General Election 2019: manifesto tracker

 

Our manifesto tracker breaks down and analyses the key policy commitments from the manifestos of each of the main parties – from Brexit to public services, and taxes to infrastructure.

The tables below set out policies included in manifestos published so far by the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party – and we will continue to add further policies as they are announced.

The key manifesto commitments of the smaller parties – and their potential impact on the next government – are captured at the bottom of the page.

Brexit | Immigration and tradeNHS and social care | EducationJustice | Welfare and pensions | Housing and homelessnessPublic finances and administration | Economic and other policy | Data, digital and mediaInfrastructure and environmentConstitution and Parliament | Devolution | Other parties

 

Brexit

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Brexit
  • Start to pass Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament before Christmas; leave the EU in January 2020
  • Implementation period will not be extended beyond December 2020
  • Take the UK out of the EU Single Market and Customs Union, and end the role of the ECJ
  • Continue to participate in EU's Horizon programme after Brexit
  • Ensure Northern Ireland businesses have "unfettered access" to the rest of the UK
  • Introduce legislation to create post-Brexit schemes for trade, agriculture, fishing and the environment within first 100 days if elected to government
  • Renegotiate a deal within three months and hold a second referendum within six months, offering choice between renegotiated deal and Remain
  • Legislate for the deal and a binding referendum in a Withdrawal Agreement and Referendums Bill
  • Renegotiated deal will contain protections for citizens' rights, honour international obligations (including the Good Friday Agreement), an "appropriate" transition period, and protections for workers' rights, consumer standards, environmental protections and level playing field provisions
  • Future relationship would aim for a customs union and a "close relationship" with the EU Single Market  
  • Any future Brexit outcome would ensure no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; no regulatory border down the Irish Sea
  • Declaratory system to replace EU settlement scheme for EU citizens
  • Rule out no deal, end spending of billions of pounds on no-deal preparations
  • Revoke Article 50
  • If not elected as a majority government, conduct a People's Vote with the option to stay in EU
  • Support a second EU referendum
  • Support revocation of Article 50 if it is the only alternative to no deal
  • Protect the funding Scotland receives through EU Structural and Social Funds
  • Maintain current and future EU standards and regulations in key areas like animal and plant health

The Conservatives and Labour have set unrealistic deadlines for delivering their Brexit outcome.

While it would be possible for a Conservative government to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and take the UK out of the EU by 31 January 2020, it will be a big challenge to negotiate the full future relationship before December 2020. Trade deals are difficult to negotiate, usually taking at least three or four years, and the agreement will also have to cover the security relationship. The deal then has to be ratified, with a complex EU ratification process, and then implemented – all of which will take time. If the deal is not both agreed and ratified (even provisionally) by December 2020, then the UK will face a no-deal exit in most areas of co-operation, e.g. trade, data and security.

The Conservatives want to end the role of the ECJ in the UK, but the Northern Ireland protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement includes a role for the ECJ overseeing aspects of the NI–GB border. There will also be new documentation required for trade between NI and GB.

Labour's planned timetable is difficult, if not impossible, particularly if it plans to legislate for a second Brexit referendum after renegotiation. Lib Dem and SNP proposals for a second referendum have not got set timelines but would face similar constraints.

Labour’s proposed changes to the Withdrawal Agreement include "more robust" provisions on workers' rights and the environment. While these asks are vague, in principle they are likely to be acceptable to the EU. But the future relationship proposal for a “close relationship” with the Single Market is very high-level and leaves key questions unanswered, for example, on migration. Without accepting free movement, the UK could not remain in the Single Market and would therefore have limited access to it in comparison to now.

It is possible for the UK to revoke Article 50 unilaterally (the Lib Dems policy) but this could be challenged in the courts if it is done without parliamentary approval. The SNP’s policy to revoke Article 50 to avoid no deal will only be an option while the UK is still in the EU. The government would not be able to revoke Article 50 during the transition period to avoid a no-deal exit at the end of 2020.

 

Immigration and trade

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Immigration
  • Fewer lower-skilled migrants; overall numbers to fall
  • Introduce legislation for an Australian-style points system within first 100 days; prioritise people with good grasp of English, who have been law-abiding, have good education and qualifications; most immigrants will need job offer
  • Increase NHS international surcharge within 100 days
  • Increase the annual quota for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme pilot from 2,500 to 10,000
  • Prevent any more foreign national offenders entering the country
  • End the "hostile environment"
  • Close all immigration detention centres
  • Seek to protect the rights associated with freedom of movement in negotiations on future relationship in the event of Brexit
  • Automatic right of EU nationals to remain in the UK (no need to apply for settled status)
  • Scrap "hostile environment"; end indefinite detention and strip Home Office of policy-making responsibilities
  • Replace tier 2 work visas with 'flexible, merit-based system'
  • Abolish minimum income requirement for partner visas
  • Give asylum seekers right to work three months after application; resettle 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children over next 10 years; resettle 10,000 vulnerable refugees every year
  • Support creation of a 'Scottish visa'
  • Oppose "hostile environment"
  • Implement declaratory system for registration of EU citizens
  • Oppose the £30,000 minimum salary threshold for immigrants
  • Reduce cost of citizenship application process
  • Preserve freedom of movement with the EU
  • Extend the no-deal three-year 'temporary leave to remain'

All parties are pledging to make major changes to the immigration system. But none gives much policy detail on how things would change. The Conservatives have not explained what an 'Australian-style points system' means in practice, while Labour has dodged the question of whether it would support continued free movement of people in its proposed Brexit deal. Promising to scrap the "hostile environment" is little more than a soundbite without a plan for what would replace it – if anything – in terms of immigration enforcement. Both the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have suggested breaking up the Home Office. We have argued the case for reform, but many of the Home Office’s problems can't be solved by changing departmental responsibilities. The SNP’s request for regional visas could introduce significant additional complexity into the visa system, but there is little detail on the plan. The SNP plan to reduce salary cap is something the UK government has asked an independent body – the Migration Advisory Committee – to look at and report in the new year.

It is highly unlikely the Conservative commitments on trade can be met. First, the UK government would struggle to have the capacity to negotiate new trade deals with other countries while it is still negotiating a future relationship with the EU. Other countries are likely to want to know the terms of the UK's relationship with the EU before entering into negotiations with the UK.

The Conservative manifesto says the UK will seek to open up trade in services, but most trade deals don't include much on services and even the EU has struggled to liberalise trade in services between members.

Labour’s trade policy is closely aligned with broader humanitarian and environmental development goals. However, Labour says more about what it would not allow trade policy to do than the reverse. The manifesto also says nothing about how the UK would influence EU trade policy given it would be in a customs union with the EU and therefore would not be in full control of its tariffs.

The Lib Dems mention trade policy mostly in relation to ensuring trade deals do not undermine protections for developing countries.

The SNP manifesto is concerned with protecting Scottish industries from being traded away in future trade deals by a UK government and ensuring Scottish products are promoted abroad. Similar to Labour, the SNP wants to ensure trade deals, in particular with the US, do not affect the NHS or undermine standards.

Trade
  • Aim to have 80% of UK trade covered by free trade agreements within the next three years, starting with the USA, Australia, NZ and Japan
  • Create up to 10 freeports around the UK
  • Would benefit from EU trade deals as part of a customs union with the EU 
  • Trade policy emphasises upholding “the highest environmental and social regulations in all our trade relations", furthering human rights and ensuring NHS is not affected by any deal
  • Ensure scrutiny of trade deals to “ensure they do not worsen inequalities or undermine human rights or developing countries’ ability to regulate the environmental and social impacts of businesses"
  • Support international-rules based system.
  • Aim to protect Scotland’s sensitive industries (like agriculture and fish) in any future trade deal
  • Would seek to ensure that “dodgy trade deals” do not lower environmental and labour standards or negatively impact the NHS
  • Would press the UK government to fund promotion of Scottish products like Scotch whiskey in vital export markets like the US

 

NHS and social care

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

NHS
  • Increase funding for NHS England by 3.1% between 2019/20 and 2023/24
  • Enshrine the NHS long-term plan in law within first three months
  • Fund and build 40 new hospitals over next 10 years
  • Free hospital parking for certain groups, e.g. disabled people
  • 50,000 more nurses; £5,000–8,000 maintenance grant for nursing students
  • 6,000 more GPs; 6,000 more primary care professionals
  • Review pension tax taper affecting doctors' pensions within first 30 days
  • Introduce NHS visa
  • Increase funding for NHS England by 4.3% between 2019/20 and 2023/24
  • End patient charges
  • Return NHS England to international average level of capital investment
  • End and reverse ‘privatisation’; repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to end requirement for competitive tendering
  • Exclude NHS and medicine pricing from any trade deals
  • Free annual NHS dental check-ups
  • £1.6 billion extra per year for mental health
  • Establish generic drug company; secure access to generics if fair prices are rejected for patented drugs
  • Increase funding for NHS England by 3.8% between 2019/20 and 2023/24 from ring-fenced 1p income tax rise
  • £10 billion in capital funding
  • Reform the Health and Social Care Act 2012 as recommended by the NHS, including ending automatic tendering of services and making the NHS work in a more joined-up way
  • Put funding of health and social care on sound footing in the longer term: develop a health and care tax
  • End the GP shortfall by 2025
  • Ring-fence portion of funding from 1p income tax rise for mental health services; improve access to treatment
  • Call on the UK government to match Scottish per capita NHS spending
  • Propose a new National Health Service Protection Act to guarantee that trade deals will not undermine the founding principles of the NHS

Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have all promised to increase funding for the NHS. Each party’s pledge should be enough to allow the NHS to provide the same standard of care to the growing population who will need it over the next five years, but only Labour and the Lib Dems’ pledges will be enough to improve performance.

All are committed to hiring more GPs, expanding mental health services, and reducing waiting times.



The main differences on NHS 'privatisation' appear to be in the messaging, rather than substance of policies: all three are committed to end the presumption of automatic tendering of NHS healthcare services.



The biggest challenge for all parties will be recruiting and retaining enough staff to meet their promises, as the NHS has a high number of vacancies and growing problems retaining staff.

Social care will be a more pressing concern for the next government, following a decade of spending restraint.

Only the Labour Party has set out funded plans to reform social care, by providing free personal care – but a sustainable funding settlement for social care will require cross-party consensus – as identified by the Conservatives. Our research found that a parliamentary inquiry would be the best way of reaching such consensus.

Social care
  • Build cross-party consensus on solution to social care funding, with talks to begin within first 100 days
  • Solution to include condition that nobody needing care should be forced to sell their home to pay for it
  • £1 billion additional funding in each year of the next Parliament
  • Extend entitlement to leave for unpaid carers to one week
  • Establish ‘National Care Service’ for England
  • Provide free personal care in England for over 65s
  • Increase Carers' Allowance 
  • Double number of people receiving publicly funded care packages
  • Bring in lifetime cap on care costs
  • £7 billion extra on NHS and social care from ring-fenced extra income tax revenue
  • Set up a cross-party convention to agree on long-term funding and an independent budget monitoring body
  • Introduce cap on the cost of care
 

 

Education

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

What this means

Schools and child care
  • Extra £4.3 billion in real-terms for schools by 2023/24, with funding increases to be legislated within first 100 days
  • At least £5,000 a year for each secondary school pupil and at least £4,000 for each primary school pupil
  • Arts premium for secondary schools
  • £1 billion fund for child care, including before and after school and during holidays
  • Extra £7.5 billion in real terms for schools by 2023/24
  • Create new schools funding formula that ‘leaves no child worse off’
  • Cap maximum primary class size at 30
  • Scrap Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs and baseline assessments
  • Bring free schools and academies under control of parents, teachers and local communities
  • Close tax loopholes for private schools
  • Request Social Justice Commission to advise on integrating private schools
  • Provide universal Sure Start Plus for under two-year-olds
  • 30 hours free preschool per week for two-, three- and four-year-olds
  • Extra £4.8 billion in real terms for schools by 2023/24
  • Recruit 20,000 new teachers, increase starter salaries to £30,000 and guarantee 3% pay rises for existing teachers
  • Scrap SATs and Ofsted (replace with HM Inspector of Schools) and replace school league tables with "a broader set of indicators"
  • Reverse cuts to children's centres, £1 billion in extra funding
  • 35 hours of free childcare a week for 2–4-year-olds, and for 9–24-month-old children with two parents working full time

The three main parties in England are committed to reversing the cuts in per-pupil spending since 2010. Labour's plans would increase per-pupil spending above 2010 levels.

The principal differences are about school accountability, children's centres, and the role of local authorities. Labour and the Lib Dems are committed to replacing Ofsted with a different inspection regime, and to expanding children's centres, while the Conservatives have pledged to keep Ofsted.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems have also pledged to expand local authorities role in supervising schools, although only Labour is committed to returning control free schools and academies to “parents, teachers, and local communities”. Both pledges would require more local government staff.

The next government will have to address falling teacher recruitment, which is particularly acute in secondary school science, technology, and computing.

The parties are further apart on childcare and higher education. Labour has pledged to abolish tuition fees. The Lib Dems have the most extensive childcare proposals – 35 hours of free childcare per week for 2–4-year-olds, compared with 30 hours of free childcare under Labour. Both have promised to remove the targeting in the current free childcare system.

The Augar Review, which reported earlier this year, highlighted underinvestment in further education. All of the parties have pledged significant increases in funding or the scope of support for further education. Their policy ideas range from targeted investment to an expansion of free vocational training to personal budgets. Our research has shown that further education policy has been subject to constant tinkering over the last 30 years, with 28 major pieces of legislation relating to further education led by 48 secretaries of state. This has hampered progress. Any further reforms must be committed to for the long term.

Higher education
  • Assess interest rates on student loan repayments
  • Match lost EU funding through the Shared Prosperity Fund, and use £500m of the fund to support disadvantaged people
  • Abolish university tuition fees
  • Bring back maintenance grants
  • Bring in a new funding formula for higher education
  • Review higher education finance in next Parliament
  • Restore university maintenance grants for poorest students
  • Extra £1 billion for further education, including VAT refund for colleges
Further education and skills
  • Create a £3 billion National Skills Fund to provide matching funding for individuals and SMEs taking part in education or training
  • Invest almost £2 billion to upgrade the further education college estate
  • Allow employers to use the apprenticeship-levy for wider range of training, require employers to allocate 25% of their apprenticeship levy accounts to train climate apprentices
  • Increase amount that can be paid to non levy-paying employers by 50%
  • Establish a National Education Service with free vocational training throughout life
  • Develop a national skills strategy and create a new 'Skills Wallet' for every adult, giving them £10,000 to spend on approved training and education courses 
  • Expand the apprenticeship levy

 

Justice

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Police
  • Hire 20,000 new police officers
  • Increase use of stop and search where fair and proportionate
  • New court order to target known knife carriers
  • Hire 22,000 more frontline police officers
  • Reform the police funding formula
  • Better police training on domestic abuse
  • £1 billion for community policing (enough for two new officers per ward, around 16,500)
  • 2% pay rises for police officers
  • Replace police and crime commissioners with accountable police boards
  • Demand refund of £175m in VAT paid by Scottish emergency services

All three parties are committed to reversing cuts to police numbers since 2010. The Conservatives have promised to recruit an additional 20,000 police; Labour has promised an additional 22,000. The Lib Dems have promised to recruit two new "community officers" per ward – around 16,500 new officers. The police are under increasing strain from rising complex crimes such as child exploitation and abuse, which has resulted in decreasing victim satisfaction and the police charging fewer offences. In order to reverse these declines, any rise in police numbers or funding will need to be closely-targeted at growing complex crimes.

Prison standards have fallen dramatically since 2010. Prison assaults have increased, and prisoners now have less access to rehabilitative activity. The next government will have to consider how its police and courts policies will affect the number of prisoners in prison. If the next government aims to reduce the number of prisoners, it will need to ensure probation services are adequately resourced.

Prisons, probation and courts
  • Toughen sentencing for worst offenders; end automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes within first 100 days
  • Introduce legislation within 100 days for tougher sentences to ensure terrorists spend longer in prison 
  • 10,000 additional prison places
  • Implement a Victims' Law; pass Domestic Abuse Bill
  • Restore total prison officer numbers to 2010 levels
  • Bring PFI prisons back in house, no new private prison
  • Institute a presumption against prison sentences of six months or less for non-violent/non-sexual offences
  • Unify probation by creating a publicly run, locally accountable probation service
  • Halt court closures and cuts to staff
  • Recruit 2,000 more prison officers and increase training, education and work opportunities in prison
  • Reduce prisoner numbers by introducing a presumption against short sentences, ending prison sentences for drug possession for personal use, and increasing community sentences
  • Increase funding for supervision of offenders in the community
 

 

Welfare and pensions

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Welfare
  • Continue the rollout of Universal Credit but address difficulties faced by the most vulnerable
  • End benefits freeze
  • Publish National Strategy for Disabled People before end of 2020
  • Reduce the number of reassessments a disabled person must go through when a significant change in condition is unlikely
  • Introduce five-year waiting period for unemployment, housing, and child benefits for EU citizens
  • Prevent people claiming child benefit for children living overseas
  • Scrap Universal Credit; replace five-week waiting time with interim payment
  • Remove benefit cap and two-child limit on child element of Universal Credit
  • Introduce ‘Right to Food’ – halve food bank usage within a year and remove the need altogether within three years
  • Reverse cuts to Employment Support Allowance
  • Introduce a right to food
  • End two-child cap on tax credits and associated rape clause
  • End benefits sanctions
  • "Halt" Universal Credit
  • Press for end to benefits freeze and uplifts in value of income replacement benefits
  • Demand a UK-wide benefit take-up campaign

Most of the parties' welfare pledges focus on Universal Credit. The programme's troubled birth should be a lesson for future governments about how hard it is to deliver transformational projects involving huge numbers of service users. All parties are proposing reforms to ease implementation problems, for instance by reducing waiting times and making certain benefits more generous. Labour has pledged to develop a 'replacement system' while the SNP has pledged to "halt" Universal Credit but it is unclear whether either party wants to reverse the integration of six benefits into one, meaning another huge upheaval, or make further changes to Universal Credit's design. Any major new reforms should be undertaken with extreme caution because extensive implementation problems are likely.

 

Pensions and related benefits
  • Retain triple lock on pensions
  • Maintain winter fuel payment; older person's bus pass and other pensioner benefits; believes TV licences for over 75s should be funded by the BBC
  • Review issue of workers earning £10,000–12,000 missing out on pension benefits
  • Retain triple lock on pensions
  • Abandon plans to raise pension age, leaving it at 66
  • Compensate women born in the 1950s for increases in the state pension age which delayed when they would start receiving their pension
  • Free television licences for over 75s
  • Maintain universal pension-age benefits 
  • Retain triple lock on pensions
  • Address inequalities in pensions law for those in same-sex relationships
  • Protect triple lock on pensions
  • Oppose increase in state pension age
  • Support WASPI campaign
  • Reverse cuts to pension credit
  • Demand free TV licence for over-75s

 

Housing and homelessness

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Housing supply and affordability​
  • At least a million new homes (all tenures) in lifetime of Parliament
  • Ensure infrastructure is in place before homes are delivered
  • Continued investment to deliver “hundreds of thousands” of affordable homes
  • Encourage new market in long-term, fixed-rate mortgages
  • “First homes”: discounted properties for purchase with discount maintained in perpetuity
  • Potential extension of housing association right to buy and other ways of supporting home ownership
  • Ban sale of new leaseholds
  • 1 million new social homes over a decade, 150,000 a year by the end of next Parliament
  • Social rents linked to local incomes
  • More low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers in every area; reform Help to Buy
  • End Right to Buy
  • English Sovereign Land Trust, with powers to buy land more cheaply for low-cost housing and more building on public land
  • Increase housebuilding to 300,000 a year
  • 100,000 new social rent homes a year
  • Devolve control of Right to Buy to councils
  • New Rent to Own model enabling tenants to buy social housing over 30 years
  • Tax penalties on second and overseas-owned homes
 

There is a lot of common ground between the three parties’ plans for housing in England (Westminster does not control housing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland): all include proposals for substantial new housebuilding, greater rights for private and social tenants, action on rough sleeping and homelessness, and on building standards.

On housebuilding, the Conservatives’ plans emphasise making home ownership more affordable, while Labour’s key promise is a million new low-rental council and housing association homes over a decade. The Lib Dems likewise emphasise social rented housing, but at a somewhat lower level of ambition.

On building standards (a prominent aspect of which is fire safety after the Grenfell disaster), Labour’s plans are more specific (e.g. £1 billion fire safety fund). Labour and the Lib Dems make more specific commitments on energy efficiency than the Conservatives.

Affordability aside, the big challenge for all parties, more so for Labour and the Lib Dems, given the scale of their housebuilding and other aspirations, will be deliverability. The land supply, workforce and materials supply implications of boosting construction on the scale proposed are formidable.

At the last count there were around 4,700 rough sleepers in England and Wales – more than double the number in 2010. The government is currently not on track to meet its 2018 target of halving rough sleeping by 2022. Both main parties have set a more ambitious target of ending rough sleeping within the next Parliament, but meeting this will be extremely difficult. Our research shows a previous initiative that succeeded in reducing rough sleeping to the hundreds in the early 21st century relied on cross-government working with strong backing from the prime minister to ensure healthcare, housing, welfare and police services were pulled in the same direction.

Private rented sector
  • Abolish ‘no fault ‘ evictions and enact single lifetime deposit
  • Rent controls, open-ended tenancies, and new, binding minimum standards
  • Scrap landlord checks on immigration status
  • Government-backed deposits for first-time renters
  • Longer tenancies with inflation-linked rents
  • Mandatory licensing of private landlords
 
Homelessness
  • End rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament
  • End rough sleeping within five years
  • 8,000 additional homes for people with history of rough sleeping
  • £1 billion a year extra for council homelessness services
  • End rough sleeping within five years
  • Improvements to benefits, stronger legal duties to protect people sleeping rough and asylum seekers
  • Increased homelessness funding for councils
  • Stronger housing rights for asylum seekers
Rights for social tenants
  • Social housing white paper: stronger regulation, better redress, better quality social housing
  • Stronger say for tenants in management of their homes
  • Resident veto over regeneration
  • Better standards, regulation, redress and tenant voice
 
Building standards and safety
  • Implement findings of post-Grenfell inquiries 
  • Support high rise residents with removal of cladding
  • Local community design standards
  • Encourage energy efficiency and better design
  • £1 billion fire safety fund
  • Zero-carbon homes standard for new homes and upgrades for existing homes
  • End ‘permitted development’ of office blocks for housing
  • New decent homes programme for existing social housing
  • Zero carbon standard for new homes and private rented sector
  • Retrofit programme for existing homes
 

 

Public finances and administration

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Tax
  • Deliver a post-Brexit budget in February to cut taxes for "hard-working families"
  • No increase to rates of income tax, national insurance or VAT
  • Raise national insurance threshold to £9,500 next year; "ultimate ambition" to raise to £12,500
  • Increase the employment allowance
  • Pause planned cut to corporation tax from 19% to 17%; increase rate for R&D tax credits to 13%
  • Introduce new anti-tax avoidance and evasion law, including measures such as doubling maximum prison term to 14 years and strengthening HMRC's resources
  • Reduce business rates and review the system
  • Review and reform Entrepreneurs' Relief

 

  • Reduce income tax threshold for 45% rate from £150,000 to £80,000 and introduce 50% rate from £125,000; abolish the Married Persons Allowance
  • Charge VAT on private school fees; no increase in rates of VAT
  • Increase corporation tax rate to 26% and 21% for companies with low profits; review reliefs; phase out R&D tax credits
  • Align marginal capital gains and dividend tax rates with income tax and eliminate separate allowances
  • Extend stamp duty to more financial transactions
  • Reverse previous cuts to inheritance tax
  • Reverse previous cuts to bank levy
  • New taxes on multinationals, annual tax on second homes
  • Increase all rates of income tax by 1 percentage point; scrap the Married Persons Allowance
  • Increase corporation tax rate to 20% (from 19% at present)
  • Replace business rates in England with a commercial landowner levy
  • Graduate stamp duty land tax by the energy rating of the property
  • Abolish the separate capital gains tax-free allowance 
  • Reform air passenger duty to tax frequent flyers more
  • Reduce tax evasion and avoidance by increasing funding for HMRC, reforming place of establishment rules
  • Demand abolition of the bedroom tax
  • Back a freeze on national insurance contributions and VAT, and a reduction in employers’ national insurance contributions

There are clear differences between the major parties on tax. While the Conservatives have proposed very modest tax changes, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have proposed significant tax increases.

It is welcome that Labour has set out the tax changes it intends to make, but actually raising the amount of revenue its manifesto sets out will be difficult.

Some of the tax measures proposed by the parties – such as Labour's financial transactions tax and a new tax on multinationals, as well as the Lib Dems' proposed land value tax – will be complex to implement.



While Labour’s offer on tax is radical, none of the parties’ tax policies would do much – if anything – to address the significant weaknesses in the UK’s tax system set out in a recent IfG report. Labour's proposal to review existing corporate tax reliefs is welcome but there is also a need for wider review and evaluation of existing tax measures to assess whether the party has achieved its objectives at an acceptable cost.

All parties' fiscal rules are much looser than those pursued by the government since 2015. All parties' rules, which are technically well-designed, would allow a lot more investment spending than the rules they replace.

Both Conservative and Labour parties have also pledged more day-to-day spending, and have costed them within their fiscal rules. For the Conservatives, that means an extra £3bn in 2023/24; for Labour a huge £83bn in that year.

But given other pledges not costed in manifestos, it may not be possible for either party to match their spending commitments while staying within their fiscal rules unless the economy grows more quickly than expected or further tax rises are announced.

Labour has proposed to bring a wide range of outsourced services back in-house by default. Our research found that outsourcing has suffered repeated failures – and in areas like probation, government is right to take back direct responsibility. But in other areas, including waste collection and prisons, outsourcing has delivered benefits, including improved efficiency and innovation. A blanket approach risks throwing potential benefits away.

Labour and the Lib Dems propose several “machinery of government” changes. These could be costly and distract from affected departments’ policy goals. Our research shows the direct costs of creating a new department start at £15 million, with a potentially much greater cost due to lost productivity, and take about two years to be fully up and running. Changing responsibilities can also be a distraction from day-to-day work, which is a particular issue when the new department is expected to deal quickly with a priority issue – such as Labour’s plan to rebrand DWP as DSS and scrap Universal Credit immediately. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiscal rules and institutions
  • Will not borrow to fund day-to-day spending
  • Spend up to 3% of GDP on net investment
  • Reassess plans to keep debt under control if debt interest reaches 6% of revenue
  • Debt to be lower at the end of the Parliament
  • Balance the current budget five years ahead
  • Improve public sector net worth over the course of the Parliament
  • Debt interest costs to be less than 10% of tax revenues
  • Ask the OBR to incorporate climate change and environmental impacts into its forecasts
  • Ensure overall national debt continues to decline as a share of national income
  • Target a structural current budget surplus of 1% of GDP
  • Push for an increase in the capital and borrowing limits to allow more investment in infrastructure
Outsourcing and procurement
  • Encourage the public sector to "buy British" to support farmers
  • Establish a presumption in favour of 'in-house' delivery in local government
  • Assess contractors against best practice public service criteria (e.g. fair wage clauses)
  • Take back all PFI contracts over time
  • Support ‘local sourcing and reshoring’ through procurement
  • Require all companies bidding for public contracts to recognise unions, pay suppliers on time, and show equalities best practice
 
  • Support introduction of effective legal protections to ensure on-time payments for SMEs
Machinery of government changes  
  • Create Department for Women and Equalities
  • Create Department for Housing
  • Create Ministry for Employment Rights
  • Replace DWP with Department of Social Security
  • Create Department for Climate Change and Natural Resources, Chief Sustainability Secretary in the Treasury
  • Remove visa policy making responsibilities from the Home Office
  • Change Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to Digital, Culture, Media, Sport and Tourism
 

 

Economic and other policy

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Industrial strategy, innovation and regional policy
  • Ensure 2.4% of GDP is spent on R&D across the economy
  • Create a new agency for high-risk, high-payoff research
  • Create new freeports that benefit each of the four nations of the UK
  • Amend Companies Act to require companies to prioritise long-term growth
  • Establish a Local Transformation Fund in each English region
  • Create a National Investment Bank, backed by network of Regional Development Banks, to provide £250 billion in lending over 10 years
  • Spend 3% of GDP on research and development by 2030
  • Develop national and local industrial strategies
  • Increase national spending on R&D to 3%, with an interim target of 2.4% no later than 2027, and increase spending outside of London and Oxbridge
  • Reduce basic agricultural support payments to the larger recipients and redeploy to incentivise effective land management
  • Just Transition Fund to support families negatively affected by policies to tackle climate change 
 

UK industrial policy has suffered from a lack of clear definition and constant changes in direction over the last thirty years. The 2017 Industrial Strategy was the third in a decade – and the institutions responsible for industrial policy have changed repeatedly.

At this election, each of the parties has pledged to make significant increases in R&D spending and invest more in the regions, although Labour has set out much larger commitments, with some £400 billion tagged for green investments and social transformation. Some have raised doubts about whether such a large increase in funding could be targeted effectively, although some have argued that it will be difficult to target money effectively. The next government will need to commit to a set of institutions to deliver policies over the longer term.

All parties propose some policies that would strengthen workers’ rights. Minimum wages would increase under both Labour and Conservative governments, although Labour has proposed increasing them by more and more quickly. Labour’s other proposals amount to a radical change in labour market arrangements, including a return to sectoral bargaining and increasing worker ownership and control. The ambition to institute a 32-hour working week within a decade is perhaps most radical. If Labour wants to ensure that its policies have the effects it intends, without other unintended consequences, the devil will be in the detail of their design and implementation.

Workers' rights
  • Create a single body to enforce employment law
  • Enable workers to request a "more predictable" contract
  • Encourage flexible working
  • Reform redundancy law to prevent companies discriminating against women returning from maternity leave
  • Real living wage of £10 hour for over 16s
  • Companies with more than 250 employees to create 'inclusive ownership fund' to give workers up to a 10% stake
  • Workers to make up a third of boards 
  • Increase maternity leave from nine to 12 months and double paternity leave to four weeks
  • Establish Ministry for Employment Rights
  • Introduce sectoral collective bargaining and strengthening rights of self-employed and contract workers
  • Repeal the Trade Union Act 2016
  • Reduce full-time week to 32 hours within a decade with no loss of pay
  • Enforce maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector
  • Restore public sector pay to pre-financial crisis levels in real terms: year-on-year above-inflation pay rises, starting with 5% increase
  • Independent review of living wage and all government departments and agencies to pay living wage 
  • Establish a Worker Protection Enforcement Authority 
  • Require employers to offer flexible working wherever possible
  • Modernise employment rights for gig economy workers
  • Require large companies to have an employee representative on their board and give employees the right to buy shares
  • Increase living wage to at least the level of the real living wage
  • End age discrimination of statutory living wage
  • Increase maternity leave to one year, at 100% of average weekly earnings for the first 12 weeks, then 90% for 40 weeks or £150.00, whichever is lower
  • Increase shared parental leave from 52 to 64 weeks, with the additional 12 weeks to be the minimum taken by the father
  • Back moves to increase worker representation on company boards

 

Data, digital and media

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Data, digital and media
  • Legislate to protect children from online abuse and harms
  • Invest more in cybersecurity, create a new national cyber-crime force
  • Improve quality of evidence and data within government ‘about the types of barriers different groups face’
  • Repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014 requiring publisher of news-related material to pay costs in event of legal claim if they are not a member of an approved regulator
  • Oppose second stage of the Leveson Inquiry
  • Enforce a legal duty of care to protect children online, impose fines on companies that fail on online abuse
  • Create a minister for cybersecurity
  • Create a Charter of Digital Rights
  • Inquiry into fake news
  • Address the issues of misconduct and corporate governance raised by the second stage of the abandoned Leveson Inquiry
  • Protect civil liberties and privacy: end bulk collection of communications data; Lovelace Code of Ethics for personal data and Artificial Intelligence; halt use of facial recognition surveillance by police
  • Citizens' assembly on government use of algorithms
  • Mechanism to allow the public to share profits made by tech companies through use of data
  • Proceed with second stage of the Leveson Inquiry; introduce a Leveson-compliant regulator with oversight of privacy, quality, diversity and choice in print and online media
  • Press for the license fee to be set independently of the UK government
  • Introduce new standards and measures to protect users online, overseen by an independent online regulator funded by a levy on technology companies

All the manifestos cover online regulation. Conservative and Labour commitments don’t go far beyond existing government plans, while both the Lib Dems and SNP propose new regulators with oversight of online content.

Lib Dem proposals on protecting civil liberties and ensuring new technologies are used ethically are much more developed than any other party’s – its plans include involving citizens in deciding how algorithms are used by government, an important step towards improving public trust (Labour’s Charter of Digital Rights might go some way to achieving this, too).

The Conservative manifesto has more to say about the potential benefits of data and technology in government processes, although little detail is offered.

All except the SNP make some commitment to improving cybersecurity – the Conservatives through creating a new national cyber crime force, Labour through creating a minister for cybersecurity and reviewing the powers of the National Cyber Security Centre, and the Lib Dems through investing in the security services to counter cyber attacks.

Labour and the Lib Dems also want to look into press regulation, with a continuation of the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry – or the issues it would have covered – in some form.

 

Infrastructure and environment

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Climate change
  • Reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Establish funds worth over £1 billion to combat marine pollution and invest in nature
  • Invest £4 billion in flood defences
  • Reach 40GW of offshore wind energy production by 2030
  • Invest £1.3 billion in carbon capture and storage and decarbonising energy-intensive industries
  • Invest £9.2 billion in energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals
  • Ban the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries
  • Reach net zero carbon emissions "within the 2030s", with "substantial majority" of reductions by 2030
  • Establish £250 billion Green Transformation Fund
  • Create at least one million unionised jobs as part of Green New Deal 
  • Mandate OBR to incorporate environmental impact into every fiscal decision
  • Change LSE listing criteria to delist "any company that fails to contribute to tackling the climate emergency"
  • Build 7,000 offshore and 2,000 onshore turbines, new nuclear power, and trial tidal energy and hydrogen production
  • Net zero carbon emissions by 2045 – citizens assembly to set out process 
  • Create a Green Investment Bank with £5 billion of initial capital
  • Plant 60 million trees a year
  • Introduce climate risk reporting for companies and pension funds
  • Over £6 billion a year by the end of Parliament on insulation and zero carbon heating
  • £5 billion fund for flood prevention and climate adaptation
  • Every new car and small van electric by 2030
  • Demand the UK accelerates its action to meet Scotland’s climate change targets (75% reduction in emissions by 2035, net zero carbon emissions no later than 2040 and net zero of all emissions by 2045)
  • Campaign for the UK government to bring forward plans to move to electric vehicles to 2032
  • Press for the accelerated deployment of fully operational carbon capture utilisation and storage facilities
  • Support reforms to the UK tax system to support greener choices
  • Campaign for the UK to remain aligned with EU environmental regulations
  • Propose a Green Energy Deal that will ensure renewable energy schemes get the long-term certainty needed to support investment

On climate, Theresa May made reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 a legally binding target, despite the fact that the government is currently not on track to meet its previous target of 80% reductions (on 1990 levels) by the same year. Labour initially approved a 2030-net zero target at its conference in September but this has been watered down to "within the 2030s" in its manifesto. The Conservatives commit themselves to net zero by 2050; the Lib Dems say 2045 while the SNP says 2040. Labour and the Lib Dems have promised large investments, including in renewables and energy efficiency in homes.

The immediate challenge for the next government, ahead of the UK hosting the next world climate summit in December 2020, will be agreeing on an action plan that actually delivers reductions in emissions, while also minimising costs and disruption and commanding popular support.

All parties have ambitious plans for public transport, in particular to build more railways; the principal differences between the parties is who will run the trainsLabour would take operations back into public ownership, while the Lib Dems and Conservatives have set out proposals to reform the existing franchising system which would continue to allow private companies to run lines.

The Conservatives remain in favour of runway expansion at Heathrow. Only the Lib Dems are explicitly opposed, though Labour would review expansion against four tests.

Regardless of ownership, to maximise the benefits from new infrastructure, the next government will have to undertake investment wisely. Our research found that the government does not have a long-term approach to infrastructure, and should strengthen the National Infrastructure Commission and create a cross-government infrastructure strategy to remedy this.

As with infrastructure, the two biggest parties have starkly different approaches on ownership of public utilities. Much speculation has focused on the cost of Labour’s proposals to renationalise water, energy, rail and mail companies. The Conservatives have cited the CBI’s figure of £196 billion, but this analysis has been widely criticised for not taking account of the value of the assets bought. There is a debate about how to fairly value companies – and Labour would need to ensure any payment is seen to be reasonable to avoid damaging investment in the wider economy.

But the key question for the next government, regardless of ownership, is how to ensure public utilities are run effectively and in the public interest. There is agreement across the political spectrum that regulation has not always delivered the innovation and consumer benefits that were promised when utilities were privatised. But returning assets to public ownership is no guarantee of better management either.

Transport
  • Invest £100 billion of additional infrastructure spending, including roads, rail and flood defences
  • Create £4.2 billion fund for new bus and metro rail links in cities outside London
  • End the franchising model and create a simpler rail system
  • Consider findings of Oakervee review of HS2 in light of delays and extra costs
  • Invest £28.8 billion in roads
  • Launch pothole-filling programme
  • Bring railways back into public ownership using options including franchise expiry
  • Cut rail fares by 33%, provide free rail travel for under-16s and build an online booking portal with no booking fees
  • Provide resources and legal powers for councils to regulate or own their bus networks
  • Provide free bus travel for under 25s where councils own their bus routes
  • Reinstate 3,000 bus routes that have been cut
  • Build Crossrail for the north, and deliver a full rolling programme of electrification
  • Complete full HS2 route to Scotland
  • Invest £130 billion in infrastructure, including transport, energy, schools, hospitals and homes
  • Reform franchising by opening bidding to public sector bodies
  • Freeze rail fares for a Parliament
  • Support HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East–West rail, and Crossrail 2
  • £4.5 billion over five years to restore bus routes and add new routes
 
Airports
  • Continue with plans to build third runway at Heathrow
  • Review Heathrow expansion
  • No new runways
  • Reform flight taxes to target frequent flyers
  • Introduce requirement for domestic flights to have zero-carbon fuels
 
Utilities 
  • Keep existing energy cap; introduce new measures to lower bills
  • Roll-out full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025, supported by £5 billion of new funding; introduce legislation within first 100 days
  • Finalise an agreement with mobile phone operators to improve mobile service in the countryside within first 100 days
  • Nationalise supply arms of the 'Big Six' energy companies 
  • Establish UK National Energy Agency to own/maintain national grid and oversee decarbonisation, replace existing operators with 14 regional agencies 
  • Generate 90% of energy and 50% of heat from renewable / low-carbon sources by 2030
  • Upgrade "almost all" of the UK’s 27 million homes to highest energy efficiency standards, introduce zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes
  • Guarantee energy workers retraining and a new, unionised job on equivalent terms and conditions
  • Nationalise water companies
  • Stop Crown Post Office closures; bring Royal Mail back into public ownership at earliest opportunity; create publicly owned Post Bank
  • Provide free full-fibre broadband for every home in the UK by 2030, through part-nationalising BT and taxing multinationals, including tech giants
  • 80% of energy production to come from renewable sources by 2030
  • Programme to install fast-speed broadband, particularly in rural areas
  • Call on the Shared Rural Network to deliver 95% of 4G mobile coverage in Scotland

 

Constitution and Parliament

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Electoral reform
  • Revise parliamentary boundaries to equalise constituency size
  • Introduce identification to vote
  • Introduce measures to stop foreign interference in elections
  • Remove 15-year limit on voting rights of expatriates
  • Reduce the voting age to 16
  • Extend franchise to all UK residents
  • Introduce system of automatic voter registration
  • Allow EU citizens to vote and stand in all UK elections and referendums if they have lived in the UK for five years or longer
  • Allow UK citizens abroad to vote for MPs in separate overseas constituencies
  • Proportional representation through the single transferable vote for MPs and councillors
  • Replace the first-past-the-post voting system with the Single Transferable Vote
  • Extend the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds in all elections
  • Work to extend the franchise for the House of Commons to EU citizens and all those with a right to remain in the UK
  • Establish independent commission for televised TV debates during elections and referendums

Both Labour and the Conservatives have committed to repealing the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA), which governs the calling of an election. There is an ongoing legal debate about whether the FTPA can simply be repealed so that the power to call an election will just revert to being part of the royal prerogative, or whether it needs to be replaced – neither main party specifies its preferred future arrangements. We have previously argued that the FTPA needs reform, but a hasty repeal could create more problems than it solves.

Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP have stated their intention to replace the House of Lords with a democratic chamber. Labour's proposal is intended to better represent the devolved regions and nations in Parliament. Historically, plans for overhauling the Lords have run into trouble once the details are outlined, so this will be a key challenge for the parties.

Brexit has revealed some key tensions in the UK constitution and all UK-wide parties have committed to a wider process of constitutional review and reform. The Conservatives propose a commission to examine these issues, while Labour’s Constitutional Convention would be citizen-led.

Parliament
  • Repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act
  • End hereditary principle in House of Lords
  • Work to abolish House of Lords in favour of elected Senate of the Nations and Regions
  • Repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act
  • Reform the House of Lords with a democratic mandate
  • Give Parliament power over prorogation, ensure any new prime minister must win confidence vote
  • Cap political donations and ban MPs from taking paid lobbying work
  • Abolish the House of Lords
Constitutional reform
  • Establish Constitutional Democracy and Rights Commission to consider inter alia changes to the Human Rights Act and powers of judicial review
  • UK-wide Constitutional Convention to be led by citizens assembly
  • Introduce a written constitution for a federal UK

 

 

Devolution

Area

Conservative

Labour

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

What this means

Scottish independence referendum
  • Oppose future referendum
  • No agreement to a Section 30 order request from Scottish government "in the early years of a UK Labour government"
  • Oppose a referendum on Scottish independence
  • Demand that the next UK government transfers powers to hold a referendum to the Scottish Parliament
  • Demand a second independence referendum in any discussion over a progress alliance
  • If the SNP wins a majority, demand a second independence referendum in 2020, or "at a precise date determined by the Scottish Parliament"
  • Put a future referendum beyond legal challenge by transferring a Section 30 order under the Scotland Act 1998.

The SNP has committed to holding a second referendum on Scottish independence in 2020, but to put the vote “beyond legal doubt”, Westminster will need to devolve the power to allow them to do – this will likely be a condition of future SNP support.

The Conservatives and the Lib Dems have also said that they will oppose a second referendum – but blocking it indefinitely could prove unsustainable and counterproductive, particularly if pro-independence parties get a new mandate for a second vote in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. Labour has said that it would not agree a Section 30 order in the "early years” of government, but it does not rule out doing so in future.

Brexit has put a strain on the Union; we have argued that the UK government needs “a new strategy to make the positive case for the Union, and to work better with the devolved governments”. But the Conservative manifesto makes few new promises on devolution to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland or on its approach to working with the four administrations.

Labour’s central policy is a UK-wide Constitutional Convention to consider the distribution of power and “how nations and regions can best relate to each other”; beyond that, it makes few specific commitments on devolution.

The Lib Dems state their aspiration for a “strong, federal and united United Kingdom” but fail to set out what this would mean for the representation and governance of England. All the parties make a commitment to decentralise decision making in England and grant more powers to local and combined authorities, but the Conservatives state their ambition for "full devolution across England".

Other devolution
  • Work with all sides to re-establish the Northern Ireland executive and Assembly
  • Devolve responsibility for corporation tax to the Northern Ireland executive and Assembly
  • Publish an English Devolution white paper
  • Make directly elected mayors more accountable to councillors and elected officials
  • Re-establish regional government offices
  • Devolve further revenue raising powers to regional authorities, and powers over transport, energy, housing and skills 
  • Extend involvement of the Scottish government and Welsh government in the development of UK-wide policy frameworks – especially drug policy and student visa policy 
  • Create a distinct legal jurisdiction for Wales to reflect the growing divergence in law resulting from devolution 
  • Extend accountability of UK-wide bodies like the BBC and Ofgem to the Scottish Parliament
  • Seek devolution of immigration powers and creation of 'Scottish visa'; drug policy; gambling regulation; tax powers (including national insurance); employment policy; responsibility for broadcasting
  • Demand the UK government match the level of investment made by the Scottish government on city and region deals

 

Other parties

Party

Pledges

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

The Democratic Unionist Party is opposed to Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement, which it argues threatens the integrity of the Union of the UK by placing a border down the Irish Sea. Its domestic polices include increasing spending on healthcare and housing.

Sinn Féin Sinn Féin does not take its seats in Westminster. While it supports remaining in the EU, the party has rejected calls to break its century-old boycott of the UK Parliament. Its wider policies include increased public spending, addressing regional imbalances and making the tax system more progressive
SDLP The SDLP’s manifesto commits to stopping Brexit. It has signalled it would vote in favour of revoking Article 50, a second referendum, continued membership of the single market and customs union, and preventing no deal, and would vote against any attempt to introduce a customs or regulatory border across Ireland. Its other commitments are to restoring power-sharing, opposing privatisation of the NHS, and scrapping the bedroom tax and Universal Credit.
Alliance Party The Alliance Party is opposed to leaving the EU, and is in favour of a second referendum. Failing that, it wants the whole UK to remain in the EU Single Market and Customs Union, or in the worst case, for Northern Ireland to have a ‘special deal’ preserving the Good Friday Agreement. The rest of its manifesto focuses on investing in public services, and finding a solution to the deadlock in Stormont.
Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru seeks to hold a referendum on the Withdrawal Agreement and will campaign to Remain. If the vote is to Leave, the party would seek membership of the EU Single Market and Customs Union. The manifesto calls for devolution of justice, economic development, welfare and culture powers from Westminster to the Welsh Assembly, and powers to borrow up to £5 billion for capital investment.
Green Party

The Green Party’s manifesto pledges to reach reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and invest £100 billion a year by 2030 to deliver a ‘green new deal’. The party supports a further Brexit referendum and increases in NHS spending.

Brexit Party

The Brexit Party is opposed to Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement and advocates what it calls a "clean break Brexit" – leaving with no deal. It has confirmed that it won’t publish a manifesto but the party's website supports policies including electoral reform, investment in public services and increased recycling.

UKIP The UKIP manifesto commits to leaving the EU on 31 January 2020 without a deal. It also wants to cut net migration to below 10,000 per year and stop benefits to foreign nationals resident in the UK until they have paid tax and national insurance for five years.