Conservative Party manifesto 2024: Rishi Sunak’s policies for the general election

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

The Conservatives have set out their pitch to the public in one of Rishi Sunak’s last chances to trigger a comeback in the polls as the country counts down to the general election.

The Prime Minister and his Cabinet have spent the preceding few weeks laying the groundwork for their manifesto announcement and hinting at the policies likely to make the cut in their pledge to the nation.

Mr Sunak took to the stage at Silverstone under a banner reading “clear plan, bold action, secure future” to outline a further 2 per cent tax cut to National Insurance, the construction of 1.6 million homes over the next parliament and an increase of the child benefit threshold.

The Tory leader has faced an uphill battle since announcing a snap summer election on July 4 and is looking to prevent his party from suffering a wipe-out at the hands of Labour, who lead the polls by 20 percentage points.

Below, The Telegraph lists the policies the Prime Minister laid out in the 76-page document and what this means for his chances of re-election.

Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty pose with supporters at the launch of the Conservatives' election manifesto in Silverstone
Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty with supporters at Tory manifesto launch at Silverstone - Benjamin Cremel, Pool Photo via AP

NHS and social care

  • Increase NHS spending above inflation each year

  • Deliver 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors compared to 2023

  • Deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030

  • Drive up productivity in the NHS and move care closer to people’s homes

  • Provide 2.5 million more NHS dental appointments

Headlining the manifesto’s section on health and social care is a pledge to continue to increase NHS spending above inflation in each year of the next parliament.

To boost the NHS workforce, the Tories have vowed to deliver 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors in that time, compared to 2023 levels.

The party is standing by Boris Johnson’s controversial pledge to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030, while investing “proportionately more” in out-of-hospital services overtime.

It has also vowed to drive up productivity in the NHS and move care closer to people’s homes by utilising pharmacies, new and modernised GP surgeries and more community diagnostic centres.

Meanwhile, the party promised to unlock 2.5 million more NHS dental appointments through its Dental Recovery Plan.

The manifesto also states that the Tories are committed to supporting a “high-quality and sustainable social care system”, building on existing investment.

At the next spending review, the party would give local authorities a “multi-year funding settlement to support social care”.


Tax and spending

  • Abolish national insurance payments for 4m self employed

  • Further 2p NI cut for salaried employees

  • Scrap NI entirely “when financial conditions allow”

  • Meet its fiscal rules of public sector net debt falling

  • Reduce public sector net borrowing to below 3 per cent of GDP within five years

  • Abolish Stamp Duty on homes worth up to £425,000

The Tories have put lower taxes at the heart of their manifesto, with a surprise pledge to abolish National Insurance payments for almost all self-employed people.

Mr Sunak said that more than nine in 10 self-employed Brits - some four million workers - would be exempted from the levy under his party’s plans.

But under the Tory plans 7 per cent of the highest earning self-employed workers would continue to pay national insurance.

The party would only abolish the main rate of the levy, which is charged at 6 per cent of self-employed earnings between £12,570 and £50,270.

An upper rate of 2 per cent, which is applied to profits over £50,270, will remain in place.

He said the announcement was “a further downpayment” on the Conservatives’ long-term ambition to abolish the levy entirely.

Employee national insurance would also be cut by a further 2p, taking the tax to 6 per cent by April 2027. The party said this would amount to a total tax cut of £1,350 for the average worker on £35,000.

It also reiterated its “long-term ambition” to scrap the “double tax on work” entirely when financial conditions allow.

The manifesto also includes a pledge to abolish Stamp Duty on homes worth up to £425,000 for first time buyers and to reintroduce the Help to Buy scheme.


Economy

  • Vow not to raise corporation tax

  • Ease burden of business rates for high street, leisure and hospitality firms

  • Keep the VAT threshold “under review”

  • Return the size of the Civil Service to pre-pandemic levels to cut “government bureaucracy”

  • Funnel civil service savings into defence

The Tories said the “only way to give people peace of mind” that the UK can weather further global shocks is to “get borrowing and debt down”.

Therefore, in the next Parliament, the party pledged to continue to meet its fiscal rules of having public sector net debt falling, and for public sector net borrowing to be below 3 per cent of GDP in the fifth year of the forecast.

It said the measures in the manifesto are “fully funded” and “would result in lower borrowing in 2029-30”.

The Conservatives promised to “always be the party of business”, with a vow not to raise corporation tax. They would also “continue to ease the burden of business rates” for high street, leisure and hospitality firms and keep the VAT threshold “under review”.

Meanwhile, the party pledged to cut “government bureaucracy” by returning the size of the Civil Service to pre-pandemic levels, with the savings funnelled into defence spending.


Environment

  • Water bosses to lose bonuses if their firm commits serious criminal breach

  • Invest water company fines in river restoration projects

  • More affordable housing for local people in rural areas

  • Empower councils to manage the growth of holiday lets

  • Expand the UK’s Blue Belt marine conservation scheme

  • No new restrictions on fox hunting

To combat the sewage crisis blighting Britain’s waterways, the Tories would work with the regulator, Ofwat, to hold companies to account, including banning bonuses for bosses if their firm has committed a serious criminal breach. Proceeds from water companies fines would be used to invest in river restoration projects.

The party would cut red tape that “holds back the planting of trees in the planning system”, identifying suitable areas where permits can be streamlined.

It would maintain its “record flooding funding” of £5.6 billion over 2021-2027 and champion rural communities by backing farmers with a new legal target for food security.

And it would “always stand up for farmers when negotiating new trade deals”.

Rishi Sunak said his party would back farmers with a new legal target for food security
Rishi Sunak said his party would back farmers with a new legal target for food security - Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The Conservatives would boost the availability of affordable housing for local people in rural areas, while ensuring councils have the powers they need to manage “the uncontrolled growth of holiday lets”.

Rishi Sunak has also vowed not to introduce any new restrictions on fox hunting after Labour said it would ban all forms of hunting with hounds if he wins.

He promised not to make any changes to the Hunting Act introduced by Sir Tony Blair in 2004, in a pitch to traditional Tory heartlands.

The Tories would consult UK overseas territories on further expanding the Blue Belt programme, the UK’s flagship marine conservation scheme.

And the party remains committed to banning the import of hunting trophies and tackling puppy smuggling and livestock worrying.


Energy and net zero

  • Cut consumers’ costs by taking a “more pragmatic approach” to the transition

  • Lower green levies on household bills

  • Put forward a vote in parliament for any new net zero target

  • No new green levies or frequent flyer charge

  • North Sea licensing rounds to continue annually

  • Treble Britain’s offshore wind capacity and support solar energy “in the right places”

The Tories’ central pledge on net zero is to cut the cost for consumers by taking a “more pragmatic approach” to the transition, with green levies on household bills lower in each year of the next parliament than they were in 2023.

The “next stage” of the roadmap would be put to a vote in Parliament, with any new target subject to “proper consideration of the plans and policies required”, in order to “maintain democratic consent for the big decisions that net zero will mean for our country”.

The party would reform the Climate Change Committee, giving it an “explicit mandate to consider cost to households and UK energy security” in its future advice.

It also ruled out creating any new green levies or a frequent flyer charge.

North Sea licensing rounds would continue on an annual basis, in contrast to Labour’s policy. Meanwhile, the Tories would aim to treble Britain’s offshore wind capacity and support solar “in the right places” - crucially “not on our best agricultural land”.

It also pledges to look at burying pylons underground and guaranteeing a parliamentary vote on the next stages of the “pathway” of net zero.


Education and childcare

  • Ban mobile phones during the school day

  • Ensure parents see what their children are being taught in schools

  • Transform post-16 education with new ‘Advanced British Standard’

  • Create 100,000 apprenticeships by 2029

  • New teachers in priority areas to get bonuses of up to £30k tax-free over five years

The Tories would ban mobile phones during the school day and ensure parents can see what their children are being taught, especially on “sensitive matters like sex education”.

The party would aim to “transform” post-16 education by introducing a new Advanced British Standard, bringing together academic A-levels and technical T-levels.

It has also pledged to create a further 100,000 apprenticeships by 2029, paid for by scrapping “poor quality” degrees.

Both primary and secondary schools would be required to deliver two hours of PE every week. To boost recruitment, new teachers in priority areas and sought-after subjects would receive bonuses of up to £30,000 tax-free over five years from September 2024.

The Prime Minister’s flagship campaign promise to bring back national service also features in the manifesto.

Under the mandatory scheme, 18-year-olds would have to enrol in the military for a year or spend one weekend each month volunteering in their community.


Defence

  • Bring back National Service for school leavers

  • Increase military budget to 2.5 per cent of GDP by end of the decade

  • £3 billion in support every year for Ukraine until 2030

  • Introduce a Veterans’ Bill that gives employers tax breaks for hiring them

In his first major policy announcement of the election campaign, Mr Sunak vowed to bring back national service for school leavers, which would open military placements to 30,000 youngsters with residential stays at army barracks or other military facilities.

The Conservatives hope the policy will set them apart from Labour as they seek to present themselves as the only party that can be trusted with the UK’s security and defence with multiple threats facing Britain and the world.

Mr Sunak previously warned in a speech in May that a Labour victory represented a threat to UK security.

The Prime Minister announced his party will hike the military budget to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of the decade - a commitment Labour has failed to match.

He also committed to at least £3 billion in support every year for Ukraine until 2030, with both pledges reinforced in the election manifesto.

In a major speech at the Policy Exchange think tank on May 13, Mr Sunak argued that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, would be emboldened by Labour not matching his promise to raise defence spending to 2.5 per cent by 2030.

It comes with concerns having been raised about the size of the Army, Navy and Air Force and their struggle to attract enough new recruits.

In a tribute to Armed Forces personnel, Mr Sunak will also introduce a Veterans’ Bill to give employers tax breaks for hiring “heroes who have put their lives on the line” and cut the price of rail travel for them.

Elsewhere, the Tories pledged to declare China a risk to UK security on a par with Russia and Iran if they win the election.

They have committed to adding China to the “enhanced tier” of the UK’s foreign influence registration scheme, meaning all Chinese individuals acting on behalf of the nation would face heightened scrutiny.


Pensions and welfare

  • ‘Quadruple lock’ state pension that will never be taxed

  • Keep winter fuel payments, free TV licences and bus passes for pensioners

  • Crackdown on Britain’s welfare bill

  • Overhaul sick notes to get more people back into work

  • Tougher sanctions for those who are able to seek work but choose not to

Mr Sunak declared on May 27 that the state pension will never be taxed under the Conservatives as he unveiled a so-called quadruple lock.

The manifesto also promises to keep all other pensioner perks including winter fuel payments, free TV licences and bus passes in place.

It adds: “We are carefully considering the Ombudsman report into WASPI women and will work with Parliament to provide an appropriate and swift response.”

At the same time it takes a completely different approach when it comes to benefits, with a crackdown on Britain’s ballooning welfare bill set out.

The manifesto includes an overhaul of sick notes to get more people back into work and tougher sanctions for those who are able to seek work but choose not to.


Policing and crime

  • Tougher sentencing for knife crime

  • Build four new jails by 2030, providing 20,000 extra prison places

  • Recruit an extra 8,000 police officers

  • New mandatory 25-year sentences for domestic abuse murders

  • New police powers to ban protests that pose a risk of serious disorder

  • Ban protests outside schools

The election campaign will see Mr Sunak and Sir Keir battle it out for who can sound the toughest when it comes to cracking down on crime.

Labour has banged the drum on lower-level offences like burglary and antisocial behaviour, painting a picture of a lawless Britain where neighbourhoods live in fear.

The Prime Minister has come under pressure to match that rhetoric with harsher sentences for petty criminals and more community payback schemes.

His manifesto includes a crackdown on knife crime with tougher sentencing, allowing the Tories to target Sadiq Khan’s record in London.

The Tories also pledge to build four new jails by 2030, providing 20,000 extra prison places so that more criminals can be locked up for longer.

The dossier also includes a commitment to recruit an extra 8,000 police officers dedicated specifically to tackling neighbourhood crime in a £650 million plan that would take the total number of officers in the UK to its highest level ever at 180,000.

And it states that the Tories will “toughen up community sentencing by increasing the use of community payback and electronic tagging, so criminals pay their debt to society and communities witness justice being served”.

Elsewhere it contains new mandatory 25-year sentences for domestic abuse murders and commits to a wider review of homicide sentencing which could lead to the creation of US-style first and second-degree murder, increasing the minimum sentence for murders in the home from 15 to 25 years.

The manifesto also says police will get new powers to ban protests or marches that pose a risk of serious disorder. Chief constables would be able to block marches due to the “cumulative” disruption and “persistent” threats to public order. Police could also be able to recover the costs of policing protests from groups that organised them.

Protests outside schools would also be banned to “stop mobs from intimidating teachers and children”. Teachers would be given legal protection from blasphemy accusations following cases such as the Batley school cartoon row where a teacher was forced into hiding.

Police and prosecutors would be placed under a new legal duty to publish regular guidance on the statements, chants or symbols, such as, the swastika or the term “jihad”, that in the context of political protest may constitute an offence.


Migration

  • Bring in a “binding, legal” annual cap on immigration

  • Annual vote in Parliament on the visa cap figure

  • Legal migrants must undergo a health check before getting a visa

  • Raise skilled workers salary requirements in line with inflation each year

  • Remove illegal migrants to Rwanda, with monthly flights, starting in July, until the boats are stopped

  • Sign further returns deals similar to the agreement with Albania

Mr Sunak has been under huge pressure from his own MPs to go into the next election on a cast-iron promise to dramatically cut net migration.

The manifesto includes a commitment to bring in a “binding, legal” annual cap on immigration visas but does not say at what number it would be set.

Instead Parliament would get an annual vote on the visa cap figure, which would be recommended by the Government’s migration advisers.

Legal migrants would be required to undergo a health check before getting a visa as part of a plan to reduce the cost to the NHS of those arriving with conditions.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to raise the salary requirements for skilled workers in line with inflation every year “to make sure they don’t undercut UK workers”.

On stopping the small boats, it says: “We will run a relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants to Rwanda with a regular rhythm of flights every month, starting this July, until the boats are stopped.”

The manifesto also commits the Government to “sign further returns deals like the one we have already agreed with Albania”.

It also says the party will work with other countries to “rewrite” asylum treaties to make them fit for the “challenges” of illegal migration.

But it stops short of pledging a referendum on leaving the European Convention on Human Rights, as demanded by some Tory MPs.

Instead it only opens the door to the possibility of leaving the convention by vowing to put the security of UK borders ahead of membership of a foreign court.


Levelling-up

  • Give 30 towns across UK £20 million each

  • Create more freeports and continue backing investment zones

  • Revitalise high streets by changing planning laws

  • Make chewing gum manufacturers pay for street cleaning

Mr Sunak has pledged to give 30 towns across the UK £20 million each in an expansion of the party’s levelling-up policy.

The Prime Minister claimed the methodology used to select the towns – including Tamworth, Bognor Regis, Flint, Perth and Newry – had been used “multiple times before” based on “levelling-up needs, looking at economic opportunity, skills, health and life expectancy”.

He claimed towns were “neglected” under a previous Labour government and added: “I’m not going to make any apology for supporting towns.

“Crucially, it will be local people in all those areas that are in charge of how to spend that money, to make sure it’s spent and invested on their priorities - an example of us levelling up everywhere, backing local people and their priorities, and giving them the long-term funding and assurance to do so,” he said.

The manifesto also includes pledges to create more freeports, where businesses get tax breaks for investing, and to continue backing investment zones.

Elsewhere it features a commitment to revitalise high streets by changing planning laws and making chewing gum manufacturers pay for street cleaning.

“We will change planning laws to support places to bring back local market days and regenerate defunct shopping centres,” it says.

Advertisement