The party manifestos: an intergenerational audit

With election day looming, Angus Hanton, co-founder of IF, assesses the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem party manifestos to check their intergenerational credentials

Whilst the Intergenerational Foundation is strictly non-party-political, this general election is more focused on issues of intergenerational fairness than any previous one.

All parties have acknowledged issues of intergenerational fairness and have adopted the language of fairness between generations. Areas such as pensions, the environment, taxation, social care costs and university tuition fees are all couched in terms of fairness between young and old.

Here we spotlight some relevant quotes, look at some keyword counts and compare the different parties’ positions on specific areas where there are concerns of fairness to younger generations.

1. Keyword indicators

How often a particular word is mentioned in each party’s manifesto

Party               CON    LAB    LIB DEM


Generations    25        2          3

Sustainable     19        14        21

Children           53        38        54

Housing           29        23        23

Interestingly some terms that used to dominate manifestos have almost dropped out of circulation completely this time round. Labour has made no mention of the words “unemployment” or “inflation” and the Conservatives make only a couple of passing references to these issues.

2. Intergenerational quotes

They talk the talk…


“Solidarity which binds generations is under strain… we will restore the contract between the generations…”


“Building a clean economy is the most important thing we must do for our children, grandchildren and future generations.”

Lib Dems:

“[We will] conduct a full scale review into the burden of taxation and spending between generations to… promote fairness between generations.”

3. Tuition fees

Conservatives – no change

Labour – abolish them asap

Lib Dems – reinstate maintenance grants and wholesale review of university financing

4. Votes at 16

Conservatives – no change

Labour – introduce voting at 16

Lib Dems – introduce voting at 16

5. Young people’s travel

Conservatives – no change in charges, but more investment in transport

Labour – no change in charges, but more investment in integrated transport

Lib Dems – introduce a two-thirds-off card for 16–21 year olds

6. Triple lock increases in the state pension

Conservatives – replace with a double lock (higher of wage increases or RPI)

Labour – maintain triple lock along with winter fuel allowance

Lib Dems – maintain triple lock and review tax relief on pensions

7. Housing benefit for 18–21 year olds

Conservatives – no change

Labour – reinstate it

Lib Dems – reinstate it

8. Downsizing (an increasing issue!)

Conservatives – build 250,000 new homes each year

Labour – increase options for downsizers in the private sector

Lib Dems – incentivise local councils to promote downsizing by council tenants

9. Funding social care

Conservatives – make older people pay more from their own resources so that younger people don’t have to pay for it, but allow older people to keep £100,000

Labour – continue government provision but funding to be by wealth tax, employer care tax or a “social care levy” on employees

Lib Dems – keep offering it from government but funding through a 1p increase in income tax and maybe later by an increase in National Insurance charges

10. Air quality

Conservatives – “action” against poor air quality in cities

Labour – meet legal obligations on air quality, and retrofit diesel buses to Euro6 standard and limit airport expansion

Lib Dems – create an air quality plan to prevent 40,000 deaths each year

11. Tenants

Conservatives – more security for good tenants and promote longer tenancies

Labour – introduce three-year, more secure tenancies and cap rent increases

Lib Dems – introduce three-year, stable tenancies

12. National debt

Conservatives – eliminate deficit (new borrowing) by 2025

Labour – reduce the national debt during the next parliament (over 5 years)

Lib Dems – new borrowing should be only for investment

13. Retirement age

Conservatives – continue to increase it with life expectancy increases

Labour – resist increases but look at a variable age to take account of how much people have put in and how hard their working life has been

Lib Dems – no mention at all

14. Unpaid internships

Conservatives – no mention

Labour – ban them

Lib Dems – discourage them through a “good employer” kitemark

Most surprising words

Conservative – “one-in-two-out rule” (about regulation)

Labour – “first dibs” (for local people about new homes)

Lib Dems – “ban neonicotinoids” (to protect bees)