Conservative party conference announcements - 2% council tax cap, £140 m nursing fund, crackdown on taxpayer-funded union staff, new powers to stop travellers
Here are some of the announcements that have emerged so far at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham:
- Provide £270 million funding so that councils can freeze council tax for a third consecutive year. This would be a 2.5 per cent real terms cut in 2013-13, and an 11 per cent cut over three years. Require a referendum for any council planing an increase above two per cent in 2013-14.
- Cap rail fares at RPI+1 per cent in 2013 and 2014, costing £300 million over the next two financial years (2013-14 and 2014-15).
- Give councils new powers to issue "temporary stop notices" backed by unlimited fines to stop unauthorised traveller/caravan developments in their tracks. This is basically aimed at stopping travellers from moving on to sites at weekends or bank holidays without planning permission. Simply moving a caravan on to a site could be considered development (as it would mean using land for residential purposes without consent). This involves revoking existing legislation which apparently limits the ability of councils to use stop notices against caravans.
- Banking fines, including the Barclays LIBOR fine, will be spent on the armed forces, veterans and families. Currently the cash goes back into the banking industry, apparently. This is expected to raise £35 million this year.
- Calling on employers to give staff who are members of the armed forces reserves to give them ten days paid leave a year. However, this will not be compulsory. Reservists working as central government civil servants will be given the leave.
- An extra £5 million for Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.
- A £140 million Nursing Excellence fund. £100 million for technology "such as digital pens, mobile devices" etc, and £40 million for "leadership development."
- A £15 million radiotherapy innovation fund to provide state-of-the-art equipment at radiotherapy centres.
- Clamping down on public sector staff who carry out union activities while they are paid by the taxpayer. No civil servant will be allowed to spend more than half their time on union work (apparently 250 civil servants currently are full-time union officials whose salaries are paid by the taxpayer).
- Increasing the "service premium" - extra school funding for the pupils - from £250 per pupil to £300 per pupil.
- Introducing a high street discount of "Privilege" card for serving armed forces personnel and veterans, and their spouses, partners and children.