From banks to welfare, the notable new commitments in the 32-page policy blueprint

<i>The Independent's</i> verdict on what the policies really mean in eight key areas
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Education: School reform and exam shake-up

What it says

The parties promise to promote the reform of schools so new providers can enter the state system in response to parental demand: all schools will have greater freedom over the curriculum. They also plan to simplify the regulation of standards in education and target inspection on areas of failure. More flexibility in the exams system will be created so state schools can use qualifications like the iGCSE. They will keep external tests assessment but will review how the Key Stage 2 tests (SATs for 11-year-olds) operate in future.

What they mean

Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove's plans for reforming state education will go through virtually unscathed. His plans for Swedish-style independent "free" schools will go ahead – but they will not be alone in being given more freedom from the national curriculum. All schools will now enjoy that.

Both the National Association of Head Teachers and National Union of Teachers will welcome the review of national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds. However, the new government is still committed to external tests. The simplification of the regulations on standards means a review of Ofsted, the education watchdog, following criticism that it is no longer "fit for purpose". On exams, Michael Gove has won his battle to ensure state schools can offer pupils the same range as independent schools.

Verdict

Conservatives winning in extra time after score draw in last week's limited agreement.

Health & Social care: NHS bureaucracy to be slashed

What it says

The policy document promises to guarantee year-on-year real-terms increases in health spending and an end to top-down reorganisation of the NHS. It pledges to cut the cost of NHS administration by a third and transfer savings to frontline services. A&E units and maternity wards currently earmarked for closure could be reprieved. A cancer drugs fund will be established. This will allow patients to access drugs not normally available on the NHS. Foreign health professionals will be banned from working in the NHS unless they have passed "robust" language and competence tests. A commission will examine how social care of the elderly can be funded.

What they mean

Most of the ideas were developed by the Tories in opposition. Some – such as restrictions on foreign doctors – were proposed by both parties. But the Lib Dems have achieved some key concessions. The two parties differed on NHS accountability, but we seem to have ended up with a merging of both policies. The Conservatives get their independent NHS board but Lib-Dem ideas for elections to primary care trust boards have also been adopted.

Verdict

Score draw

Welfare: Incapacity claims to be reassessed

What it says

All 2.6m current claimants of incapacity benefit will be reassessed for readiness to work. Those regarded as capable of work will be moved on to the jobseeker's allowance, which is less generous.

Receipt of benefits for those able to work will be conditional on their willingness to work. All employment schemes will be merged into a single programme, which will also cover incapacity benefit claimants.

A commission on social care will report within a year. It will consider the Tory proposal of a voluntary £8,000 insurance payment so people would not have to sell their homes to pay residential care fees. In a concession to the Liberal Democrats, it will also look at other options including a £1.7bn "partnership model" in which in which taxpayers and older people shared the cost of care.

What they mean

Direction of travel is in the Tories' direction. The Liberal Democrats have accepted Tory plans to reassess existing claimants rather than to apply a stricter regime to new claimants only. This could prove controversial. The Tories concede that further detail is needed on when claimants would lose benefits or see them cut.

The big challenge of social care, with which the Liberal Democrats had more in common with Labour , has been put off until another day. The Liberal Democrats have failed to win their policy of offering a week's respite care to 1m unpaid carers.

Verdict

Tory win

Local government: Council tax to be frozen for a year

What it says

Council tax bills in England will be frozen for at least one year and the Government will seek to freeze it for a further year.

A radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy for local government and community groups will aim to "end the era of top-down government". Review of local government finance. Nick Clegg has hinted at a new system of local taxes, saying there were "1,001 ways" to raise and spend money locally.

Directly elected mayors in the 12 largest English cities, and local authorities to win a general power of competence (to allow them to take on new functions).



What they mean

The freeze on council tax bills is not guaranteed. The Tories have slightly watered down their election pledge of a two-year freeze in council tax bills to save a typical family £216 over that period. The document is vague about what new freedoms councils might enjoy. Despite the Tories' commitment to decentralisation, the Treasury may oppose giving town halls extra spending powers at a time when cutting public spending is the Government's number one priority.

Verdict

Score draw

Crime: Public to elect police chiefs

What it says

Directly elected police commissioners are a key feature of the agreement. Each police force in the country will be run by an individual elected by the public. There are also a raft of alcohol-related pledges. Maximum fine for under-age alcohol sales is to double to £20,000 and police will be granted the power to remove licences from troubled premises and shut down shops found to be selling alcohol to under-age children.

Hospitals will now be required to share information with the police so they know where gun and knife crime is happening and can target those hot spots.



What it means

The Conservatives have conceded little ground. The key policing feature of their manifesto was to introduce directly elected commissioners, whereas the Lib Dems favoured elected police authorities.

Much of the crime and policing section is lifted from the Conservative manifesto, notably the pledge to crack down on those selling alcohol to underage children, and pubs which are well-known for trouble. The main concession is the introduction of the Cardiff Model – the scheme which allowed hospitals to share information with police forces. This was a Lib Dem idea.

Verdict

Tory Win

Banks: Crackdown on banking bonuses

What it says

"Robust action" is promised to "tackle unacceptable bonuses in the financial services sector". A banking levy will also be introduced, and the banks will "reformed" to "promote a competitive economy, to sustain the recovery and to protect and sustain jobs". Nationalised banks will be given "targets" for lending to small and medium-sized businesses. An independent commission will examine ways to break up the banks. The Bank of England is set for a bigger role, both in regulating the overall supply of credit in the economy and "oversight" of the policing of individual financial institutions, currently undertaken by the Financial Services Authority. "Unfair" bank charges will be outlawed. Dormant bank accounts will fund a "Big Society Bank", lending to community groups and charities.

What they mean

Mostly common ground across the two parties, though it is obvious none of the detail has been worked out. This is less to do with fundamental disagreement and more to do with the complexity of the issues and the need for international agreement on many of them. Setting targets for lending risks increasing the banks' bad debts and damaging their financial strength, and only applies to the nationalised groups. They may well complain at having to undertake "politically motivated" lending. It has long been an aim of Vince Cable, though, so he has clearly had some influence on this one. The Big Society Bank funded by dormant monies looks very much like one of Gordon Brown's pet schemes.

Verdict

Score draw

Public finance: £6bn in cuts is the most urgent task

What it says

"The most urgent task facing this coalition is to tackle our record debts, because without sound finances, none of our ambitions will be deliverable." The Agreement states that reducing government borrowing is "urgent" because "it is the most vulnerable who are most at risk from the debt crisis, and that it is deeply unfair that the Government could have to spend more on debt-interest payments than on schools". So the £6bn of cuts promised by the Conservatives this year will be pushed through, with the bulk of the proceeds going to reducing the deficit, and a little to job creation. The Agreement suggests that the agreement of the Treasury's economics team and the Bank of England has already been sought and granted for the pre-emptive move to cut spending and borrowing.

What they mean

The Liberal Democrats sided with Labour in the election, saying £6bn in cuts would be a "risk to recovery", and now have to watch George Osborne go ahead anyway, though the crisis in the eurozone may have forced the coalition's hand in any case. On tax there seems plenty of compromise; long-term commitments to reduce corporation tax and cancel most of next year's employers' national insurance rise is in line with the Tory approach; taking the poorly paid out of income tax is a key Lib-Dem priority. Capital gains tax looks like more of a battlefield. On VAT, there is a thundering silence; neither party would want to raise it to, say 20 per cent, but they may have to.

Verdict

Clear win for the Conservatives.

Justice: Ban on identifying rape accused

What it says

The identification of men accused of rape will be banned until their conviction – a move not foreshadowed in either Tory or Liberal Democrat manifesto.

A "rehabilitation revolution" is promised, under which private companies are paid to get offenders back on the straight and narrow, and efforts made to move drug addicts and mentally-ill out of jail.

Cash will be deducted from prisoners' pay and given to victims of crime. Some of the money will be used to pay for up to 15 new rape crisis centres. The deportation of asylum-seekers deemed at risk of persecution because of their sexuality will be ended.

A Commission will be set up to investigate the establishment of a British Bill of Rights. It will "incorporate and build on" Britain's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

What they mean

The move on rape anonymity was a major surprise of the package – and provoked a storm of protest. Elsewhere, the proposals have a distinctly "orange" tinge. There is no sign of Tory commitments to build more prison places, to impose longer jail sentences for knife-carriers or give magistrates tougher sentencing powers. The form of words in the Bill of Rights is a complicated fudge that fails to mask a Conservative retreat. Scrapping the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a Bill of Rights was a key election pledge for many Tory MPs. There is no mention of scrapping the Act and yesterday's document promises to observe the European Convention instinctively opposed by many Tory MPs. The move on deportations is also very Lib-Dem friendly.

Verdict

Convincing victory for Nick Clegg

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