Cheaper flights or higher taxes? How the political parties might hit your hols.
How will your vote affect your holiday and travel plans?
The General Election on May 7 is just days away, but what do the main political parties have on offer for hard-pressed Brits looking to grab a few days holiday this summer? Here we look at what the manifestos might mean for UK holidaymakers.
We’ll also tell you how to place your vote if you’re on holiday, along with a host of other tips to help ensure post-election Britain doesn’t rain on your holiday plans. You can even have your say in our pre-election vote…
With the polls indicating no party will poll an overall majority, it’s important to look at what ‘smaller’ parties are planning for you and your holiday plans over the coming years. It’s likely that day-to-day deals brokered with the likes of Ukip, Greens and the SNP will have a direct impact on your travel plans.
Here’s what they do and don’t say about their plans for the ordinary holidaymaker…
Here’s what can be extracted from the Tory Party manifesto…
Fuel Duty: No direct reference to Fuel Duty, but with a track record of freezing rises in duty, it’s unlikely the Tories would increase this any time soon.
Airport capacity: Disappointingly, the Conservatives take a non-committal stance on the future of increased airport capacity in the South East. The manifesto tells us the Party would: ‘respond to the Airports Commission’s final report’. A clear and decisive position would be helpful for voters here.
Air Passenger Duty:
Air Passenger Duty: No direct mention of this in the manifesto, but the Party has previously pledged to cut the tax on long-haul flights in 2016 – providing they’re still in a position to do so.
Roads: Getting to the airport should become easier under a Tory administration, with £15bn investment promised for roads – with 6bn earmarked for highways in the North.
Other: Raising the personal allowance to £12,500 and increasing the 40p tax threshold to £50,000 will put extra cash in pockets, while bumping the inheritance tax threshold to £1m for married couples and civil partners will also help.
Verdict: While it’s short on details and certainly won’t get you rushing to book an extra holiday this summer, it seems the Conservatives won’t be targeting air travel as a cash cow.
Here’s what the Labour manifesto and senior figures say about travel related policy…
Fuel Duty: No mention is made in the manifesto, but the Party’s energy chief, Caroline Flint, said a future Labour administration would consider increasing fuel duty ‘in line’ with inflation. Using the motorist as a ‘tax cow’ will deplete family budgets and hit our ability to spend spare cash on holidays.
Airport capacity: Regarding a decision on new runway capacity for Gatwick or Heathrow, Labour’s manifesto is more dynamic in its response; promising a ‘swift’ decision following publication of Sir Howard Davies’ final report. However, the manifesto goes on to say that any decision would reflect ‘the need for growth and the environmental impact’.
Air Passenger Duty:
Air Passenger Duty: Although not mentioned in the manifesto, senior MP Harriet Harman has refused to rule out increasing Air Passenger Duty.
Other: Labour has pledged to create a ‘fairer’ tax system for those on middle and lower incomes by introducing a lower 10p starting rate for tax. However, this will be financed by ending the Conservatives’ Marriage Tax Allowance.
Verdict: On balance, the Labour Party appears to be less well-disposed to those wishing to spend cash on a well-deserved break. It’s also possible that ‘hung Parliament’ bedfellows – such as the SNP, who’d be looking for additional cash to be diverted North of the border – will result in more pain for English air travellers.
As the Coalition partners try to step from the Conservatives’ shadow, here’s what the Lib Dems have to offer for holidaymakers…
Fuel Duty: Not mentioned, but expect a less than sympathetic ride for drivers – resulting in reduced spending power for luxuries such as holidays.
Airport capacity: The party manifesto makes unpleasant reading for anyone who’s been stuck in peak-time delays at Gatwick or Heathrow Airport. The Lib Dems aren’t fans of air transport, with the manifesto stating: ‘We remain opposed to any expansion of Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick and any new airport in the Thames Estuary, because of local issues of air and noise pollution. We will ensure no net increase in runways across the UK.’ At least the Lib Dems are clear on the subject.
Air Passenger Duty:
Air Passenger Duty: It seems the Lib Dems still view this as a Green tax, so don’t expect any giveaways here. However, the party supports devolving control of the duty to Scotland and Wales, so English holidaymakers could be left paying when others members of the Union are spared. The party says: ‘Aviation as a whole enjoys significant tax exemptions, including paying no VAT or fuel duty.’
Other: Lib Dems have said they’ll increase the personal tax allowance to at least £12,500, while the wealthy will be hit with a ‘mansion tax’ payable on houses worth more than £2m.
Verdict: Clearly not the choice for those who enjoy their holidays and believe a few weeks on a beach shouldn’t be demonised.
After a previous manifesto of self-confessed ‘drivel’, Ukip has delivered a far more considered and coherent document plotting their post-May 7 plans. Here’s how the party views the travel industry.
Fuel duty: While there’s no direct mention of fuel duty, the Ukip manifesto says: ‘Motorists are already taxed highly enough through fuel and vehicle taxes.’ This appears to be a clear indication it won’t be making the situation worse by hiking fuel duty.
Airport capacity: Ukip – like the Tories and Labour – are waiting for the Davies Commission into airport capacity and connectivity in the UK to be published later this year before taking a decision on what’s best for the UK. It does, however, support the re-opening of Manston Airport in Kent. This should at least suggest Ukip supports a sensible wider policy for air travel.
Air Passenger Duty:
Air Passenger Duty: No specific mention of APD, but Nigel Farage has previously spoken of his dislike for it, so don’t expect any hikes here.
Other: Anyone heading to airports in the South East might well appreciate Ukip’s pledge to remove road tolls where possible. Making the Dartford Crossing free could save many returning home from hols to a big fine because of the confusing changes to how it’s paid. Ukip also favours returning more cash to householders by scrapping Green levies and by withdrawing from the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme. We could also look forward to St George’s Day becoming a bank holiday in England and St David’s Day a bank holiday in Wales.
Verdict: You might not agree with some of Ukip’s manifesto, but any role they play in Government could be beneficial for holidaymakers.
While this might be a perfect fit for a stockbroker-parent-financed hippy-chick living in a smart area of Brighton, It’s possibly time to look away if you’re a hard-pressed worker with an address in the real world who values their two weeks R&R on a sun-drenched Mediterranean beach.
Fuel Duty: The Green Party would like to ‘reintroduce the fuel duty escalator, raising £2.2billion in 2015 and an additional £2.2billion in each successive year through the Parliament’. Yes – that £2.2billion will be coming from your disposable income.
Aviation fuel duty:
Aviation fuel duty: The Green Party manifesto states it would: ‘Put aviation on a level playing field with other modes of transport by making it subject to fuel duty and VAT, raising £16 billion in a full year. If outdated international law makes this impossible, introduce a flight tax dependent on distance and aircraft type that has the same overall economic effect’. The result of this would be huge price rises for air travellers.
Airport capacity: The Green Party has confirmed it does not back expansion at Gatwick or Heathrow. If elected – or called upon to support another party – it would strive to ‘stop airport expansion’ and ensure no new runways are built.
Airport Passenger Duty:
Airport Passenger Duty: No direct mention in the manifesto, but we’d guess there’ll be little cheer here from the Greens in this department.
Other: The Green Party has a goal of ensuring global temperatures don’t rise by more than 2C. It hopes to achieve this is by cutting air travel through wider use of trains, ferries and buses for domestic and European trips.
Verdict: The Green Party is trying to defend the environment, but air travel is essential for leisure and business – and the economies of developing countries. Green taxes and policies, such as those outlined here could result in air travel reserved for the wealthy. New techonology and sensible taxes will enable the public to travel and business thrive, while also defending the environment.
It’s the party that’s most likely to put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons at Westminster, but what impact would SNP success have on our overseas sojourns in the sun?
Fuel Duty: If you live in a rural area of Scotland then expect some relief on fuel duty. There’s no word in the manifesto about the rest of the UK.
Airport capacity: There’s no word from the SNP on where they’d like to see additional runway capacity, but it would appear unlikely the party would have an overwhelming interest in adding runways at any English airport.
Air Passenger Duty:
Air Passenger Duty: The SNP says it will ‘press for the early devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) so we can use this new power to encourage more direct flights to Scotland, with a reduction of 50 per cent and longer-term plans to abolish APD completely.’ This could result in a £200million windfall for the Scots as travellers looking for big savings swap Northern airports for Glasgow and Edinburgh – with Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds-Bradford suffering huge losses. The Smith Commission set up by David Cameron has recommended that APD should be devolved so expect it to happen. However, this could result in the wider UK government being forced to reduce the tax for some English airports in the North.
Other: The SNP also says: ‘For our planet – we will use our influence at Westminster to ensure the UK matches, and supports, Scotland’s ambitious commitments to carbon reduction.’ Translated into reality, we’d expect this to make air travel more expensive in the event of any deal with Labour.
Verdict: The SNP is likely to bring benefits for air travellers who live in Scotland, but it’s unlikely that the rest of the Union would benefit greatly.
See what the DUP is offering in its Westminster manifesto…
Airport capacity: The party’s Westminster manifesto reveals the DUP supports airport expansion in Southern England and says: ‘We believe that Heathrow is the best solution, but we will support the recommendations of the Airport Commission.’
Air Passenger Duty:
Air Passenger Duty: The DUP says that APD has a disproportionate impact on the regions farthest from the most prosperous South East and as such demands that it should be completely abolished across the entire UK. The party has previously secured the devolution of Air Passenger Duty for long-haul flights from Northern Ireland.
Other: The DUP will support proposals to raise the personal allowance to at least £12,500 by the end of the next parliamentary term.
Verdict: The DUP’s positive stance on airport expansion is a plus for air travellers.
Like the DUP and other smaller parties, votes from the likes of Plaid Cymru could be vital in a hung Parliament. Find out which way it would veer on travel issues here.
Fuel Duty: Plaid will ‘create a fuel duty regulator to prevent unpredictable rises in fuel charges and push for rural fuel price reductions’.
Airport capacity: The party says: ‘We will provide better roads, railways, airports, bridges and ports.’ The party has also confirmed it will oppose plans for a new airport in East London.
Air Passenger Duty:
Air Passenger Duty: Plaid looks after those travelling from Welsh airports by saying: ‘We will support the transfer of Air Passenger Duty to the Welsh Government and Cardiff Airport’s improved freight and passenger development strategy.’
Verdict: Welsh air passengers will benefit from these changes, but opposition to airport expansion in the South East of England will not be so helpful for others in densely populated areas.
The travel trade association has also created its own manifesto. Here’s what it says on the points we’ve been looking at…
Airport capacity: Act urgently to increase airport capacity once the Airports Commission completes its work and delivers recommendations.
Air Passenger Duty:
Air Passenger Duty: Further reform and reduce Air Passenger Duty to ensure the UK is a more competitive place to invest in, trade with, and visit.
Verdict: It’s what the UK needs to provide a welcome boost to hard-pressed Brits who want to grab some time away. Sadly, most parties seem reluctant to commit to more airport capacity and bringing APD into line with the rest of Europe.
You’ve read the manifestos, so as a holidaymaker, who would you vote for? Make your vote now…
Shall I buy my currency before or after the General Election?
Win or lose… buy your holiday currency before or after GE 2015?
The pound has been strong against the euro this year, with markets looking at the UK being a safe destination for cash. However, uncertainty is not what the money men like, so an unpredictable General Election result could see the pound’s value plummet.
What’s the deal: Unless you’ve had your head inserted into a bucket of fast-setting cement for the past few months, you’ll be aware that most commentators are predicting we’re heading for a hung Parliament with parties scrabbling around for support from smaller parties who, in turn, will be looking to fill their own pockets in return for helping whoever is leading the fragile administration.
So, why will this hurt the pound: If Ukip showed well, then markets would get worries about the anti-Euro deals that it could scoop by supporting the Tories, while a SNP-backed Labour admin would also signal chaos in the markets. However, if Labour or the Conservatives managed to grab a majority, the markets would see this as good and the pound would likely soar.
Okay – stop! Shall I buy before or after the General Election: Best advice is hedge your bets and buy half now and half after… leaving you pretty much covered. If you fancy a bet, then check the opinion polls and make your own decision.
The rise and rise of Air Passenger Duty
Do we really need to worry about what the politicos have got in store for our holidays? Just take a look at how travellers have been hit by Air Passenger Duty to answer that very question…
Why APD needs to be slashed
Source: ABTA and Telegraph.co.uk
Verdict: It seems few if any parties are serious about getting rid of this tax for the entire British population. It’s clear that air travellers are being abused and used as a cash cow to fund other giveaways.
Help! I am away on May 7, but still want to vote
Don’t lose your vote just because you’re on holiday or out of the country on business
Don’t panic… just yet. You can register to place your vote using the following method – but don’t hang around, the clock is counting down for those planning to swap polls for pools. Here’s what you need to do.
Apply to vote by proxy: Act now, the deadline is just days away
Here’s your easy-to-follow guide to voting while on holiday…
What it is it:
What it is it: This where you can ask someone else to place your vote for you if you’re unable to do so – if you are lying on a beach sipping cocktails, for instance.
Who can request one:
Who can request one: Anyone. However, the person you choose to vote for you must be 18+.
Are you eligible to apply for a proxy vote:
Are you eligible to apply for a proxy vote: The way we register to vote in England, Scotland and Wales changed last year, so if you want to vote by proxy you must be registered under the new system. You can no longer register to vote in the elections on May 7. The deadline for registration was Monday 20 April.
How to request a proxy vote:
How to request a proxy vote: Provided you’re registered, simply click on the following link, download and complete all sections. This is for a one-off request for a single election.