A side-by-side comparison of the Labour and Conservative manifestos across key policy areas.

The Labour and Conservative manifestos are, between them, 216 pages long. So it’s fair to assume that the majority of voters have not scrolled through them. And it’s even fairer to assume they haven’t done so for more than one party. By categorising the Labour and Conservative manifestos across some of the key major policy areas, I hope readers and voters are able to quickly find the issues they care about, and compare the manifesto promises side-by-side.


Income tax

Labour: No rises in tax for those earning below £80,000/year.

Conservative: Increase the tax-free threshold to £12,500 (currently £11,500). Increase the higher rate (40%) to £50,000 (currently £45,000)


Labour: No increase.

Conservative: No increase

National insurance contributions

Labour: No increase.

Conservative: No increase

Corporation tax

Labour: 19% in 2017–18 to 21% in 2018–19, 24% in 2019–20 and 26% in 2020–21. This would return the rate to its 2011 level. Reinstate the lower small-business corporation tax rate - if below £300,000,- 20% in 2018–19, rising to 21% in 2020–21.

A rate of 26% would still leave the UK with the lowest rate in the G7

Conservative: Keep it on track to fall to 17% by 2020 (currently 19% for all companies). No lower small-business tax rate.


NHS Funding


  • Commit over £30 billion in extra funding over the next Parliament.
  • Reverse privatisation of our NHS and return our health service into expert public control.
  • Repeal the Health and Social Care Act and make the NHS the preferred provider.
  • Reinstate the powers of the Secretary of State for Health to have overall responsibility for the NHS.
  • By guaranteeing access to treatment within 18 weeks, will take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next Parliament.
  • Fund free parking in NHS England for patients, staff, and visitors — by increasing the tax on private medical insurance premiums.
  • Halt pharmacy cuts.
  • Introduce a new legal duty on the Secretary of State and on NHS England to ensure that excess private profits are not made out of the NHS at the expense of patient care.


  • Set up a new £250 million Children’s Health Fund.
  • Publish a new childhood obesity strategy within the first 100 days, with proposals on advertising and food labelling.
  • Introduce a new Index of Child Health to measure progress against international standards, and report annually against four key indicators: obesity, dental health, under-fives and mental health.
  • Implement the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, commonly known as the ‘sugar tax’.


  • Increase NHS spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years.
  • Recover the cost of medical treatment from people not resident in the UK.
  • Ensure that new NHS numbers are not issued to patients until their eligibility has been verified.
  • Increase the Immigration Health Surcharge, to £600 for migrant workers and £450 for international students, to cover their use of the NHS.

Labour: Deliver the Cancer Strategy for England in full by 2020, helping 2.5 million people living with cancer.

Conservative: Deliver the new promise to give patients a definitive diagnosis within 28 days by 2020.

Mental health


  • At a cost of £90 million per year — will ensure access to a counselling service is available for all children in secondary schools.
  • Invest in early intervention by increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people.


  • Recruit up to 10,000 more mental health professionals.
  • Invest £1 billion in mental health services by 20/21

Note — since 2010 the number of mental health nurses has fallen by 6,600, according to figures released to Labour by health minister Philip Dunne last October.

  • We will introduce mental health first aid training for teachers in every primary and secondary school by the end of the parliament and ensure that every school has a single point of contact with mental health services.
  • Every child will learn about mental wellbeing and the mental health risks of internet harms in the curriculum.
NHS Staff


  • Immediately guarantee the rights of EU staff working in our health and care services.
  • Scrap the NHS pay cap.
  • Re-introduce bursaries and funding for health-related degrees.
  • Make it an aggravated criminal offence to attack NHS staff.


  • Will make it a priority in negotiations with the European Union that the 140,000 staff from EU countries can carry on making their vital contribution to our health and care system.


School funding


  • Create a National Education Service (NES) for England — free education for every child and adult, at the point of use (like NHS)
  • Reverse the Conservatives’ cuts — putting £150 million back into supporting our children in schools by scrapping the Conservatives’ plans for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy.


  • Increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022

Note — the Institute of Fiscal Studies (an independent thinktank) has said — “Taking account of forecast growth in pupil [numbers], [the £4 billion increase] equates to a real-terms cut in spending per pupil of 2.8% between 2017–18 and 2021–22. Adding this to past cuts makes for a total real-terms cut to per-pupil spending of around 7% over the six years between 2015–16 and 2021–22.

School Meals

Labour: Introduce free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees.

Conservative: We do not believe that giving school lunches to all children free of charge for the first three years 3 of primary school is a sensible use of public money, so schools in England will offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school.

School systems


  • Oppose any attempt to force schools to become academies.
  • Reduce class sizes to less than 30 for all 5, 6 and 7-year olds.
  • Abandon plans to reintroduce baseline assessments and launch a commission to look into curriculum and assessment, starting by reviewing Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs.


  • Introduce new funding arrangements so we can open a specialist maths school in every major city in England.
  • Replace the inclusivity rules that prevent the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools, instead requiring new faith schools to prove that parents of other faiths and none would be prepared to send their children to that school.
  • Lift the ban on the establishment of selective schools.
  • Will expect every 11-year old to know their times tables off by heart.


  • Consult on introducing teacher sabbaticals and placements with industry.
  • End the public-sector pay cap.
  • Reintroduce the Schools Support Staff Negotiating Body and national pay settlements for teachers.


  • Offer forgiveness on student loan repayments while they are teaching.
  • Create a single jobs portal, like NHS Jobs, for schools to advertise vacancies in order to reduce costs and help them find the best teachers.
Tuition fees

Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees.

Workers’ rights

Minimum wage

Labour: Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) — for all workers aged 18 or over.

Conservative: Continue to increase the National Living Wage (£7.50) to 60%of median earnings by 2020 and then by the rate of median earnings.

Self-employment / Zero hour contracts


  • Change the law to assume a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise.
  • Extend the rights of employees to all workers, including shared parental pay.
  • Impose punitives on employers not meeting their responsibilities
  • Involve trade unions in enforcement.
  • Give the Ministry of Labour the resources to enforce all workers’ rights.
  • Ban payroll companies, sometimes known as umbrella companies, which create a false structure to limit employers’ tax liabilities and limit workers’ rights.
  • Give employment agencies and end-users joint responsibility for ensuring that the rights of agency workers are enforced.
  • Roll out sectoral collective bargaining and strengthening trade union rights.


  • Will await for the final report from a review into the labour market led by Matthew Taylor.

Industrial strategy

Infrastructure investment


  • Create a National Transformation Fund that will invest £250 billion over ten years in upgrading our economy.


  • Launch a £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund - targeted at housing, R&D, economic infrastructure, and skills.
  • Invest £40 billion into transport improvements across the UK over the rest of this decade
Transport infrastructure


  • Complete the HS2 high-speed rail line from London through Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, and then into Scotland.
  • Link HS2 with other rail investments, such as Crossrail of the North (tying together northern cities) and on to the Durham Freight Centre.
  • Build a new Brighton Main Line for the South East.
  • Build Crossrail 2 in London.
  • Complete the Science Vale transport arc, from Oxford to Cambridge through Milton Keynes and deliver rail electrification and expansion across the whole country, including Wales and the South East.
  • Bring private rail companies back into public ownership as their franchises expire.


  • Continue HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, and the expansion of Heathrow airport.
  • Invest £1.1 billion “to improve local transport”
  • Invest £600 million by 2020 in electric vehicle technology.
Digital Infrastructure


  • Deliver universal superfast broadband availability by 2022.
  • Expand provision of free public wi-fi in city centres and on public transport.
  • Improve 4G coverage and invest to ensure all urban areas, as well as major roads and railways, have uninterrupted 5G coverage.


  • Invest £740 million in digital infrastructure.
  • Introduce a full fibre connection voucher for companies across the country by 2018
  • By 2022 we will have major fibre spines in over a hundred towns and cities, with ten million premises connected to full fibre and a clear path to national coverage over the next decade.

Labour: Create a National Education Service (NES) for England — free education for every child and adult, at the point of use (like NHS)

Conservative: Invest £250 million in skills by the end of 2020.


Labour: Create an innovation nation with the highest proportion of high-skilled jobs in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development by 2030 — we will meet the OECD target of 3% of GDP spent on research and development by 2030.

Conservative: Ensure we meet the OECD average for investment in R&D (2.4% of GDP) within 10 years, with a longer-term goal of 3%


Business rates


  • Introduce a package of reforms to business rates — switching from RPI to CPI indexation.
  • Remove new plant and machinery from business rate calculations.
  • Review extending the £1,000 pub relief business rates scheme to small music venues.

Conservative: Will make longer term reforms to the system to address concerns about the way it currently works.

Company law


  • Amend company law so that directors owe a duty directly not only shareholders, but to employees, customers, the environment and the wider public.
  • Legislate to reduce pay inequality by introducing an Excessive Pay Levy on companies with staff on very high pay.
  • Scrap quarterly reporting for businesses with a turnover of under £85,000.
  • Will aim to double the size of the co-operative sector in the UK, and will introduce a “right to own,” making employees the buyer of first refusal when the company they work for is up for sale.