Plaid Cymru 2024 manifesto: fact checked

12 June 2024

On 13 June, Plaid Cymru launched its 2024 manifesto.

Our fact checking team has been through the 72-page document with the help of Full Fact’s AI tools, and looked at several claims. 

Honesty in public debate matters

You can help us take action – and get our regular free email

Number of GPs

In the ‘Health and Social Care’ section of the manifesto, Plaid Cymru claims: “In Wales we have seen a significant reduction in the numbers of GPs over the past decade.” 

This appears to be correct at least in terms of the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) GP partners and salaried GPs, but there are different ways of measuring the number of GPs. The number of GP partners and salaried GPs by headcount was about the same level in 2023 as it was in 2013. 

Data from StatsWales shows there were 1,422 FTE GPs (including partners and salaried GPs but not locums, retainers and trainees) as of 31 December 2023. In 2013, there were 1,901 FTE GPs, suggesting a fall of 25% over the past decade. 

Headcount figures may be less useful in understanding the extent of GP provision, but StatsWales data suggests these are broadly flat, with 2,032 GP partners and salaried GPs in 2023 and 2,026 in September 2013. The Welsh government says that the headcount of GP practitioners “has historically been the most stable measure of the GP workforce”. 

None of these figures account for locums, retainers or, crucially, trainees, of whom there has been a sharp increase in England

We’ve not been able to find a figure for the number of FTE GP trainees in Wales in 2013, though there were 409 FTE trainees in 2023. By headcount there were 233 trainees in 2013 and 463 in 2023, though the Welsh government has warned data was collected less consistently prior to 2021 and so may not be directly comparable.

Cost of renewing Trident

The manifesto’s ‘Defence’ section says the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system “is estimated to cost more than £200bn”. 

Plaid Cymru told Full Fact that this figure is based on an estimate produced by the anti-nuclear weapons group Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in 2016. 

But this is just one estimate. Reuters has produced a lower estimate, and there’s considerable uncertainty over some of the costs associated with renewing Trident so we don’t reliably know how much it will cost in its entirety.

In 2015, the government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review estimated the cost of the Dreadnought programme, the replacement programme for the Vanguard Class submarines that carry the Trident missiles, would be £31 billion. With a £10 billion contingency budget, this puts the cost of submarine renewal at £41 billion. 

But there are several other costs associated with the Trident programme, as we’ve explained before

The CND estimate includes costs for the new submarines, as well as missile extension, infrastructure capital spend, in-service costs, decommissioning and conventional forces directly assigned to support Trident. 

The Ministry of Defence told us that it’s too early to provide cost estimates for the replacement warhead programme, which is still in its early stages, despite the CND estimate suggesting replacement warheads will cost £4 billion. We do know that between 2018 and 2021, £214 million had been spent on the ‘readiness phase’ of this programme. 

Some costs linked to the Trident programme are withheld by the government as it says “disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness, or security of the armed forces”. 

In 2016, Reuters calculated that renewal of the Trident programme could cost £167 billion, based on information provided by a then-defence minister to a Conservative MP. This estimate included in-service costs as a proportion of the defence budget (assumed to be 2% of GDP), and assumed GDP growth between 2020 and 2026 would average 2.48% a year. 

The Ministry of Defence told us that it doesn’t recognise any other organisations’ estimates for the total cost of renewing Trident.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.