The Conservatives look set to form the next Government, extending their period in office for another five years.
The number one priority of the new Government is to deliver Brexit as Boris Johnson has said repeatedly during the campaign: “Get Brexit done, and we can focus our hearts and minds on the priorities of the British people.” The Conservatives have promised to start putting its withdrawal agreement through Parliament before Christmas, with a view to formally leaving the EU in January and then negotiating a free trade deal.
Beyond the Brexit focus, the Conservatives have promised a triple tax lock, ruling out increases in the headline rate of income tax and National Insurance, as well as VAT, for five years. The national insurance threshold will be raised to £9,500 in 2020, with an ambition to raise it further to £12,500.
Spending commitments will be far-ranging and include committing to an additional £250 million a year, for at least 3 years, on childcare plus a £250 million capital spending boost, for “wraparound” childcare – meaning after school or during holidays.
For pensioners, the Government will keep the triple lock on the State Pension, the winter fuel payment, the older person’s bus pass and other pensioner benefits. Free TV licenses for over-75s will be kept and the Conservatives have stated its intention for the BBC to fund these.
On the politically sensitive issue of social care, the Conservatives promised in their manifesto to develop a long-term solution. This ambition will be supported by a three-point plan, which will include £1 billion extra of funding every year in addition to a seeking a cross-party consensus and a guarantee that no one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it. Spending on the NHS will increase with promises to recruit and train 50,000 more nurses and deliver 50 million more GP surgery appointments a year.
Measures to tackle climate change are a priority with the Government promising in the first budget to prioritise the environment, research and development investment, decarbonisation schemes; new flood defences, which will receive £4 billion in new funding over the coming years; electric vehicle infrastructure including a national plug-in network and Gigafactory; and clean energy.
Other major spending commitments include:
- a new National Skills Fund of £600 million a year for five years
- building “Northern Powerhouse Rail” between Leeds and Manchester and investing £28.8 billion in strategic and local roads
- £6.3 billion for upgrades to homes, such as grants for improving boilers and insulation
On the personnel front, it looks as though Sajid Javid will remain as Chancellor along with the majority of the Cabinet appointed by Johnson in July, although it is likely we will witness some junior ministerial changes in the coming days and weeks.
Parliament is due to return on Tuesday 17 December and over the coming days and months more detail about the policy priorities will be released. This will include a Queens Speech, to open the new Parliament, and in all likelihood an Emergency Budget.