What you need to know about the Tory election manifesto

Rishi Sunak launches the Tory manifesto at Silverstone on Tuesday. (PA) (James Manning/PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak pledged to halve immigration and unveiled a £17bn package of tax cuts as he fought to keep his place in Downing Street.

With Labour’s poll lead remaining around 20 points, the Tory leader sought to get the party’s campaign back on track with the launch of his general election manifesto at the Silverstone motor racing circuit on Tuesday.

He acknowledged people were “frustrated” with him and admitted the Tories “have not got everything right”. But the Conservatives “are the only party in this election with the big ideas to make our country a better place to live”, the prime minister added.

Here, Yahoo News UK sets out the key pledges made in the manifesto.

What they say: “A future where hard work and doing the right thing is always rewarded, not punished with higher taxes.”

What it means: Sunak is promising a further 2p cut to national insurance.

It builds on successive 2p cuts in the autumn statement and spring budget. That means a 6% cut to national insurance by April 2027 under a Sunak administration. It’s a key aspect of the Tories’ “long-term ambition" to eventually scrap national insurance.

For the self-employed, meanwhile, the main rate of national insurance would be abolished by the end of the next parliament, according to the manifesto.

The document also promises no increases to income tax or VAT.

Read more: Do the sums add up in Tory tax-cut manifesto? (The Guardian)

What they say: "We will also take immediate steps to support more people onto the housing ladder. We will ensure the majority of first-time buyers pay no stamp duty at all, lowering the upfront costs of buying a first home.”

What it means: In an offer to first-time buyers, the Conservatives have said they will abolish stamp duty up to the value of £425,000.

What they say: "We will deliver a secure future for communities by giving more people a better chance of living where they would like – near their family, friends and job."

What it means: The manifesto pledges 1.6 million homes will be built in England over the next five years.

The Tories say a Sunak administration will achieve this with measures such as fast-tracking building on brownfield land in urban areas and abolishing "legacy EU nutrient neutrality rules".

Meanwhile, the manifesto promises a new Help to Buy scheme which would provide first-time buyers with an equity loan of up to 20% towards the cost of a new build home.

Read more: Rishi Sunak admits it is ‘harder’ to buy a house under Tories (The Independent)

What they say: "We will continue to do everything we can to provide pensioners with dignity in retirement and ensure the new state pension is not dragged into income tax for the first time in history."

What it means: The Tories have pledged a policy, billed as the “triple lock plus”, which would see a rise in the threshold at which pensioners have to pay income tax – so that even if the state pension increases, it will never rise above the income tax threshold.

Read more: Higher share of pensioners pay income tax than working people for first time, says IFS (The Telegraph)

What they say: “We will reinvent national service for this century to give young people valuable life skills and build a stronger national culture.”

What it means: National service would be compulsory for every 18-year-old. People would have two choices:

  1. Civic service: volunteering in the community for 25 days a year alongside work or study. The manifesto says roles could include special constable, NHS responder or RNLI volunteer.

  2. Military service: a year-long full-time paid placement in the armed forces or cyber defence.

Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, arrive for the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto. (PA)
Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, arrive for the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto. (PA) (James Manning/PA Wire)

What they say: “In April, we raised the threshold at which individuals begin to lose child benefit from £50,000 to £60,000 and halved the rate at which it is withdrawn. This is the right thing for families and the right thing for the economy. But it still isn’t fair that single earner households can start losing their child benefits when a household with two working parents and a much higher total income can keep it in full. We will end this unfairness."

What it means: High earners would be able to keep more of their child benefit, with the high-income child benefit tax charge threshold raised to £120,000 – and charged to households rather than individuals. The Tories say this would benefit 700,000 families.

What they say: “Immigration is too high. We want to attract the brightest and best skilled migrants to the UK to contribute to our businesses and public services. We must bring migration numbers down to sustainable levels to reduce the impacts on public services and housing and to restore public confidence in the system.”

What it means: The manifesto pledges a binding cap on legal migration based on work and family visas. It says this would fall every year over the course of the next parliament and “cannot be breached”. There would also be an annual parliamentary vote on the level of the cap.

Net migration was estimated to be at 672,000 in the year to June 2023, compared to 219,000 at the last general election in 2019.

Rishi Sunak has vowed to 'halve migration' and then reduce the number 'every single year' if the Conservatives are re-elected. (PA)
Rishi Sunak has vowed to 'halve migration' and then reduce the number 'every single year' if the Conservatives are re-elected. (PA) (James Manning/PA Wire)

What they say: “The Conservatives are the only party with a plan to stop the boats and reduce the strain that illegal migration places on our communities and public services.”

What it means: The manifesto promises, starting in July, a “regular rhythm” of deportation flights every month to Rwanda.

This was a policy first announced by the Tories in April 2022 but has yet to come into effect. Sunak, meanwhile, would not say how many asylum seekers would be deported "because we don’t want to compromise operational security".

The manifesto also pledges to clear the asylum backlog, with all claims processed in six months and the use of hotels ended.