13 Pledges From The Last Tory Manifesto Which Have Been Broken – Or Just Ignored

How many Tory pledges from 2019 have been broken?
How many Tory pledges from 2019 have been broken? Getty

Rishi Sunak just unveiled the Conservatives’ latest manifesto in an effort to win over the public at the upcoming general election.

But, as the prime minister makes a new set of promises, it’s worth considering how many of the party’s previous pledges from the 2019 general election have been ignored – or broken – over the past five years.

Here’s 13 times the Tories have failed to live up to their own promises since the public last went to the ballot box.

1. Renter’s reform

The Tories promised to abolish “no fault” evictions.

More than 90,000 renters have been threatened with these Section 21 notices since the Conservatives first made this promise five years ago.

The Renters Reform bill meant to reform this has been repeatedly delayed and diluted amid Tory concerns that it could alienate landlords.

This legislation was dropped when Sunak called the election.

2. Tax

The Tories promised not to increase rates of income tax, National Insurance or VAT.

The tax burden has risen to a 70-year high under the Tories. Sunak also took National Insurance to its highest ever rate in April 2022.

3. Housing

The Tories promised to build 300,000 a year by the mid-2020s.

The Tories have fallen short of this promise, with 234,397 net additional new homes built in 2022/23 – similar to the year before.

The prime minister also admitted in a tense interview with the BBC this week  that it was “harder” for first-time buyers under the Tories.

4. Immigration

The Tories promised overall numbers would fall.

In 2019, the net migration was 226,000. It is now 685,000, having fallen only slightly from the 2022 historic high of 764,000.

5. Social care

The Tories promised nobody would need to sell their homes to pay for care.

Ministers diluted this pledge in 2021, when the wording was altered to “fewer people selling their houses”.

The scheme to cap the amount people spend on their personal care to £86,000 has been pushed back to 2025, although it was expected to be introduced in 2023.

6. Triple lock

The Tories promised to raise the state pension every year by whichever is highest: inflation, average wages or 2.5%.

This pledge was suspended in 2021/2022 because earnings appeared to increase rapidly during the pandemic – but actually that was just because workers returned to full-time employment after furlough.

7. Foreign aid

The Tories promised to commit 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development.

Sunak cut the spending target to 0.5% when he led the Treasury.

He said it was a “tough” decision because the UK was facing record borrowing. He claimed the change would be “temporary” but that change is yet to be reversed.

8. Homelessness

The Tories promised to end rough sleeping “for good”.

In autumn 2022, there were 3,069 people sleeping homeless on just one night.

By autumn 2023, that had increased to 3,898 sleeping homeless on one night.

Ministers were considering allowing police to fine homeless people over smells earlier this year, but changed their minds after Tory pushback.

9. NHS

The Tories promised to build 40 new hospitals over the next decade.

Only 10 of those supposed 40 new hospitals have full planning permission and several projects do not have any planning permission at all.

The Public Accounts Committee in November 2023 found “extreme concerns” over”lack of progress”.

10. Climate

The Tories promised to reach net zero by 2050.

While this pledge is technically still intact, Sunak has watered down other green pledges since getting into office, including delaying the phase-out of gas boilers.

The Tories also revealed plans to press ahead with the UK’s first new coal mine in 30 years in 2022.

The UK’s High Court has also ruled that the government’s current net zero strategy needs to be redrafted because it currently does not have enough detail.

Sunak watered down green pledges in September.
Sunak watered down green pledges in September. JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images

11. LGBTQ+ rights

The Tories promised to ban conversion therapy.

The (baseless) practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity was first brought in by Theresa May in 2018.

While this was not included in the 2019 manifesto at the time, Johnson did promise to end conversion therapy while on the campaign trail.

However, it has been repeatedly delayed – and the UK is falling down the rankings of LGBTQ+ friendly countries across Europe.

12. Regional equality

The Tories promised to introduce “levelling up” around the country, with a new Manchester to Leeds rail line.

The decision to axe all of HS2 – the high speed rail – outside of the London to Birmingham route was criticised for going against levelling up.

And just 10% of the funding the Conservatives vowed to spend in 2019 has been spent so far, according to the Public Accounts Committee.

Meanwhile inequality has worsened, with life expectancy in Liverpool being at 58, compared to 70 in parts of Berkshire.

13. Brexit

The Tories promised to get Brexit done.

The UK has technically left the EU since the last election.

But Brexit is not done for those in Northern Ireland, as trade rows over the region continue.

It is still in the EU’s single market, despite being part of the UK, and that is testing the Tory promise that NI goods would have “unfettered” access to Britain after Brexit.

These trade concerns meant the Northern Ireland Assembly did not sit for two years. It finally came together again earlier this year, but every time a new EU trade law comes in, it continues to test the unity of Stormont.

PM Boris Johnson vowed to
PM Boris Johnson vowed to "get Brexit done" via Associated Press