Local Elections 2022: Manifesto Round-Up It’s election time again! On May 5th, Scotland heads to the polls to elect a new wave of local Councillors to represent you and your local community. Councillors represent you on issues like public transport, bin collections, local mental health services and more. Most candidates represent a political party, but some stand as independents (no party affiliation). If you’re aged 16 or over and have registered to vote, it’s important to make your voice heard. But, it can be tricky to know who to vote for. That’s why we’ve put together this Manifesto round-up. We’ve looked at the manifestos of the main five parties and read what they have to say on specific issues of interest to care leavers. This isn’t a partisan statement of who to vote for, but will hopefully give you a better idea of what the major parties have to say on the important topics. We would encourage you to do your own research too before casting your ballot! Remember that in this election you can vote for more than one candidate by ranking your preferences. Local elections use a system called Single Transferable Vote, which means you can rank candidates in order of preference (1 for your preferred candidate, 2 for your second etc.). For more information about the election, including a quick questionnaire to check if you have registered to vote, click here. The Cost of Living Crisis Many politicians have spoken of the cost of living crisis - energy prices and food prices are increasing, whilst wages are stagnating. In essence, this is the idea that it is getting more expensive to live and this will push more people into poverty. The SNP promise to “prioritise action to ease the cost of living squeeze and help those on the lowest incomes”. Scottish Labour are committed to “topping up the welfare fund” to ensure those on low incomes do not fall through the cracks, and delivering “a £400 fuel cost payment" for those who are struggling the most. The Greens have called for “urgent action to tackle obscene energy prices”, and the Liberal Democrats offer “continued targeted support to the most vulnerable households during this crisis.” Council Tax Council tax is a payment made by residents of a local authority to fund Council services. Some people are exempt from paying Council tax, for example students. The SNP want to “protect the Council tax reduction scheme”, keeping Scotland as the place where you pay the lowest Council tax in the UK, and exempt under-22s from paying Council tax whether they are students or not. Similarly, the Conservatives want to “cut Council tax for one million people” and keep it “as low as possible”. However, Scottish Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens want to scrap Council tax altogether and replace it with a “fairer” system. The Lib Dems call this “long overdue” and the Greens call it “a regressive tax”. Mental Health All the major parties feature mental health as a significant part of their manifestos. The Conservatives want to “increase funding to Council-run mental health services”, and the Lib Dems want to make local authorities “mental health champions” - this would involve getting more counsellors in schools, and supporting staff to take a trauma-informed approach to work. The Greens also want to make counselling available to all school pupils and Labour want mental health workers in every GP practice. The SNP commit to working with the Scottish Government to “strengthen mental health strategies.” Housing All parties have commitments on ending rough sleeping, and creating more low-cost housing. Here’s how they differ in these pledges: The Lib Dems are seeking to end homelessness, and expand the supply of low-cost housing options, especially for young people. This would include the building of thousands of homes per year for social rent. Labour wants to “take action to end rough sleeping” and increase the supply of affordable housing by building 25 thousand new homes per year. The SNP are targeting 110,000 more affordable homes by 2032, and are also pledging a £50 million fund to eradicate homelessness. The Greens want to deliver rent controls and “tackle rip-off housing costs”. The Scottish Conservatives are also seeking 25 thousand new homes per year, and want to end rough sleeping by 2026. Other Issues Of course, there are tons of other issues to consider before casting your ballot. Here are a few we picked out of the manifestos. The SNP pledge to “work with the Scottish Government to work fully on the Promise”, and want to “enshrine the right to food in law”. Labour also support the enshrinement of the right to food in law, and “better support for foster carers.” They also want to cap bus fares at £1.80 per journey and half rail fares for three months. The Greens also want improved public transport, specifically a publicly-owned bus and ferry network which is locally accountable. Finally, the Conservatives want to roll out “faster full fibre broadband” to homes across Scotland. We would encourage you to look at all the party manifestos before casting your vote - these are available here: SNP Labour Greens Lib Dems Conservatives Most importantly, remember to vote and have your voice heard!