Keir Starmer’s New Year speech fact checked
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has delivered his first major speech of 2023.
We’ve taken a look at some of the claims made in the speech – on regional inequality, burglaries and funding for Labour’s NHS training plans – below. You can also watch or read the full speech.
“We have an economy that hoards potential and a politics that hoards power. And it’s no coincidence – no accident – that this leaves us with more regional inequality than anywhere else in Europe.”
There are many different measures of regional inequality, so without knowing exactly what Mr Starmer was referring to it’s difficult to say how accurate this claim is.
The UK appears to be a more regionally unequal country than the OECD average, though how much more unequal depends on what measure you’re looking at.
However, Mr Starmer’s claim isn’t entirely consistent with recent analysis of regional inequality published by the Labour party itself.
In December the party’s Commission on the UK’s Future, led by former prime minister Gordon Brown, published a table which showed that the UK had one of the highest rates of regional inequality among a subset of larger OECD countries, but that Greece, Lithuania and Romania were more unequal on the measure presented.
“Houses that get burgled countless times yet the police never come.”
Listing some of the “challenges” the Labour party would face if it came into power, Mr Starmer mentioned “houses that get burgled countless times yet the police never come”.
While there have been long-standing concerns about the diminishing police response to burglary, the police have committed to changing this.
In October, the leaders of all police forces in England and Wales made a commitment that officers would now attend every case of domestic burglary.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said this decision was taken “after considering public opinion, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services’ report on acquisitive crime and reviewing a new rapid evidence assessment produced by the College of Policing on effective measures for solving burglary crimes.”
The number of domestic burglaries in England and Wales has been falling consistently since the mid 1990s, as measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
In addition to the crime survey, the Office for National Statistics says: “Police recorded crime data can give reliable indications of trends in some offences involving theft (for example, domestic burglary).”
Police data also shows the number of domestic burglaries falling over the past few decades.
“We’ve got a fully costed plan for the biggest NHS training programme in its history.”
Mr Starmer’s claim Labour has a “fully costed plan for the biggest NHS training programme in its history” appears to refer to an announcement made during the party’s conference in September 2022, where shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves pledged “one of the biggest expansions of doctor and nurse numbers in the history of the NHS”.
Labour said it would:
- Double the number of medical school places to 15,000 a year
- Double the number of district nurses qualifying each year
- Train 5,000 new health visitors a year
- Create 10,000 more nursing and midwifery clinical placements each year
- Create a long-term workforce plan for the NHS
At the time, Labour said its plan would be funded by “reintroducing the 45p additional rate of income tax, paid by those earning more than £150,000 a year,” which then-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng had recently announced would be lowered to 40p.
As we’ve previously explained, maintaining the status quo of the 45p rate would not have freed up any new money to spend on training new NHS staff, unless some other part of government spending was reduced, taxes increased or borrowing increased.
Since Labour made its announcement, changes to the additional rate of income tax have been abandoned by the government.
Labour now says that its plan would be funded by abolishing the non-dom tax status, which, according to a report published in September 2022, could raise an estimated £3.2 billion a year in additional tax revenue.
In a September briefing ahead of Ms Reeves’ conference speech, Labour put the cost of doubling the number of medical school places at £1.1 billion. When Full Fact asked Labour to provide the calculations behind its pledge to fund medical training by abolishing the non-dom status in November, it pointed us to recommendations made by the Royal College of Physicians for “doubling the number of medical school places from 7,500 to 15,000 per year, at an annual cost of around £1.85 billion.”
In September, Labour also estimated that training an extra 10,000 nurses would cost £51 million a year, while doubling the number of district nurses qualifying each year and training 5,000 new health visitors would cost £20 million and £100 million a year respectively.
We’ve contacted Labour to confirm the current costing of its NHS training programme, and will update this story when we get a response.