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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

With the General Election just a little over a week away, we look at the main parties and their latest attempts to secure votes, including the Conservatives' plans for utilising bank fines, Labour's pledge to help first-time buyers and the latest news emerging from the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP.


Conservatives 'will use bank fines to fund apprenticeships'

Should the Conservative Party emerge victorious from the upcoming General Election, it will fund 50,000 apprenticeships using money raised from fines imposed on Deutsche Bank following the lender's involvement in the rate-fixing scandal. This is according to Prime Minister David Cameron, who explained the pledge will target 22 to 24-year-olds in the hope of providing young people with the right training to help get them in to work.

Mr Cameron - who also claimed in The Times newspaper this week that only his party can save the United Kingdom from the intentions of Scottish nationals, by scuppering Scottish National Party plans to form a coalition government with Labour - said the apprenticeship plan would add to the three million apprenticeships that his party has promised should he continue as Prime Minister following the election. 

Labour vows to help FTBs access property ladder

A Labour government would offer a helping hand to first-time buyers (FTBs) struggling to get a foot on the property ladder, Ed Miliband has said. The Labour leader explained that should his party come to power, FTBs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be exempt from paying stamp duty upon the purchase of a property below the value of £300,000, for a period of three years.

Mr Miliband, who claimed houses should be for families to live in, rather than for speculators to snap up, stated: "It's the right thing to do to enable people to get back on the housing ladder and that's what a Labour government will do."

Under the proposals, buyers from overseas would be subject to more tax, while those living locally would get first call on half of the new homes in their area. 

Greens 'target an end to Right to Buy'

The Green Party has pledged to bring an end to the Right to Buy scheme, with party leader Natalie Bennett explaining to BBC Breakfast that the party would instead build 500,000 social homes on brown field sites.

The move would mean council house tenants will no longer be allowed to buy their own homes, while a further 700,000 homes that are currently empty would be brought back into use by the party.

Ms Bennett also wants to see rent levels brought down, stating: "We need to move away from thinking of homes primarily as financial assets and go back to thinking of them as safe places to live." 

Lib Dems identify education as coalition deal-breaker

The Liberal Democrats have identified education as a deal-breaker should it be invited to enter a coalition after the public goes to the polls on May 7th. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, whose party forms the current coalition government along with the Conservatives, told the BBC that the price of the party entering coalition is a pledge to raise education funding in England to £55.3 billion from £49 billion over the course of the next Parliament. 

Farage: Businesses shouldn't fear leaving EU

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has claimed the UK is strong enough to survive quitting the European Union (EU), and reassured UK businesses they have nothing to fear should such a move happen. Mr Farage claimed leaving the EU would not harm the country's economic situation and would not lead to millions of jobs being placed at risk.

"The UK has now become the Eurozone's biggest export market in the world. They need us more than we need them," he said.