The ten candidates for the job of Conservative leader – and Britain’s next Prime Minister – are setting out their vision for Britain.
The candidates have been keen to show that they have bold new policy ideas, but some of them sound a lot like things that have already been announced. Let’s take a look.
Rory Stewart’s National Citizen Service
Mr Stewart said he would “launch a National Citizen Service” on the day he becomes Prime Minister.
He said it would involve 16-year-olds going on a two-week education workshop, then spending another two weeks working on a community project.
Mr Stewart, who briefly served as an infantry officer before entering politics, said the training would not be military and the emphasis would be on bringing people from different backgrounds together.
David Cameron launched a similar initiative with exactly the same name in 2010, and more than 400,000 young people have taken part so far.
Mr Stewart clarified later that, while the existing scheme is voluntary, his version of the National Citizen Service would be compulsory.
Matt Hancock’s living wage raise
Mr Hancock said he would increase the full-time hourly National Living Wage – that’s the minimum wage for over-25s – to £10.21 an hour by 2022, giving workers an extra £3,500 a year compared to today.
But the living wage is already scheduled to go up to £9.19 by 2022 anyway, seeing annual incomes rise by £1,911.
So compared to existing plans for 2022, Mr Hancock’s pledge would actually see workers on the NLW just under £2,000 better off, according to FactCheck’s calculations. Not a trivial sum, but rather less than the £3,500 boost he’s suggested.
And there’s a further twist: the government has already indicated an ambition to raise the National Living Wage to the level Mr Hancock pledges – if not a firm promise.
In the 2018 Budget, the Treasury said “The government has an aspiration to end low pay” which it said was defined as earnings below “two-thirds” (i.e. 66 per cent) of median earnings.
The Chancellor Philip Hammond reiterated the pledge in May, and is due to confirm his plans in this autumn’s Budget.
If he does follow through, the government’s policy will match exactly the rise being promised by Matt Hancock.
Michael Gove’s ‘national cyber-crime taskforce’
Mr Gove said: “One of the problems with our police is that increasingly, so much of their time is devoted to pursuing crime online and sometimes even ludicrously, pursuing people who use their free speech on Twitter to say what they oughtn’t to say…
“But local communities deserve local police that are concentrating on local priorities. So I will create a new national cyber-crime taskforce to ensure that local police do what they should – respond to local people’s desire to make sure that local priorities come first.”
This sounds an awful lot like something that already exists: the National Online Hate Crime Hub, a unit that began operations in January this year.
We understand that Mr Gove has something more ambitious in mind: a new police force which investigates online hate crime and other offences centrally, rather than sifting through cases and allocating them to local forces.
But Mr Gove’s team have not provided data on how much time local constabularies are really spending dealing with online crime, and to what extent this is diverting officers from other work.
According to experimental data gathered from 30 out of forces in England and Wales, only 2 per cent of hate crimes recorded by police in 2017/18 were online (1,605 offences) were classed as “online”.
Georgina Lee and Patrick Worrall