. Introduce stronger controls to prevent those who have committed serious crimes coming to Britain, and to deport those who commit crimes while they are here.

3. Introduce full exit checks, so that we can count people in and out of the country.

4. Tighten the system to prevent abuse [of short­term student visitor visas], whilst welcoming overseas university students who bring billions into Britain.

5. Keep the cap on workers from outside the EU.

6. Introduce a new law to stop employers undercutting wages by exploiting workers.

7. Ban recruitment agencies from hiring only from overseas and crack down on rogue agencies by extending the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority where there is evidence of abuse.

8. Ensure migrants will not be able to claim benefits until they have lived here for at least two years.

You can still see which party’s policies most matches your own views by using the Vote for Policies survey here, or see your local Vote for Policies results here.

To see the how parties are doing by policy across the country take a look here.

To see the newly released Guide to Sustainable Democracy, click here.

Photo: Martin Bamford via Flickr

Further reading:

General election: attention given to sustainability in campaigns criticised

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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