The Tory manifesto ‘Forward Together’ was published earlier today. Some of the main points are as follows (it is 84 pages long, so we will not pretend that it is exhaustive).

5 challenges

Overall, the Conservatives aim to address 5 ‘giant’ challenges: i) the need for a stronger economy; ii) Brexit and a changing world; iii) enduring social divisions; iv) an ageing society; v) fast-changing technology.


  • Deficit reduction. This will continue over the next parliament and the aim is for a balanced budget by the middle of the next decade.
  • Income taxes. The personal allowance will rise to £12,500 and the 40% rate will start at £50,000, both as previously promised. Note that there is no commitment to NOT raising tax or NIC rates (including Level 4 contributions!).
  • Commitment to no increases in VAT.
  • Corporation tax. Still due to fall to 17% by 2020.
  • Full review of business rates system.
  • Simplification of the tax system (this can hide a multitude of different measures if adhered to).
  • National Living Wage. Commitment to raise NLW to 60% of median earnings by 2020 and subsequently in line with median earnings.

Corporate issues

  • Controls to prevent foreign ownership that might undermine security or essential services.
  • Legislation to ensure shareholders have strict controls over executive pay packages.
  • Listed companies will have to ensure that employees’ interests are ‘represented’ e.g. a director is nominated from the workforce or a formal employee advisory council is established etc. in listed companies.
  • Govt to ensure that investment in R&D matches OECD average of 2.4% of GDP in 10 years, with a long-term goal of 3.0%.
  • 33% of central government purchases to be sourced from SMEs by the end of the next Parliament.
  • Work with industry to establish ultra-deep port to support nuclear decommissioning industry.


  • Net migration to the UK cut to the tens of thousands annually (students will still be included in the numbers).
  • Migration Advisory Committee to determine how visa strategy can meet needs of industry.
  • Immigration Skills Charge to be doubled on companies employing migrant workers by end of parliament to £2000 per annum.


  • HS2, Northern Powerhouse, Rail and Heathrow expansion to go ahead.
  • Creating extra capacity on the railways.


  • No second Independence Referendum before Brexit has ‘played out’.


  • The manifesto noted that the PM laid out 12 principles in developing a new relationship with the EU at the turn of the year.
  • Repeated the mantra that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.
  • Confirmed that the UK will leave the EU Single Market and the Customs Union.
  • Great Repeal Bill to be passed to ensure legal continuity once Britain has left the EU.

Other international

  • Maintain commitment to spending 0.7% of GDP on international aid.
  • Defence budget to meet NATO commitment of 2% of GDP and to rise by at least 0.5% in excess of inflation in every year of the new Parliament.


  • Boundary review to proceed. This will reduce the number of MPs by 50 to 600 (and will help the Tories as the current system favours Labour).
  • First past the post system for Westminster elections to continue.


  • Will lift ban on establishment of selective schools.
  • Redistribute funding across schools to address criticism that current system is unfair. Extra £4bn to be made available by 2022.


  • Safeguard tariff cap to be introduced.
  • Smart meters to be introduced to all homes by 2020.

Ageing Society

  • State pension ‘triple lock’ to be downgraded to ‘double lock’. Level will increase by the greater of CPI inflation and average earnings – there is no longer a minimum rise of 2.5%.
  • Various changes to social care funding rules e.g. setting capital floor at £100,000 (currently £23,250).


  • NHS spending to be raised by minimum of £8bn in real terms over 5 years – this will deliver real increase per head in every year of the next parliament.


  • Will meet 2015 commitment to build million extra homes by 2020 and an extra half a million more by end-2022.
  • Government to build 160,000 homes on public sector land.
  • £2.5bn flood defence programme continued.

Digital Charter

  • Government will establish a digital charter underpinned by law. This could include a levy from media companies, similar to that in the gaming industry.

Philip Shaw, Economist

18 May 2017

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