Election 2017

Reality Check: What do manifestos say about productivity?

Extracts from manifestos

Productivity is a measure of how much stuff is getting produced for each hour that people work and it's enormously important.

Improvements in living standards and average earnings tend to come from increased productivity.

In the UK, productivity has only just returned to its pre-crisis level. But it is still almost a fifth lower than in the rest of the G7 advanced economies and almost a third lower than in France the US and Germany.

So what are some of the parties planning to do about it?

Conservative Manifesto - seven mentions of productivity

The Conservative plan for productivity is mainly the introduction of a National Productivity Investment Fund.

Solving the productivity puzzle is tricky - there's no definite way of doing it, but the Tories plan to spend money on housing, research and development, economic infrastructure and skills.

The specifics are £740m on digital infrastructure (that's things like broadband), £1.1bn to improve local transport, £250m on skills training by the end of 2020 and more investment in railways.

The spending is all meant to add up to £23bn by the end of the parliament, but there are no other details of what it will be spent on.

Labour Manifesto - two mentions of productivity

Labour's solution to the productivity problem is via its industrial strategy.

It has undertaken by 2030 to:

  • Get 60% of energy from zero carbon or renewable sources
  • Develop the highest proportion of high-skilled jobs among OECD countries
  • Spend 3% of GDP on research and development

It plans to promote skills through its National Education Service and improve infrastructure by investing £250bn in it over the next decade.

Liberal Democrats - no mentions of productivity

The LibDem manifesto does not specifically mention productivity, but it's promising investment in many of the same areas as the Conservatives and Labour.

It's planning to:

  • Help build 300,000 homes a year by 2022
  • Have a major programme of capital investment aimed at stimulating growth across all areas of the UK
  • Install hyperfast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK
  • Investment in road and rail infrastructure
  • Bring more private investment into renewable energy
  • Put £5bn of initial capital into a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank.

Green Party - no mentions of productivity

There's nothing about productivity in the Green manifesto, but the big idea is the introduction of a four-day working week up to a maximum of 35 hours.

Caroline Lucas told the Andrew Marr Show last month: "I think there's a lot of evidence that suggests that when people are exhausted their productivity goes down."

Everyone would be assured a living wage and the Greens would also take steps towards the introduction of a universal basic income.


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