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Conservatives' manifesto: What HR needs to know

The Conservatives have promised to extend free childcare and to upskill young people

The Conservatives have announced their manifesto ahead of the general election (4 July). It highlighted childcare, skills, national insurance, pensions and welfare.


The party would extend the 30 hours of free childcare a week available to eligible working parents of three- and four-year-olds to include two-year-olds, by 2025. This benefit would be available for parents with children from nine months old to when they start school, and would aim to save families around £6,900 per year.

This is an increase on the 15 hours of free childcare per week for working parents of two-years-olds, which has been available from 1 April 2024.

The party has pledged that it would also move from an individual to a household child benefits system, which would raise the salary threshold for child benefits to £120,000. The manifesto stated that this would support single-parent families and benefit more than 700,000 households.

Single-parent families are in need of increased government support, explained Victoria Benson, chief executive of Gingerbread, a charity that supports single parents.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "We welcome the commitment to addressing the unfairness inherent in the child benefit system. We need to see the needs of single-parent families recognised and addressed by our political parties and also by employers."

However, the changes would not benefit working-parent families on low incomes, explained Simon Kelleher, head of policy and influencing at the charity Working Families. 

Read more: Free childcare chaos leaves working parents unsupported

He told HR magazine: “Although we broadly welcome the pledges on childcare and child benefit, they do little to address the challenges facing working parents and carers, especially those on lower incomes. The pledge to change the child benefit repayment threshold will only benefit a minority of wealthy households.”

Kelleher added that the party could have added further protections for working parents through reformed parental leave, improved support for carers and increased access to justice through employment law. 


The Conservative manifesto pledged to give young people the skills and opportunities “they deserve”. The party would do this by introducing mandatory national service for all school leavers at 18, who could choose between a placement in the military or civic service.

Andrew Willis, associate director of legal at the law services firm Croner, commented that the proposal did not specify the impact on employers.

He said: “What is not clear is how this would work for the thousands of young people who have jobs or are completing apprenticeships. It’s not physically possible to be in two places at once, so would the national service requirement apply to anyone with a job or an apprenticeship?

“One thing is clear: we need a lot more information about the practicalities of how such a scheme will work in practice.”

Moreover, the Conservatives plan to fund 100,000 new “high-quality” apprenticeships for young people, which it was previously announced (30 May) would replace "rip-off" university degrees. 

The party also plans to introduce an Advanced British Standard, a qualification for 16-to-19-year-olds that aims to "end the artificial and damaging divide between academic and technical education".

Faiza Khan, executive director at the skills development business City & Guilds, commented that she would like to see more detailed plans as to how the party would implement these changes.

She said: “While these proposals are promising, the devil is in the detail. Effective implementation is essential to genuinely benefit learners, employers and the broader economy. We would like to see comprehensive plans to ensure that these commitments, particularly the Lifelong Learning Entitlement, lead to meaningful skills development.”

Read more: Conservatives pledge 100,000 new apprenticeships

National insurance and tax

The Conservatives pledged to reduce employees’ national insurance contributions by 2p, which would halve it from 12% at the beginning of 2024 to 6% by April 2027, a total tax cut of £1,350 for the average worker on £35,000. 

The party would also cut taxes for self-employed people by abolishing the main rate of self-employed national insurance by the end of their parliamentary term.

Commenting on the Tories' proposed 2p national insurance cut, Jon Rudoe, co-founder of the employee money-saving platform Nous.co, told HR magazine: “On its own, this will make some employees better off. But when you account for the impact of stealth taxes, which have dragged more people into higher tax brackets, the picture is very different.

“Tweaking taxes isn’t enough to make up for years of soaring prices. Our research shows that a typical family of four has seen their annual cost of living increase by more than £5,000 in the last two years.

“Employees have been battered by the cost of living crisis. It’s essential that businesses keep out their focus on financial wellbeing.

“Employers can look at benefits and programmes that tackle employees’ money worries at source, rather than investing in gimmicks or quick fixes.”


The Conservatives claimed they would cut tax for pensioners with the 'triple lock plus' scheme. This would mean that the state pension and the tax-free allowance for pensioners would rise in line with the highest inflation figure, earnings or 2.5%.

Welfare and DEI

The manifesto solidified plans announced earlier by the party (11 May) to introduce controls on DEI initiatives and government spending to “make government more efficient". 

The manifesto also doubled down on plans to reform welfare for people living with disabilities, and for people signed off sick from work, as well as an overhaul of the the sick-note system.