Important information - the value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest.

With less than three weeks to go until the General Election, the politicians have set out their stall this week. The publication of the party manifestos is a big moment in any election because it’s when those seeking your vote have to come off the fence. They’re forced to put their plans on the table.

The manifestos are big documents - 80 pages from the Conservatives, more than 130 from Labour. They cover all the important policies - from the economy and tax to defence, education, the NHS and immigration. They are a detailed snapshot of the services the politicians hope to deliver and how they intend to make us pay for them.

Realistically, there are only two likely outcomes when we wake up on 5 July. Either Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer will be Prime Minister. So, we are going to focus on the Labour and Conservative manifestos. And we’re going to concentrate on the measures that will directly affect our personal and household finances.

Where the other parties have something interesting to add to the debate, we’ll look at their proposals too.

ECONOMY

Rishi Sunak called the election on the back of a better-than-expected gross domestic (GDP) figure for April, although this week it was announced that growth had stalled in May. Economic growth underpins the tax revenues that pay for public services. It is, therefore, key.

Conservative: it’s hard to make big economic claims when you’ve been in power for 14 years. But the Tories have committed to keeping public sector borrowing below 3% of GDP by the end of the next parliament in 2029-30. They promise national broadband coverage by 2030. There’s a pledge to speed up infrastructure delivery. And there will be no increase in corporation tax.

Labour: a line is being drawn under Labour’s own past by making wealth creation the ‘number one priority’. A focus on growth and stability is branded ‘secure-onomics’. A £1.2bn windfall tax on oil and gas companies will part fund Great British Energy, a publicly owned clean power company. A National Wealth Fund, with £7.3bn of capital will focus on clean energy investments. Corporation tax will be capped at the current 25% through the next five years. Rail will be progressively brought into public ownership as contracts expire.

Best of the rest: at the heart of the Lib Dems pitch is rebuilding our relationship with the EU. There is a focus on green infrastructure and a promise to get national debt falling as a proportion of the economy. The Greens promise £40bn a year of green investment, a carbon tax to accelerate the green transition and nationalisation of rail, water and five big energy companies.

TAX

Anyone can make big spending promises. The trick is working out how to pay for them. Personal tax has emerged as a big dividing line between the two main parties. The Conservatives promise cuts for all worth up to £17bn; Labour is hoping that £8.6bn of targeted tax hikes will cover its spending needs.

Conservative: National Insurance (NI) will be cut again by 2 percentage points to 6%, half the level at the start of the year. The self-employed will see Class 4 NI abolished. The long-term plan is to end National Insurance altogether. Income Tax and VAT will not rise, although the freezing of tax thresholds until 2028 will drag more people into higher bands. There will be no increase in Capital Gains Tax but there was nothing in the Tory manifesto for those hoping for good news on Inheritance Tax. Child benefit will be assessed at the household level with no reduction for couples earning up to £120,000.

Labour: Labour’s manifesto offers targeted tax hikes, aimed squarely at wealthier voters. The main measure is the closing of non-dom tax loopholes, to raise £5.2bn a year. VAT and business rates will be applied to private schools, raising a further £1.5bn a year. Private equity bosses stand to lose their ‘carried interest’ loophole, bringing in a further £565m a year. Labour has ruled out income tax, National Insurance and VAT hikes but has left its options open on CGT and pension tax relief.

Best of the rest: small state tax-cutters will find the reddest meat in Nigel Farage’s Reform manifesto. He has promised a £20,000 income tax threshold, no higher rate tax under £70,000, lower fuel duty and zero stamp duty on house purchases under £750,000. Inheritance tax will be cut to 20% and only applied to estates above £2m. The Greens swing the other way, with a 1% wealth tax on assets above £10m. They would align CGT rates with income tax and get rid of the upper earnings limit that restricts the NI paid by higher earners. Outside of England, the SNP has called for greater tax-setting powers in Scotland and Plaid Cymru wants at least the same tax-setting powers that Scotland has. 

PENSIONS

Older people are more likely to vote, and they are more likely to vote Conservative. Unsurprisingly this has a big influence on the main parties’ approach to pensions policy.

Conservative: The Triple Lock will be safe under a Conservative government. That means the state pension will continue to rise in line with the highest of prices, earnings and 2.5%. And because the state pension is fast catching up with the threshold for paying income tax, the Tories have now introduced a quadruple lock. This means the tax-free personal allowance will from next year also rise in line with the highest of earnings, prices and 2.5% for pensioners. Tax relief on pension contributions will continue at a saver’s marginal income tax rate. The 25% tax-free lump sum is safe. So too are winter fuel payments, free prescriptions and TV licences.

Labour: Labour has fallen into line with the government on the triple lock. It too will increase the state pension by the highest of inflation, average earnings and 2.5%. Rather than make firm commitments, Labour has promised to review the whole pensions landscape, looking at what further steps are needed to improve pension outcomes.

Best of the rest: the Lib Dems are with the two main parties on the triple lock, as are both the SNP and Plaid Cymru. In addition, the Lib Dems have vowed to make sure older women are treated fairly and compensated for the way many were penalised by the equalisation of the pension age for men and women. The SNP have stated opposition to any further increases in state pension age. Reform says the pension system is ‘riddled with complexity, huge cost and poor returns’ and looks to Australia for a better model.

PROPERTY

Beyond tax and pensions, nothing is guaranteed to get voters more exercised than the housing market. All the main parties have something to say on property.

Conservative: With only 2.5 million homes built since 2010, the pledge to build 1.6 million in the next parliament looks ambitious. A quicker fix is to make it easier to get on the housing ladder so the threshold for first-time buyer stamp duty is to be made permanent at £425,000, alongside a souped-up Help to Buy scheme. Leaseholders will see ground rents capped at £250, with a view to reducing them to peppercorn over time.

Labour: the 1.5 million home pledge from Labour is in line with the Conservative aspiration. There are promises to protect the green belt while first-time buyers struggling to raise a deposit will benefit from a mortgage guarantee scheme. The stamp duty surcharge for non-UK residents will be increased.

Best of the rest: the Lib Dems have sought to outbuild both the Tories and Labour with 380,000 new homes a year, including 150,000 social homes via 10 new garden cities. They will abolish residential leaseholds and also cap ground rents at a nominal level. Reform is looking to reverse the 2019 tax changes that made buy to let less attractive to landlords and will fast track planning for development of brownfield sites.

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Important information - investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. Eligibility to invest in a SIPP or ISA and tax treatment depends on personal circumstances and all tax rules may change in the future. Withdrawals from a SIPP will not normally be possible until you reach age 55 (57 from 2028). This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice.

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