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What each party promises voters in its UK general election manifesto | Manifestos 2024

Of the big parties contesting the election outside Northern Ireland, all but the Scottish National Party and Reform UK have now released their manifestos. So what is on offer thus far to voters on 4 July?

Economy, tax and spending

You could very broadly split the fiscal offerings into two camps: the disinclination to raise taxes among Labour and the Conservatives; and the less rigid approach of the Liberal Democrats and Greens. Within this, of course, are many other distinctions.

Labour’s manifesto promises £7.4bn of tax rises, including a pledge to levy VAT on private school fees, one to tighten the taxation of non-doms, and one to widen the windfall tax on oil and gas companies. That pays for just £4.8bn in new spending, which will pay for more teachers and nurses as well as green investment.

The Tories have much bigger commitments on both spending and raising money. The party is planning to cut £17bn in taxes, mainly by reducing the rate of national insurance. But it is less specific on how it will raise that money, for example promising £12bn of unspecified welfare reductions.

The Liberal Democrats have bigger commitments still, promising to raise £27bn in taxes such as capital gains tax and a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies. Much of that money will be spent on the NHS and social care, including providing more access to mental health support, GPs and dentists.

The party says it would spend another £19.7bn on investment, such as building 150,000 new social homes a year. This money is not included in its costing, however, suggesting it would be funded by extra borrowing.

The Greens advocate a wealth tax, among other changes, to support their fiscal plans. Plaid Cymru’s focus is primarily on securing for Wales what the party argues is a fairer distribution of central government funds.

Health

Pretty well all the parties agree that dentistry needs urgent action, including solving the problem of ‘dental deserts’ along with other NHS crises. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Pretty much everyone agrees that the NHS and dentistry need urgent action, but each party has its own way of trying to address the crises of waiting lists and “dental deserts”.

Labour is pledging 40,000 new appointments a week to clear backlogs, plus more NHS technology and a “dentistry rescue plan”, including supervised tooth-brushing for three- to five-year-olds.

The Tories have pledged their own dental plan, mainly based around new GP surgeries and a cull of health service managers. As part of a long-term workforce plan which the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, unveiled last year, the party would recruit 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors by 2029.

The Lib Dems and Greens, with their greater fiscal scope from tax changes, are going further. The Lib Dems would offer a time guarantee to see a GP, and free adult social care. The Greens would add £8bn a year more for the NHS, plus a similar amount for infrastructure.

Plaid Cymru has its own troubles with the Welsh health system, but promises an increase in GPs by restoring funding for them to 8.7% of the devolved health budget.

Environment

Unlike Labour, the Conservatives are pledging to keep issuing licences for North Sea oil and gas extraction. They will maintain the windfall tax unless oil prices fall sharply, but will continue to offer investment incentives for fossil fuel companies. The party says it will invest in green technologies such as carbon capture and storage, but will offer MPs a vote on the next stage of its net zero plan.

Labour’s climate plan is centred on the creation of two new institutions: an energy generation company known as Great British Energy and an investment vehicle called the National Wealth Fund. Together these account for the bulk of the party’s green investment, with Labour promising to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2030.

The Lib Dems go further, with proposals for an emergency programme of home insulation and heat pump installation, while the Greens promise to cancel the recently awarded licences for the Rosebank oilfield. Plaid Cymru is pushing for a big expansion of renewable energy across Wales.

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Education

Labour promises free breakfast clubs in every primary school. Photograph: Andrew Fox/The Observer

The Conservatives have made a number of pledges on education, including a ban on mobile phones during the school day and mandatory maths study to 18. The party is promising to maintain day-to-day spending on schools in real terms, but this will increase pressure on other unprotected areas such as local government and the courts system.

Labour is promising to recruit 6,500 new teachers, paid for by adding VAT to private school fees, as well as free breakfast clubs in every primary school. The party said this week it would introduce 3,000 extra nurseries in schools, although some in the industry have called on the party to offer more money to pay for extra staff.

Among the Lib Dem offerings is a lifelong skills grant, giving adults £5,000 to spend on improving their skills. The Greens would abolish Ofsted, end “high-stakes formal testing” in primary and secondary schools, and scrap university tuition fees. Plaid Cymru also wants to recruit more teachers, and would like universal free school meals.

Immigration

The Conservatives are campaigning hard on immigration, with a promise that flights deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda would start leaving immediately if they won the election. Sunak has promised to bring net migration to half its current level, while making sure it stays down by implementing a cap.

Labour has also promised to cut net migration, without saying by how much. It would scrap the Rwanda scheme and try to stop unofficial arrivals via small boats across the Channel with a new border security command. The party is also promising to sign returns agreements with international partners, though will not say how many people it is willing to accept as part of those agreements.

The other parties take a different approach, with the Lib Dems promising safe and legal routes for asylum seekers and removing responsibility for work and student visas from the Home Office. Plaid Cymru wants to introduce more safe routes for asylum seekers to come to Britain, while the Greens would drop restrictions on migrant workers bringing dependants and would allow asylum seekers to work.

Housing

Construction of new blocks of flats at Barking Riverside, London. Photograph: Marcin Rogozinski/Alamy

The Conservative manifesto promises to build 1.6m new homes in the next parliament, but does not pledge to restore mandatory housing targets for councils, which were dropped in 2023.

Labour would restore those local housebuilding targets and allow some targeted construction on the green belt. The party is also promising widespread reform of the planning system, including by bringing down the cost of compulsory purchase orders.

The Lib Dems would promise 150,000 new social rent homes a year, with Plaid Cymru promising what the party calls a “right to adequate housing”. The Greens have promised a mass building programme, rent controls and a plan to let councils requisition empty properties or ones without proper insulation.

Crime and policing

The Conservatives say they will oversee the recruitment of 8,000 new police officers and a rollout of facial recognition technology. Labour is promising neighbourhood policing teams and says it will “stamp out” low-level misdemeanours such as fly-tipping.

The Lib Dems say they want more focus on rehabilitation and community supervision, while the Greens propose a national commission to “agree an evidence-based approach to reform of the UK’s counterproductive drug laws”. Plaid Cymru is calling for the full devolution of policing power to Wales.

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