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Tory-LibDem coalition agreement:
full programme for government

20 May 2010

The UK government has today published its full programme for government. This expands on the original publication on 12 May (see P&I Briefing 231 UK Government Coalition Agreement PDFpdf and summary here) although it is still full of vague commitments, reviews and commissions. There are a few opt-outs for Lib-Dem MPs, but the parliamentary arithmetic means that the Tory plans on these issues should go through.  

Again much in this agreement applies only to England, but these are some of the headlines that will impact on UNISON members in Scotland.

  • Cutting ‘red tape’ through ‘one in one out’ rules and sunset clauses. Inspections to be targeted and greater co-regulation. The real concern here is the downgrading of safety legislation and inspections.
  • At least the part-privatisation of Royal mail.
  • Review all employment laws to ‘maximise flexibility’ providing a ‘competitive environment’. This is self evidently a move to weaken employment protection and move to a US style de-regulated labour market.
  • Review alcohol taxation. This may impact on the proposals in the Scottish Parliament Bill on minimum pricing.
  • Renew Trident.
  • No more detail on public sector pay constraint and the review of pensions.
  • £6bn additional cuts this year. Deficit reduction through cuts not taxation.
  • Cut Child Trust Fund and tax credits for undefined high earners. This reflects an approach of targeted support rather than universalism. The concern is that the aim is to make benefits and public services a safety net for the disadvantaged, by undermining broader public support.
  • Continue public sector investment in clean coal technology. Plus smart metering and feed-in tariffs. Reviewing the role of Ofgem and the energy market. Nuclear power stations to go ahead.
  • Consult ‘business’ (not the workers) on extending the right to request flexible working. No prizes for guessing what ‘business’ will say.
  • Promote equal pay and unspecified measures to end discrimination in the workplace.
  • Fair pay review to implement the ’20 times’ pay multiple - in the public sector only.
  • Range of euro-sceptic provisions to limit new powers for the EU.
  • Maintains the goal of ending child poverty by 2020, but no indication of measures.
  • Detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding. Watch out for an attack on union political funds, whilst leaving rich Tory donors alone.
  • New protections for whistleblowers, but only in the public sector.
  • Annual cap on non-EU immigration. End detention of children for immigration purposes.
  • Honour the commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid.
  • Single welfare to work programme. Receipt of benefits conditional on willingness to work.
  • Support the National Minimum Wage but no detail on up-rating it.
  • Restore the earnings link for the state pension. Simplify occupational pension regulations. We should be awake to efforts to weaken the rights of pension fund members.
  • A political reform programme for Westminster. Implement Calman and a commission of the ‘West Lothian’ question.
  • Increase personal allowances. NI increase kept for workers but not the bosses. Transferable tax allowances for married couples.

The full programme can be downloaded here.

For a broader UNISON commentary on the coalition agreement there is an article in the Guardian of 18 May 2010 by General Secretary, Dave Prentis.

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