Analysis of General Election policy proposals from main political parties

The Institute for Fiscal Studies

As the general election approaches, the IFS will present rigorous, evidence-based and independent analysis of key policy issues in areas such as the public finances, living standards, working-age benefits, taxation and public services.

Any party serious about governing must resist the temptation of cakeism

January 2024

A new government will inherit taxes at record levels for the UK; living standards that have endured a record-long stagnation; and public services – health, local government, prisons, the justice system – that are visibly struggling, and performing less well than they were back in 2010. Yet current spending plans imply further cuts for most public services other than health. The political parties must be honest with the public about the tough trade-offs they will inevitably have to make on tax and spending.

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Getting English NHS waiting lists down to pre-pandemic levels is highly unlikely within the next parliament

February 2024

The NHS waiting list in England stands at 7.6 million, almost 400,000 higher than it was in January 2023 when the Prime Minister promised to get waiting lists falling and 3 million higher than pre-pandemic levels. Yet recent months have shown signs of hope. The waiting list fell for three consecutive months at the end of 2023 (from 7.8 million in September to 7.6 million in December). This partly reflected seasonal factors (the waiting list tends to fall at that time of year), but also genuine increases in NHS treatment volumes.

By the general election, NHS waiting lists in England are likely to be steadily falling. That would be a very welcome development. But getting waiting lists and – perhaps more importantly – waiting times back down to pre-pandemic levels will take years and, more likely than not, more than a full parliamentary term.

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