Skip to content

Green Party manifesto 2024: Key policies analysed

BBC A graphic of Green Party co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian RamsayBBC

The Green Party of England and Wales have launched their 2024 election manifesto. The document sets out what the party’s plans would be, should it win the election on 4 July.

Here BBC correspondents have analysed the main pledges.

Big NHS investment

The cash injection being promised by the Greens into the NHS is huge. In the first year, they say they will increase the budget in England by £8bn. It is currently £165bn. And by 2030 there will be £28bn more. There will be more for public health too, delivered by councils.

To put that into context, the Liberal Democrats are only promising £8bn a year more for health by the end of the Parliament, while the Conservatives have limited their promises to above inflation increases.

The Green Party manifesto promises quicker access to NHS dentistry and GPs and reductions in the hospital waiting list. But the money will also be needed for one of its more unique proposals: a commitment to restore pay for junior doctors. That requires a 35% pay increase, something none of the other parties seem prepared to do.

Health is devolved so these policies would apply to England only.

Tax on assets over £10m

The Green Party manifesto proposes to raise up to £151bn a year in new taxes by 2029. This would be a very large increase, equal to around 4.5% of GDP.

One of the big components of this is a new tax on the weathy, which they say would raise about £15bn. This would be levied at 1% a year on the assets of people with more than £10m and 2% on those with more than £1bn.

Some tax experts are doubtful this would raise as much as the Greens’ costings suggest, saying many wealthier people who are resident in the UK have only tenuous ties with the UK and could leave to avoid it.

However, Arun Advani of Warwick University, who was part of the Wealth Tax Commission, judges the idea of raising a sum from a wealth tax similar to that claimed by the Greens to be “economically credible”.

This would apply to the whole of the UK.

Tax rise for earners on more than £50,270

The Green Party’s proposal on National Insurance is to charge the basic 8% rate on income above what’s called the Upper Earnings Limit.

If you pay higher-rate tax at 40% on some of your pay, you are in a small minority of the population who earn more than the higher-rate threshold of £50,270 a year. It is currently about 5.8 million people out of the total population of 67 million – less than a tenth.

It is a minority that’s expanding rapidly because of the 2021 decision to freeze income tax and National Insurance thresholds so that they do not rise in line with earnings or inflation. Since then, wages have risen rapidly but the thresholds haven’t, dragging more and more taxpayers above them to pay a higher rate of tax. Had those thresholds risen as before, there would now be only 3.9 million people exposed to the Green Party’s proposal – a little over a tenth of the workforce.

But instead there are now 5.8 million – about 15%. And that is set to grow to 6.7 million, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. The Greens say that if you earn £55,000, the additional amount you pay under their proposals would be less than £6 per week and if you earn £65,000, it would be about £17 a week.

This would apply to the whole of the UK.

Scrap university tuition fees

The Greens are making a renewed pledge to scrap university tuition fees.

The party say they would “fully fund” every student and bring back maintenance grants. It is an expensive promise. It also comes at a time when universities are worried about their finances. Fees for UK students haven’t kept up with costs, and the number of higher-paying international students is predicted to fall.

The party says it would scrap “high-stakes testing” in schools and abolish their regulator, Ofsted. And there is a pledge to boost funding for schools by £8bn, including £2bn for teachers’ pay.

Spending per pupil currently sits, in real terms, at around the same level it did in 2010. With schools’ costs projected to rise by 4% in 2024 and teachers’ pay for September at the top of the next education secretary’s to-do list, head teachers will be keen to dig into the detail.

Education is devolved so these policies would only apply in England

Net zero by 2040

The Green Party say they want to reach net zero – when the UK is adding no additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – by 2040 at the latest. That is, most analysts would agree, an extremely ambitious target.

By comparison, the Conservatives and Labour both aim to get to net zero by 2050. The Lib Dems and SNP have set a 2045 target while the Reform Party says it will scrap the ambition completely.

But getting to net zero will be even more challenging for the Greens because unlike the other parties, they want to phase out nuclear power, currently about 15% of the UK’s electricity.

The Greens say they will achieve their goal thanks in large part to a huge rollout of renewable power. They propose a big expansion of offshore wind, as do the main parties. Where the Greens plan to go significantly further is with a massive growth in onshore wind and solar power. But that would likely generate strong local opposition. Many communities do not like to see solar panels covering farmland or wind turbines sprouting on hillsides.

This would apply to the whole of the UK.

VAT-free culture and Leveson Inquiry part two

The Green Party say they would invest £5bn in community sports, art and culture in England over five years, and remove VAT from cultural activities across the UK. But there is no detail on where that money would come from.

On media policy, the Greens want to tighten laws so that no individual or company owns more than 20% of a media market. This comes after a Saudi Arabian businessman bought a 30% stake in Independent Digital News and Media, the owners of the Independent, in 2017.

The party also wants to move forward with the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards – that investigation to explore the relationship between journalists and the police has never happened. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour support proceeding, although the Liberal Democrats also put it in their manifesto. Campaigners who demand what they call a “free and accountable press” say it is vital.

The Greens have also proposed a Digital Bill of Rights that takes a cautionary approach to AI that would be in alignment with Europe and other international bodies.

BBC experts analyse other manifestos

Dismantle Trident, stay in Nato

The Greens call for sweeping reforms of Britain’s defence and foreign policies but the radicalism is often tempered by some more mainstream positions. The party would dismantle Britain’s entire Trident nuclear deterrent and remove all foreign nuclear weapons from UK soil. But the party would also keep the UK in the Nato military alliance, saying it has “an important role in ensuring the ability of its member states to respond to threats to their security”.

On the war in Gaza, the Greens would end UK military co-operation with Israel, reinstate funding for a UN agency for Palestinian refugees, and support international investigations into war crimes’ allegations against Israel. But it would also push for a ceasefire, the release of hostages and a long-term settlement to bring security to both sides.

The Greens would re-join the EU “as soon as the domestic political situation is favourable”. But it would seek to re-enter the Customs Union first and restore the free movement of people, especially students.

Naturally, much of their global focus is on climate change. The party would spend 1% of national income on foreign aid and 1.5% on climate finance. But like a rising number of countries in the West, its focus would be on giving emerging economies a greater say over how the money is spent.

This would apply to the whole of the UK.

Free personal care

The Green Party’s plan of “investing to mend” includes an additional £20bn to tackle the crisis in adult social care. It is a big chunk of money, so inevitably there will be questions about whether the sums add up, and whether the country could afford that level of spending.

The Greens claim increasing taxes on the wealthiest and a carbon tax would raise up to £150bn a year to fund a range of promises. The party argue that putting more into early support for older and disabled people at home or in care homes would take pressure off the NHS.

Like the Lib Dems, they would make personal care free – so that is support with daily tasks like washing, dressing and medication. It would be similar to the system already operating in Scotland. The care system is struggling with increasing demand and staff shortages, so it is notable that these two smaller parties have made investing in social care an important part of their manifesto offers.

In contrast, the two main parties have had remarkably little to say on the subject so far.

Social care is devolved so these policies would apply to England only.

Frequent flyer levies and short-haul flight bans

The Green Party says “we need to reduce how much we fly, and we need to do it fairly”. What this means in practice is a frequent flyer levy “to reduce the impact of the 15% of people who take 70% of the flights” and a stop to all airport expansion plans.

The party will also ban domestic flights for journeys that would take less than three hours by train and would also make airlines pay VAT on jet fuel – at the moment they do not pay any VAT on kerosene.

The Greens also plans an economy-wide carbon tax – a charge on any activities that produce carbon dioxide – that they say would also apply to airlines.

Some of these policies may sound a little familiar. The Lib Dem manifesto also contained a commitment to impose a levy on frequent fliers, to ban the shortest-haul flights and restrict airport expansion.

Rent controls and no-fault evictions ban

Two key elements of the Green Party’s housing policy align with the Scottish Green Party’s experience of being in government in Scotland until April. Any MPs elected for the Greens will campaign for councils to be allowed to impose rent controls as well as banning no-fault evictions. In Scotland, the SNP/Scottish Greens coalition introduced a 3% rent cap for private tenancies and a moratorium on evictions, with limited exceptions.

Rent controls are popular with tenants but landlords argue they lead to fewer, poorer quality homes being available as owners can not afford to invest. The Conservatives also promised to ban no-fault evictions, but failed to get the legislation passed before Parliament was dissolved.

The Greens also promised to campaign to build 150,000 social homes a year in England and end Right to Buy. Building that number of social homes has not been achieved for decades; between 2019 and 2023 for instance, just 30,000 homes for social rent were built across England.

Housing is devolved so these policies would only apply in England.

Nationalise railways, water and energy big five

The Greens say they will nationalise the companies that run our railways, our water companies and the big five energy companies. That has long been their policy, but sounds a lot less outspoken now than it might have done a few years ago.

Following Margaret Thatcher’s privatisations of British Steel, British Petroleum and British Airways, John Major’s government of 1990-1997 continued with the coal industry, energy industry and British Rail. Accepting the view that privatisation meant efficiency, Labour PMs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown embraced similar principles with the Private Finance Initiative, under which the government had contracts with the private sector to finance, build and maintain hospitals, roads and prisons. The 2010-2015 Tory-Lib Dem coalition government continued to privatise.

Since then, some poorly run private companies have been propped up with public money to stop them going bust, from Railtrack, the company that owned the railway lines, to LNER and Southeastern train operators more recently. In 2022/23 the government spent about £67bn subsidising energy companies to charge lower bills, something they could not have done without the government.

Water companies have been criticised for extracting big dividends while failing to invest, resulting in sewage leaks. And PFI, condemned by MPs as providing poor value for money for the taxpayer, was ditched by Theresa May’s government in 2018.

Election banner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *