Onward’s impact on the 2019 manifesto

2019-12-11T14:58:12+00:00 December 11th, 2019|Research|

Since we launched, Onward has published 15 research reports, held over 60 events, hosted 25 Cabinet Ministers and grown our young people’s network to around 1,000 under-35s. You can read more in our impact statement here. But our real impact comes in the form of political support for our policies. In this year’s general election, we saw Onward’s ideas gain considerable political traction.

Here are a number of policies in the Conservative Manifesto that drew on Onward’s work:

Our fiscal rules mean that public sector net investment will not average more than 3 per cent of  GDP, and that if debt interest reaches 6  per cent of revenue, we will reassess our plans to keep debt under control.

In Firing On All Cylinders, written by Neil O’Brien MP, we recommended that: “The current set of fiscal rules and the plan to reduce debt sharply should be replaced with a single more expansive fiscal rule – to keep debt to GDP falling gently in normal times.”

A Conservative Government will give the public services the resources they need, supporting our hospitals, our schools and our police… In his first months in office, Boris Johnson announced an extra £14 billion in funding for schools… we are backing our police, putting 20,000 more officers on the streets.

In Firing On All Cylinders, we recommended that “The 2019 Spending Review must aim to meet some of the key pressures in the public services. In particular, it should return school spending to its 2015 record level of real spending per pupil and keep it at that record level. It should provide for sustained recruitment into the police and growth in officer numbers.”

We will raise the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 next year – representing a tax cut for 31 million workers.

In Firing On All Cylinderswe recommended that “National Insurance cuts might be a better candidate to help people on low incomes. Because the threshold for National Insurance Contributions (NICs) is lower than that for Income Tax, increasing the threshold for National Insurance is likely to be more progressive than increasing the income tax Personal Allowance further.”

We will help pay for this by bringing in a stamp duty surcharge on non-UK resident buyers.
In Reforming Stamp Duty, we wrote: “We propose a three per cent stamp duty surcharge (in addition to the new five per cent surcharge for non-main residence buyers already suggested above) for non-UK resident buyers of residential property.”
We will create a prisoner education service focused on work-based training and skills. We will improve employment opportunities for ex-offenders, including a
job coach in each prison
In Unlocking a better life, we wrote: “We recommend that Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) redesigns the process from the moment a prisoner sets foot in a prison to the moment they leave with employment in mind… Prisons should have much closer links to the local labour market through the creation of Employer Councils for every prison… prison officers should be trained on a wider role to steward prisoners to employment.”
We will amend planning rules so that the infrastructure – roads, schools, GP surgeries – comes before people move into new homes.
In Green, Pleasant and Affordable, we showed how “When communities are planned, infrastructure can be planned properly too. For example, in a new city like Milton Keynes, no-one needs to live on a noisy arterial road. In many new towns and cities in Europe, trams, cycleways and super-efficient district heating schemes are plumbed in before any homes are built. These sorts of infrastructure cannot be bulldozed through a development if they are not implemented first.”
We will give city regions the funding to upgrade their bus, tram and train  services to make them as good as London’s.
In The Politics of Belonging, we wrote: “The management of regional infrastructure, in particular, should be decentralised to regional mayors and local authorities, as exists in London and as Transport for the North have argued for.
We will establish a £150 million Community Ownership Fund to encourage local takeovers of civic organisations or community assets that are under threat – local football clubs, but also pubs or post offices.
In The Politics of Belonging, we wrote: “Local people should have first right of refusal to take over and run local institutions, such as post offices, nurseries and libraries, when they are faced with closure, with similar funding and support as exists for parents and teachers establishing Free Schools.”
We will introduce tougher sentencing for the worst offenders and end automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes.
In Super-prolific criminals we recommended: “We should review sentencing of prolific offenders with a view to creating a clearer expectation of longer and more certain prison sentences for prolific offenders. This could involve returning the ideas of minimum sentences and “earned release” which Conservatives promised in opposition.”
We also will continue to explore ways to tackle the problem of grade inflation and low quality courses [in Higher Education].
In A Question of Degree, we argued that ministers should “protect students and taxpayers by reducing the flow of students into low value university courses” and “divert students into either higher value university courses or graduate level technical education.”
We will ensure that £500 million of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is used to give disadvantaged people the skills they need to make a success of life.”
In Human Capital, we argued that “certain places are particularly affected due to high concentrations of low skills and certain types of jobs…. The Shared Prosperity Fund, due to be announced later this year, should be directed at local areas facing high levels of automation risk and industrial decline.”