The General Election is coming soon and the UK is getting ready to vote. Here is a list of the main topics of political debate here:

1) Health

nhsThe UK runs a public health service called the NHS (National Health Service). This means that anybody who needs medical attention receives it for free. It is funded by taxes. The NHS is a big concern for many voters because;

  • The UK population is increasing and people are also living longer. This means that there is a strain on services; there are more people needing medical care and not enough doctors and nurses to help them. People sometimes wait a long time to see a doctor.
  • The NHS says that it needs £8 billion more to provide a good service (to ensure everyone can see a doctor when they need to), but where will this money come from?
  • There has recently been some privatisation of the NHS; this means that private companies, not the government, have control over some hospitals and medicine. Many people are worried that private companies will not run the NHS as well because they may be more concerned with making money than caring for people.

2) HS2

hs2This is a new high-speed train that will run between London and Birmingham. It will cost £43 billion to complete. Construction is planned to begin in 2017 it will be completed by 2026.

  • Many voters are worried that this is not the best way to spend money. The train will not benefit many people, especially those living in the north of England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Many people in these regions think the government should cancel the train and use the money in a way that would benefit more people. There are already trains that go between Birmingham and London
  • There are also concerns that it will be very bad for the environment because many fields and trees will be destroyed.

3) Immigration

uk borderThis is possibly the most controversial topic of this election. The UK has huge numbers of immigrants entering the country every year (around 300,000). Many people are worried that because the UK is a small country, we cannot support such a large increase in population.

  • Because the UK is a member of the European Union, there is nothing that can be done to reduce immigration from European countries.
  • Although immigration in the UK is overall profitable; adding £20billion to the UK economy (immigrants paying tax etc), many people worry that the extra people are putting strain on schools and hospitals.
  • There is also a concern that immigrants come to the UK to get free medical treatment and benefits. Some people are concerned that some immigrants can claim these services without working or paying taxes in the UK. They think this is unfair.

4) Zero Hour Contracts

0 hoursIn recent years companies have started to employ people on zero hour contracts. This means that the companies do not have to give work to employees and that they can contact employees as and when they are needed.

  • The problem with this type of contract is that people are not guaranteed work and therefore do not know if they will have the money they need to feed their family.
  • This contract also means that employees do not have the same rights as usual workers; for example they are not entitled to holiday pay or sick pay.
  • Employees on a zero hour contracts also have no job security.
  • There are an estimated 700,000 people in the UK working on a zero hour contract.

5) The European Union

eumapMany people are concerned that being a member of the European Union is not beneficial to the UK.

  • Many laws are made at the European level instead of in the United Kingdom. Some people would prefer more control over this and do not like the idea of other countries having influence over laws in the United Kingdom
  • The European Freedom of Movement Act means that anyone from any EU country can immigrate to the UK. This is a big concern for some people who think that the UK cannot support such a big population.
  • The EU is the UK’s biggest economic trading partner and political ally. Some people are worried that if the UK left the EU, then the British economy would suffer and that the UK would have less international power.

Which do you think is the biggest problem? What do you think the UK should do to solve these problems? 

For more on UK Politics:

Politics Vocabulary

Main Political Parties in the UK and what they want

True of False Quiz