Boris Johnson gave his keynote speech at the Conservative party conference this week. Let’s give it the FactCheck treatment.
“The extra £14bn we’re putting into education”
This seems to refer to a policy announced in August 2019 covering schools in England. Paul Johnson, head of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), described the £14bn figure at the time as “somewhere between meaningless and misleading”.
The UK statistics regulator said in 2019: “There is […] a risk that the figures could mislead: for example, people who read no further might expect that the headline figure of £14 billion refers to an annual increase.”
In fact it is a cumulative figure combining budget increases over three years (2020-21 to 2022-23), rather than reflecting a £14bn increase in each year.
This is a not-very-helpful tactic politicians often use to make announcements seem especially generous. But most professional statisticians prefer to use annual sums.
It also fails to account for inflation. The government said the yearly schools budget would be £7.1bn higher in 2022-23 than in 2019-20. But with inflation in the mix, the true increase would be £4.3bn, according IFS estimates from the time of the announcement.
“We’re going to use Brexit freedoms to do things differently… we’re doing at least eight freeports”
It is misleading to suggest that “Brexit freedoms” allowed for freeports. As FactCheck has reported before, the UK had freeports while it was a member of the EU.
“It is right that this party, that has looked after the NHS for most of its history, should be the one to rise to the challenge. 48 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses”
As regular FactCheck readers will know, both of these claims have been knocking around for a while.
If you thought the 48 new hospitals claim (which applies to England only as health is devolved) meant there’d be that many more hospitals in the country, you’d be wrong.
FactCheck analysis of a 2020 Department of Health press release shows that 18 of the projects given the green light will simply rebuild existing facilities, while a further four will see replacement hospitals built on the same site.
The “50,000 more nurses” claim includes retaining nurses who would otherwise have been expected to leave the NHS. According to Conservative sources quoted ahead of the last election, the number of nurses actually being hired is 31,500.