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Half of Conservative manifesto pledges yet to be delivered – new IfG analysis

The government is yet to deliver around half of its 2019 manifesto promises – and many of those it has made progress on are the ‘easy wins’, according to new analysis by the Institute for Government following the local election results.

Published yesterday, on the eve of the 2021 Queen’s Speech, Taking Stock of the Conservative 2019 Manifesto: Has the government lived up to its promises? assesses government progress on the measurable promises in its 2019 manifesto. While nearly half (137) of the 287 pledges we examined have been completed or are on track to be completed, there are 55 pledges the government has yet to tackle, a further 15 – including GP recruitment, cross-party consensus on social care and net zero – which the IfG deems to be at risk of failure, and four abandoned altogether.

However, despite the pandemic the government has made progress on a number of pledges: the flagship pledge to ‘get Brexit done’ has been ticked off with the UK’s departure from the EU and it has stuck – so far – to its tax commitments. However, the IfG report shows that most of the completed pledges have been ‘easy’ wins: publishing white papers, allocating funds, launching consultations, and avoiding changes to existing policies.

Many of its unfulfilled pledges will be much more difficult to deliver. The promises to “urgently” seek a cross-party solution to social care, and to accelerate the devolution of power across England lack substance, and there is no clear strategy for the government’s levelling up agenda. Policies to achieve the net zero target have yet to be introduced, and the government has not explained how it plans to “restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates”, now that its planned constitution, democracy and rights commission appears to have been superseded by a series of separate reviews.

The report also examines the impact of the pandemic on the manifesto and finds that key commitments on improvements to public services have been knocked off course. These include boosting GP numbers, speeding up prosecutions of knife crime offenders and lifting cancer survival rates.

Report author Sarah Nickson said:

“Manifestos matter, and this government has said it wants to be judged against its performance on manifesto promises. However, it has yet to tackle a long list of difficult pledges from its 2019 manifesto. Recent steps – like reviving the No. 10 delivery unit and launching a ‘levelling up’ white paper – are positive developments, but the Queen’s Speech is the moment for the government to show how it will deliver on its promises.”

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