3 Policies From Labour Party Conference You Need To Know About

Labour has announced new policies on period poverty and credit card debt, here's what you need to know

Labour Policies Government Brexit Politics

by Vicky Spratt |

We’re currently in the midst of political party conference season. We’ve already had the Liberal Democrats get together, Labour is in the process of convening in Brighton as you read this and, next week, the Conservatives will have their annual get together in Manchester.

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So, what do you need to know about Labour’s conference? Aside from the fact that there have been performances from the likes of Clean Bandit and that Jeremy Corbyn appeared on stage as dry ice swelled around him while the crowd chanted ‘Ohhhh Jeremy Corbyn’ to the tune of The White Stripes Seven Nation Army, there are some pretty interesting policy announcements that are definitely worth sitting up and paying attention to.

Period Policy

First up is Her Majesty’s Opposition’s pledge to end period poverty. On Saturday, Shadow Women and Equalities Minister Dawn Butler unveiled the policy which states that, if elected, Labour would end period poverty by handing out free sanitary products in schools, food banks and homeless shelters.

As things stand, young women and girls from low-income families across England are struggling to afford essential sanitary protection. Leeds-based charity, Freedom4Girls reported earlier this year that some were missing school, relying on donations or food banks and forced to use makeshift protection when on their period.

Both the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have previously called on the Government to take action on this issue. In March Baroness Lorely Burt, the Lib Dems' equalities spokesperson, wrote to Education Secretary Justine Greening, to highlight the issue and ask for legislation to help those affected. It is understood the Greening is ‘looking into’ period poverty, but no formal reply has been sent to Burt and no formal announcement has yet been made by Greening’s office.

Credit Crunching

Next, credit card debt. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, had announced a new party policy aimed at helping those currently caught in a spiral of credit card debt whereby interest rates prevent them from getting back in the black. Labour says this would help more than 3 million people in Britain who are currently paying more in interest than they actually borrowed. This would see the credit card industry in line with the payday loans industry which was regulated in 2015 after a campaign led by Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy.

The announcement has been well-received by debt charities who aid people caught in spirals of ‘unsuitable borrowing’.

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit

And, finally, the issue of the hour (or rather, year), leaving the EU. Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, carefully navigated the issue without committing as to whether or not Labour was pro remaining in the single market. He has said that a ‘customs union is possible’ in an article written for *The Times *while Corbyn and McDonnell have refused to commit on the issue.

There will be no vote on Brexit at Labour’s conference, despite reports that the party is somewhat divided, particularly when it comes to whether or not remaining in the single market should be a policy.

This issue is divisive for Labour, with a recent poll of party members finding that the majority want to remain in the single market. Jeremy Corbyn, however, is not so sure. Yesterday he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show ‘at the moment we’re part of the single market, obviously, that has pressure on it through the European Union to privatise rail. For example, and other services’. Roughly translated, that means ‘I’m not a fan of the single market and I’d like a better solution because I do not advocate the privatisation of public services.’

It isn't only concrete commitments on Brexit that are notable by their absence. There had, at the time of writing, been no major policy announcements on housing.

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**Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt **

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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