Economy and cost of living claims in the 2024 general election: fact checked

3 July 2024

As polling day approaches, we’re rounding up the work we’ve done over the 2024 general election campaign in a series of easy-to-read guides to help you get the facts you need.

Claims about the cost of living and the economy more broadly have underscored the election campaign, and the public have consistently questioned candidates on their pledges and track records at live debates.

This article lists our verdicts on some of the key claims we’ve seen from the major parties.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the claims we’ve written about or fact checked, and there have been many accurate claims made about the cost of living too, which we’ve not necessarily covered. So we wouldn’t suggest using these round-ups to judge how honest any party is overall. At the same time, just because we haven’t written about a particular claim doesn’t mean we’ve verified it as true.

Please follow the links to read our full fact checks on each of the claims below: these include links to all the sources we’ve used (so you can check our work for yourself).

[The energy price cap shows the economy has] turned a corner

In the first week of the campaign trail (24 May), Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that a fall in the energy price cap announced by energy regulator Ofgem that day stood as a sign that the economy had “turned a corner”.

Ofgem had announced that in July 2024 the energy price cap—the maximum price that can be charged per unit of gas and electricity—would be set at a level that would see the amount paid by a typical household using both electricity and gas and paying by direct debit decrease from £1,690 to £1,568 per year. That’s a fall of £122.

That new energy price cap, which came into force this week, is the lowest it’s been since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

But, as we said in our fact check at the time, this decrease may only be temporary. Analysts at Cornwall Insight have forecast that prices will increase again from October—equating to a price cap of £1,762 a year for a typical household—and will remain around this level in January 2025.

Under Rishi Sunak, typical families are now £5,883 worse off

This claim has featured in Labour party campaign literature, but as we’ve explained, there are a number of problems with the figure.

The party says it’s the increase in six household costs faced by “typical families” since 2019, but some of these will not apply to every family, and the figure doesn’t include other household outgoings. Their calculation also doesn’t take into account any changes in wages or benefits since 2019.

Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts suggest that real household disposable income per person—a common measure of living standards—will fall by £166 between 2019/20 and 2024/25, from £21,767 to £21,601, equating to a decrease of just under £400 for the average household.

“The Conservatives’ plan will mean £4,800 more on your mortgage”

Labour’s claim that the Conservatives’ plans would lead to families paying “£4,800 more on their mortgage” is one of the claims we’ve seen repeated most often during the campaign. We’ve fact checked it on a number of occasions.

It is a speculative figure presented as fact, and is therefore misleading. £4,800 seems to be an estimate of the average annual extra cost of a mortgage at the end of the next parliament. It is based on several uncertain assumptions, and some of the detail of Labour’s workings remains unclear.

Great British Energy, a publicly owned energy company, will cut energy bills by up to £300

Following the launch of its flagship energy policy, Labour claimed that Great British Energy would save families “up to £300” on their energy bills from 2030. The party has repeated this claim during the election campaign, but it’s an outdated figure.

This claim is based on an October 2023 report by the energy think tank Ember which estimated what the average household electricity bill might be if the UK met its renewable energy commitments and the National Grid Electricity System Operator’s most ambitious scenario for energy decarbonisation.

But those plans are different to Labour’s, and the energy price cap figure used in the analysis has changed since anyway.

Under the Conservatives, the state pension had risen by £3,700—and is increasing another £900 this year

There are some issues with this claim, shared by the Conservatives on social media, as the figures refer to two different things.

The £900 figure refers to the increase in the new state pension this year (paid to men born on or after 6 April 1951 and women born on or after 6 April 1953) compared to 2023/24.  But the £3,700 figure refers to the basic (or old) state pension (which is paid to men born before 6 April 1951 and women born before 6 April 1953), and correctly gives the difference between 2010 and 2024/25, including a £690 increase this year.

GDP per capita, our relative wealth, has declined for the last six consecutive quarters

During ITV’s Seven Party Leader Debate on 13 June, Reform UK leader Nigel Farage claimed gross domestic product (GDP) per capita “has declined for the last six consecutive quarters”. He then repeated the claim the following morning on BBC Breakfast.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show GDP per capita increased in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous quarter. However, it had fallen for seven consecutive quarters prior to that.

[The Scottish Child Payment is] keeping 100,000 children out of poverty

This claim about the Scottish Child Payment—a weekly payment of £26.70 issued to eligible low income families for each child under 16—was made in TV debates by the Scottish First Minister and SNP leader, John Swinney and the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

It appears to come from modelling suggesting 100,000 children will be kept out of relative poverty in 2024/25 due to Scottish government policies in general, rather than the Scottish Child Payment specifically. The same modelling estimates 60,000 of these children will be kept out of relative poverty this year by the Scottish Child Payment specifically.

Independent experts say there will be £18 billion of cuts after this election, whether the Conservatives or the Labour party form the Government

This is another claim we’ve seen made by SNP figures including Mr Swinney and Mr Flynn, and one that also appeared in the party’s manifesto.

The figure appears to be based on an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) estimate published in February, before the Spring Budget, of the real-terms spending reductions unprotected government departments could face by 2028/29.

But the IFS has also said there’s uncertainty around this figure, because there are no published plans beyond this year, and that the extent of cuts would depend on what happens to ‘protected’ areas (such as health and defence), among other things.

In May, it said: “A reasonable estimate is that unprotected budgets face cuts of between 1.9% and 3.5% per year (or between £10 and £20 billion by 2028–29).”

The economy is growing faster than almost any other major country, including the United States

We first heard Mr Sunak make this claim on BBC Radio 4’s Today the morning after he called the election, and have since seen versions of it repeated by the party a number of times, including in the party’s manifesto.

This is correct based on one measure—the figures for quarter-on-quarter GDP growth among G7 nations. Since Mr Sunak first made this claim some of the figures have been revised, but the updated data still shows the UK as having had higher recent quarter-on-quarter growth than other G7 countries.

Other, longer-term measures paint a different picture, however. ONS figures show that in 2023 the UK saw GDP growth of 0.1% compared to the previous year, which is the second lowest rate in the G7 behind Germany. Meanwhile, UK GDP growth in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 (the last full period before the pandemic), was 1.7%—also the second lowest rate in the G7 over this period.

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