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Manifesto Analysis 2024: Liberal Democrats

10.06.24 | Written by Cathal Kavanagh

Taking a brief break from a campaign which has so far seemed more akin to an adventure holiday, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey this morning launched the party’s manifesto for the 2024 general election (titled ‘For A Fair Deal’).

The traditional third party in the UK’s basically two-party system, the Lib Dems have had a hard time getting their message heard over the course of the last parliament, with far fewer seats than the SNP meaning they get fewer questions at PMQs. The evaporation of Brexit from the political agenda – the party’s greatest mobilising issue since the Iraq War – has also left the party a little adrift in recent times, seeking to reclaim momentum as the main anti-Conservative party in large parts of southern England in particular.

Following years of strong performances at local authority elections – often with campaigns centred on planning and development issues – the Lib Dems are primed to win dozens of seats from the Conservatives on 4 July, despite the party’s vote share not budging since 2019. Combined with the SNP’s travails in Scottish polling, Davey’s party has a strong chance to return to being the third largest party in Westminster, and to position itself to receive disaffected Labour voters into its lap once the incoming government starts to generate scandals of its own.

Many development sector eyes will be on the party’s housing policy, following intense, protracted debates on the issue at recent party conferences. A pledge to increase building of new homes to 380,000 a year across the UK, including 150,000 social homes a year, will be welcomed by the more ‘YIMBY’ elements of the party.

Likewise, a pledge to return the UK to the European single market will motivate anti-Brexit voters who have been dismayed at the lack of attention paid to European issues in the national conversation.

The main pledges from ‘For A Fair Deal’ have been summarised below by Scarlet Margaroli:


  • Invest in green infrastructure, innovation and skills to boost economic growth and create good jobs and prosperity in every nation and region of the UK, while tackling the climate crisis.
  • Repair the broken relationship with Europe, which acts as a brake on the economy and costs the UK investment, jobs and tax revenue.
  • Foster stability, certainty and confidence by managing the public finances responsibly to get the national debt falling as a share of the economy and ensure that day-to-day spending does not exceed the amount raised in taxes, while making the investments our country needs.


  • Aim to make Britain one of the most attractives places in the world for businesses to invest. 
  • Private enterprise is the principal engine of growth and prosperity in the UK. We will support it by creating a stable business environment with smart regulation and investing in skills, infrastructure, research and innovation
  • We will make the UK a world leader in ethical, inclusive new technology, including artificial intelligence, and a global centre for the development, manufacture and export of clean technologies.
  • Fix the skills and recruitment crisis by investing in education and training, including increasing the availability of apprenticeships and career advice for young people.
  • Boost productivity and empower more people to enter the job market – such as parents, carers and disabled people
  • Boost small businesses and empower them to create new local jobs, including by abolishing business rates and replacing them with a Commercial Landowner Levy to help our high streets.
  • Introduce a general duty of care for the environment and human rights in business operations and supply chains.


  • Liberal Democrats are committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045 at the latest.
  • Drive a rooftop solar revolution by expanding incentives for households to install solar panels, including a guaranteed fair price for electricity sold back into the grid.
  • Appoint a Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury to ensure that the economy is sustainable, resource-efficient and zero-carbon, establish a new Net Zero Delivery Authority to coordinate action across government departments and work with devolved administrations, and hand more powers and resources to local councils for local net zero strategies.


  • Improve early access to mental health services by establishing mental health hubs for young people in every community and introducing regular mental health check-ups at key points in people’s lives when they are most vulnerable to mental ill-health.
  • Guarantee access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care, ending DIY dentistry and ‘dental deserts’.
  • Help people to spend five more years of their life in good health by investing in public health.


  • Create a social care workforce plan, establish a Royal College of Care Workers to improve recognition and career progression, and introduce a higher Carer’s Minimum Wage.
  • Establish a cross-party commission to forge a long-term agreement on sustainable funding for social care.
  • Develop a digital strategy to enable care users to live tech-enabled lives.


  • Put a dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every primary and secondary school, making sure all children and parents have someone they can turn to for help, funded by increasing the Digital Services Tax on social media firms and other tech giants.
  • Increase school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation every year, and end the scandal of crumbling school and college buildings by investing in new buildings and clearing the backlog of repairs.
  • Create new Lifelong Skills Grants, giving all adults £5,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives, and aim to increase them to £10,000 in the future when the public finances allow.


  • Give parents genuine flexibility and choice in the crucial early months by doubling Statutory Maternity and Shared Parental Pay to £350 a week and introducing an extra use-it-or-lose-it month for fathers and partners, paid at 90% of earnings.
  • Make all parental pay and leave day-one rights, and extend them to self-employed parents.


  • Set a target of ending deep poverty within a decade, and establish an independent commission to recommend further annual increases in Universal Credit to ensure that support covers life’s essentials, such as food and bills.
  • Tackle child poverty by removing the two-child limit and the benefit cap.


  • Restoring proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and focused on preventing and solving crimes – especially rape and other violent crime.
  • Creating a new statutory guarantee that all burglaries will be attended by the police and properly investigated.
  • Investing in the criminal justice system to tackle the backlog of court cases and ensure swift justice.


  • End the sewage scandal by transforming water companies into public benefit companies, banning bonuses for water bosses until discharges and leaks end, and replacing Ofwat with a tough new regulator with new powers to prevent sewage dumps.
  • Set meaningful and binding targets to stop the decline of our natural environment and ‘double nature’ by 2050: doubling the size of the Protected Area Network, doubling the area of most important wildlife habitats, doubling the abundance of species and doubling woodland cover by 2050.
  • Plant at least 60 million trees a year, helping to restore woodland habitats, increase the use of sustainable wood in construction, and reach net zero.
  • Pass a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organization guidelines, enforced by a new Air Quality Agency.
  • Strengthen the Office for Environmental Protection and provide more funding to the Environment Agency and Natural England to help protect our environment and enforce environmental laws.


  • Introduce a holistic and comprehensive National Food Strategy to ensure food security, tackle rising food prices, end food poverty and improve health and nutrition.
  • Accelerate the rollout of the new Environmental Land Management schemes, properly funding it with an extra £1 billion a year to support profitable, sustainable and nature-friendly farming.
  • Support farmers properly in restoring woodland, peatland and waterways, creating new natural flood protections and managing land to encourage species recovery and carbon storage, while producing food for the table.


  • Increasing building of new homes to 380,000 a year across the UK, including 150,000 social homes a year, through new garden cities and community-led development of cities and towns.
  • Delivering a fair deal for renters by immediately banning no-fault evictions, making three-year tenancies the default, and creating a national register of licensed landlords.
  • Giving local authorities, including National Park Authorities, the powers to end Right to Buy in their areas.
  • Ending rough sleeping within the next Parliament and immediately scrapping the archaic Vagrancy Act.
  • Abolishing residential leaseholds and capping ground rents to a nominal fee, so that everyone has control over their property.


  • Tackle the funding crisis facing local authorities, including by providing multi-year settlements, boosting the supply of social housing, and forging a long-term, cross-party agreement on social care.
  • Give communities more control over the number of second homes and short-term lets in their areas.
  • Ensure local authorities have the powers and resources they need to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, as set out in chapters 5 and 12.
  • Ensure that gigabit broadband is available to every home and business, including in rural and remote communities, and support local bespoke solutions so that no property is left out.
  • End the top-down reorganisation of councils and the imposition of elected mayors on communities who do not want them.


  • Make it cheaper and easier for drivers to switch to electric vehicles by rapidly rolling out far more charging points, reintroducing the plug-in car grant, and restoring the requirement that every new car and small van sold from 2030 is zero-emission.
  • Boost bus services by giving local authorities more powers to franchise services and simplifying funding, so that bus routes can be restored or new routes added where there is local need, especially in rural areas.
  • Transform how people travel by creating new cycling and walking networks with a new nationwide active travel strategy.
  • Give more of the roads budget to local councils to maintain existing roads, pavements and cycleways, including repairing potholes.
  • Invest in research and development to make the UK the world leader in zero-carbon flight, and take steps to reduce demand for flying.
  • Significantly extend the electrification of Britain’s rail network, improve stations, greatly improve disabled access, reopen smaller stations and deliver Northern Powerhouse rail.


  • Protect the BBC, S4C, BBC Alba and Channel 4 as independent, publicly owned, public service broadcasters.
  • Promote creative skills, address the barriers to finance faced by small businesses, and support modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules.
  • Negotiate free and simple short-term travel arrangements for UK artists to perform in the EU, and European artists to perform in the UK.
  • Boost participation in sports and physical activity by investing in leisure centres, swimming pools and other grassroots facilities and supporting community sports clubs.


  • Transfer policy-making over work visas and overseas students out of the Home Office and into other departments.
  • Scrap the Conservatives’ Illegal Migration Act and their Rwanda scheme, uphold the Refugee Convention, and provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees, helping to prevent dangerous Channel crossings.
  • Lift the ban on asylum seekers working if they have been waiting for a decision for more than three months, enabling them to support themselves, integrate in their communities and contribute to the economy.


  • Develop and implement a comprehensive Race Equality Strategy to address deep inequalities, including in education, health, criminal justice and the economy.
  • Give everyone a new right to flexible working and every disabled person the right to work from home if they want to, unless there are significant business reasons why it is not possible.
  • Scrap the Conservatives’ draconian anti-protest laws, restoring pre-existing protections for both peaceful assembly and public safety, and immediately halt the use of live facial recognition surveillance by the police and private companies.


  • Ensure no politician can take you for granted, by introducing proportional representation by the Single Transferable Vote for electing MPs, and local councillors in England.
  • Strengthen democratic rights and participation by scrapping the Conservatives’ voter ID scheme and giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote.
  • Take big money out of politics by capping donations to political parties.


  • Reversing the Conservative Government’s cut to the Army, with a longer-term ambition of increasing regular troop numbers back to over 100,000.
  • Maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent with four submarines providing continuous at-sea deterrence, while pursuing multilateral global disarmament.
  • Controlling arms exports to countries with poor human rights records.


  • Fix the UK’s broken relationship with Europe, forge a new partnership built on cooperation, not confrontation, and move to conclude a new comprehensive agreement which removes as many barriers to trade as possible.
  • Restore the UK’s reputation as an international development superpower, by returning spending to 0.7% of national income and re-establishing an independent international development department.

If you have any questions about the Liberal Democrats’ pledges, or the general election more broadly, do get in touch at [email protected]

As part of our General Election coverage Cratus Group will be summarising key policy commitments and political priorities of each of the major parties as we draw closer to July 4th.

Manifesto Analysis: Liberal Democrats 1