What are Labour's policies? Here’s what Keir Starmer has promised

Downing Street's newest tenant is moving into a new home which comes with a bulging in-tray of issues in need of attention.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 5:  Labour leader and incoming Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer speaks to the media as he enters 10 Downing Street following Labour's landslide election victory  on July 5, 2024 in London, England. The Labour Party won a landslide victory in the 2024 general election, ending 14 years of Conservative government. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Sir Keir Starmer is the new prime minister, but what are his priorities? (Getty Images)

After weeks slogging it out on the campaign trail, the hard work starts now for Sir Keir Starmer. After meeting King Charles, Starmer was formally named prime minister and given the green light to form the first Labour government in more than a decade.

The party’s manifesto, titled simply "Change", set out six first steps for an incoming administration, covering areas such as the NHS, the economy and border control.

Downing Street’s new tenant is reportedly so keen to make a start that the usual summer recess for MPs could even be delayed this year to make time in the House of Commons diary to kick off the legislative agenda.

It is understood the King's speech – the set piece event in which the monarch formally announces the government's plans – could take place within two weeks.

"Brick by brick, we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity," Starmer pledged in his first Downing Street speech as PM on Friday.

Here’s what we could expect to see Starmer tackling straight away:

Labour hopes to raise more than £1.5bn by applying VAT and business rates to private schools.

Almost a third of the cash raised, which is included in the Fiscal Plan section of the party’s manifesto, would be used to fund a flagship policy to hire 6,500 new teachers.

Further funds would be funnelled to initiatives including 3,000 new nurseries, teacher training and an overhaul of schools watchdog Ofsted.

During the election campaign, Starmer said he intended to implement the private education raid “straight away” on entering Downing Street and the measure is likely to form part of the new government’s first budget.

Windsor, UK - July 29, 2023: The main courtyard on the campus of Eton College in the UK
Elite schools, such as Eton College, where Boris Johnson was taught, face higher bills under a Labour government.

NHS industrial action reared its head once again during the general election campaign, with junior doctors announcing they would down stethoscopes for five days ahead of polling day.

The Labour manifesto promised to “reset relations with NHS staff”, but Starmer has already signalled a tough stance on negotiations, ruling out the prospect of the 35% pay rise doctors’ unions are calling for.

One of the few manifesto pledges with a firm timetable is Labour’s promise to improve workers’ rights within 100 days of taking office.

Headline announcements have included banning zero hours contracts and ending fire and rehire practices.

Employees have also been promised parental leave, sick pay and protection from unfair dismissal would be introduced from their first day in a job.

The minimum wage would also be overhauled, with age bands scrapped so young workers get the same pay as their older colleagues.

Labour's 'New Deal for Working People' has been pushed by deputy leader Angela Rayner. (Photo by Alishia Abodunde/Getty Images)
Labour's 'new deal for working people' has been pushed by new deputy PM Angela Rayner. (Getty Images)

Early in the campaign, Starmer promised to bin the Conservatives’ flagship Rwanda deportations policy “straight away” if his party won a majority.

Instead, he said specialist investigators would be used to tackle small boats crossing the Channel, with counter-terrorism powers to "smash" people smuggling gangs.

The manifesto also included provisions for a new Border Security Command, headed by a former police, military or intelligence chief and reporting directly to the home secretary, which would work with Border Force, MI5 and the National Crime Agency.

A “moral mission” to tackle knife crime was set out by the Labour leader in a meeting with victims’ families and the actor Idris Elba.

A vow to halt the sale of so-called ‘zombie knives’ is due to be a key plank of the new government’s approach, with a ban promised “straight away”.

Keir Starmer met actor Idris Elba and families of knife crime victims on the General Election campaign trail. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Keir Starmer met actor Idris Elba and families of knife crime victims on the campaign trail. (Getty Images)

‘Ronan’s law’, named after 16-year-old Ronan Kanda from Wolverhampton, who was killed in a knife attack in 2022, will focus on online sales of the weapons.

A crackdown on anti-social behaviour was among the six “first steps for change” outlined by Labour in the campaign, with tougher penalties for offenders and “a new network of youth hubs” also promised.

After the cost of living crisis hit British household finances, Labour made the welcome promise to save families up to £300 a year with plans to form a new energy company.

According to the party’s manifesto, Great British Energy would be a “publicly-owned clean power company”, committed to cutting bills by leading the transition to renewable energy and improving national energy security.

However, the means for doing this have not been spelled out in detail. Interviewed by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Pat McFadden, former MP and now Labour’s national campaign coordinator, said Great British Energy would focus on investing in new technologies, rather than generating megawatts.

This will be paid for by closing “loopholes in the windfall tax on oil and gas companies”, although there has not been much detail yet on when or how this would be done.

Clearing NHS waiting lists was a key pledge in the Labour manifesto. (Photo by Peter Nicholls/Getty Images)
Clearing NHS waiting lists was a key pledge in the Labour manifesto. (Getty Images)

Plans for an extra 40,000 appointments are at the heart of Starmer’s plans to get to grips with the NHS.

High street opticians such as Specsavers are reportedly being lined up to take some of the burden, while private health providers could also be co-opted to provide routine checks and scans in an attempt to free up senior staff for more complex work.

The party’s manifesto claims this will be paid for by “cracking down on tax avoidance and non-dom loopholes”.

In May, just days before Rishi Sunak called the snap general election, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures were revealed in parliament showing the scale of the backlog in the Access to Work scheme.

The programme is supposed to provide support for people with a disability, health or mental health condition to remain in employment.

According to the DWP secretary Mims Davies, a waiting list which stood at 24,874 at the start of 2024 had grown by more than 10,000, to 36,721 applications awaiting a decision shortly before the poll was announced.

But Labour has been vague on its plans, simply promising to “tackle” the outstanding bids.