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Synopsis of key policy pledges for science and engineering

27 Nov 2019

Our guide to 2019 manifesto pledges from the three largest UK-wide parties

Following our analysis of manifestos from the three largest UK-wide parties, we have decided to put together a handy synopsis of where they stand on the key issues relating to science and engineering. The parties all have fairly consistent views on increasing UK research intensity, but have differing visions on how to support innovation, a future immigration system and education policy.

Pledges to support R&D investment

 Key policy/policies
ConservativePledge to increase research intensity to 2.4% of GDP. Although it is unclear, it appears the party has recommitted to reach this target by 2027.
LabourThe Party has pledged to increase research intensity to 3% of GDP by 2030.
Liberal DemocratsLib Dems have pledged to increase research intensity to 3% but with no associated timeframe. They have committed, however, to meet an interim target of 2.4% by 2027 and produce a roadmap at the earliest possible date.

Measures to support innovation

 Key policy/policies
ConservativeIncreasing R&D tax credits to 13% and review eligible activities.Introduce a new agency for high-risk, high-payoff research agency at arms-length from Government.
LabourAbolition of the Patent Box and R&D tax credits for large corporate organisations in favour of direct funding of innovation.
Liberal Democrats‘Doubling’ innovation spending.Increase funding for the Strength in Places funding.

The future vision for immigration

 Key policy/policies
ConservativeEnd Freedom of Movement.Introduce an ‘Australian-style’ points based immigration system focused on ‘high-skilled’ individuals with a job offer.Introduce a post-study work visa for international students.’Fast tracked’ visas for small numbers of science and technology professionals.
LabourExplore the opportunity to retain free movement between the UK and EU should the UK leave the EU.
Liberal DemocratsMaintain Freedom of Movement by remaining in the EU.Overhauling the Tier 2 visa system and create “a more flexible merit-based system”.Remove visa powers from the Home Office and give them to BEIS and DfE respectively.Introduce a post-study work visa for international students.

Headline education policy

 Key policy/policies
ConservativeA £2bn increase to Further Education fundingIncrease teacher starting salaries to £30,000
LabourFree education for all up to Level 3; and six years free education from Levels 4 – 6. This policy includes scrapping university tuition fees in England.
Liberal DemocratsIntroduce a £10,000 ‘Skills Wallet’ for every adult in England, to be used to cover the costs of training courses throughout adult life.Invest £1bn in Further Education

Read our analysis of other party’s policies here