General election manifestos: A deep dive into political promises for the UK grocery sector

The Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and Green Party all unveiled their manifestos this week. We look at the policies that impact the grocery industry.

Labour’s manifesto proposals 

The Labour Party has pledged to" reduce food prices" by "removing barriers to businesses trading", as a part of its new general election 2024 manifesto. 

On Thursday (13 June), Labour’s Keir Starmer unveiled his party’s manifesto and its pledge to “reduce food prices” by “removing barriers to businesses trading”.

Labour also said that it “recognises food security is national security” and added that it would “champion British farming” while protecting the environment.

Other notable policies include the promise to promised to cap corporation tax at the current level of 25% and a confirm of its intention of banning advertising junk food to children along with the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to under-16s.

The British Consortium Retail chief executive Helen Dickinson said the manifesto included “many of the right policies to help retail invest for the future”, but warned that Labour if is elected, they should “continue to engage with businesses on the finer details of many of these policies”.

Labour Manifesto proposals
Farming A target for half of all food purchases across the public sector to be locally produced or certified to higher environmental standards.

To introduce a land-use framework and make environment land management schemes work for farmers and nature.

Work with farmers and scientists on measures to eradicate Bovine TB, to end ineffective badger cull.

Food Reduce food prices by removing barriers to business trading.

End mass dependence on emergency food parcels.

Ban advertising junk food to children along with the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to under-16s.

Retail Crime Restore neighbourhood policing with thousands of extra officers and equip officers with the power they need.

Create a new specific offence for assaults on shopworkers.

Business Cap corporation tax at 25% for the entire parliament.

Retain permanent full expensing for capital investment and the annual investment allowance for small businesses.

Replace the UK business rates system with a new fairer system to level the playing field between online and high streets.

Every fiscal event making significant changes to taxation or spending will be subject to an independent OBR forecast.

Tackle tax avoidance by large businesses.

Trade Strike new free trade agreements and expand markets for British exporters.

Improve the UK’s trade and investment relationship with the EU by tearing down unnecessary barriers to trade.

Negotiate a veterinary agreement to prevent unnecessary border checks and help tackle the cost of food.

Publish a trade strategy and use every lever available to get UK businesses the access they need to international markets to promote the highest standards when it comes to food production.

Conservatives 

The Conservatives have vowed to increase the UK-wide farming budget by £1bn over parliament and not raise corporation tax, in new proposals from their general election manifesto. 

Earlier this week (11 June), prime minister Rishi Sunak vowed to increase the UK-wide farming budget by £1bn in new proposals from its manifesto.

Other notable measures aimed at bolstering the agricultural sector include improving public sector procurement to ensure at least 50% of food expenditure is spent on food produced locally or to higher environmental production standards.

The Tories also reaffirmed its plan to make assaults on shopworkers a standalone offence. However, the BRC said its manifesto “fails to take the bull by the horns, leaving many ongoing challenges… without clear solutions”.

Conservatives  Manifesto proposals 
Farming  Increase the UK-wide farming budget by £1bn over the Parliament, ensuring it rises by inflation in every year. Farmers will be able to spend every extra penny on grants to boost domestic food production on top of maintaining its approach to Environmental Land Management Schemes.

Continue to ringfence agricultural funding so it is passed directly on to farming and rural communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland alongside a new UK-wide £20m Farming Innovation Fund.

Introduce a legally binding target to enhance food security which will apply UK-wide alongside its UK Food Security Index, helping to determine where best to concentrate farming funds.

Improve public sector procurement to deliver a goal that at least 50% of food expenditure is spent on food produced locally or to higher environmental production standards.

Use significant investment in research and development to prioritise cutting-edge technology in areas such as fertiliser and vertical farming.

Support the agricultural sector with the labour it needs to maintain food security, while moving away from the reliance on seasonal migrant labour with a five-year visa tapered scheme, alongside clear investment in automation and promoting agri-food careers and skills.

To always stand up for farmers when negotiating.

Fishing  Will go further to seek additional opportunities for our inshore fleet in the 2026 negotiations, and ensure inshore voices are better heard by their representative bodies.

Replicate the £100m UK Seafood Fund to continue to support the sector to thrive. The fund could be used to invest in harbour and fish market upgrades, provide new equipment and technology for fish processing or to support our growing aquaculture sector.

Public Health  Bring forward landmark Tobacco and Vapes Bill in its first King’s Speech.

Continue to tackle childhood and adult obesity and will legislate to restrict the advertising of products high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).

Will gather new evidence on the impact of ultra processed food to support people to make healthier choices.

Retail Crime  Press ahead with plans to make assaults on shopworkers a standalone offence.
Business  Supporting firms with a business rates support package worth £4.3bn over the next five years to support small businesses and the high street.

Ease the burden of business rates for high street retailers by increasing the multiplier on distribution warehouses and support online shopping over time.

Trade  Will always stand up for UK agriculture in our trade deals.

Liberal Democrats 

On Tuesday Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey’s pledged to make the food and farming industry fairer and have specifically vowed to ““protect consumers from unfair price rises” as part of the party’s 2024 manifesto.

Alongside other policies, the party vowed to a new comprehensive Animal Welfare Bill to ensure no animal product that would be illegal to produce in the UK can be sold here, including foie gras and food produced with antibiotic growth promoters.

Yet the Lib Dem has come under criticism in recent days by those in the BRC who said they were “disappointed” that the manifesto made no mention of retail crime.

Liberal Democrats Manifesto proposals
Farming Introduce a range of other ‘public money for public goods’ programmes for farmers and fishers.

Support farmers to reduce the pollution of rivers, streams and lakes.

Develop a safe way of controlling bovine tuberculosis by investing in producing workable vaccines.

Work with farmers to reduce harmful artificial fertilisers and pesticides while protecting beer and other pollinators.

Invest in local abattoirs to attract retail workers from communities, especially from younger age groups.

Ban caged hens and prevent unnecessarily painful practices in farming

Introduce a comprehensive plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance in farm animals.

Fishing Ban on bottom trawling in marine protected areas and bring sustainability to fishing.
Food Using public procurement to support the consumption of food produced to high standards of environmental and social sustainability.

Strengthen the Groceries Code Adjudicator to protect consumers from price rises and support produces.

Introduce a Research and Innovation Fund to support new energy technologies in the sector, such as the development of alternative proteins.

Give local authorities greater powers to inspect food products.

Ensure all imported food meets UK standards for health and welfare and that goods are properly checked

Introduce robust and clear-to-understand food labelling

Ensure that no animal product that would be illegal to produce in the UK can be sold here, including foie gras and foods produced with antibiotic growth promoters

Retail Crime ~
Business Introduce a 4% tax on share buyback schemes of FTSE-100 listed companies to incentives productive investments, job creation and economic growth

Work with OECD and the UN to make the case for increasing the global minimum rate of corporation tax to 21%.

Reform fiduciary duty and company purpose rules to ensure that all large companies have a formal statement of corporate purpose, including considerations such as employee welfare, environmental standards, community benefit and ethical practice, alongside benefit to shareholders, and that they report formally on the wider impact of the business on society and the environment.

Encourage employers to promote employee ownership by giving staff in listed companies with more than 250 employees a right to request shares, to be held in trust for the benefit of employees.

Extend the scope of the existing ‘public interest’ test when considering approvals for takeovers of large or strategically significant companies by overseas-based owners to recognise the benefits to the UK economy, workers and consumers of protecting UK companies from speculative or short-term interests.

Tackle late payments by requiring all government agencies and contractors and companies with more than 250 employees to sign up to the prompt payment code, making it enforceable.

Ensure the UK consumer protection standards at least match EU standards

Support British industry to cut emissions while holding businesses to account for their role in tackling climate change.

Trade Renegotiate the Australia and New Zealand trade agreements in line with objectives for health, environmental and animal welfare standards and withdrawing from them if that cannot be achieved.

Give Parliament real power in setting UK trade policy, by ensuring it is properly consulted on and signs off on negotiating mandates and any completed international trade agreements.

Ensuring that all information small and medium-sized enterprises need on trade is readily available from a single point of contact, with tailored support for those who need it.

Making it a clear objective of trade ministers to boost trade by small British businesses.

Place human rights, labour and environmental standards and protection at the heart of international trade deals.

Review the UK excise duty structure to better support whisky exports.

 Green Party

Earlier this week the Green Party launch their 2024 election manifesto with a series of proposals focusing on sustainability and environmental goals.

Announced by co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay, notable measures include an end to factory farming, enforcement of maximum stocking densities, and no routine use of antibiotics in farm animals.  

Green Party  Manifesto proposals 
Farming  An end to factory farming, enforcement of maximum stocking densities, and no routine use of antibiotics in farm animals.

A complete ban on close confinement in cages and the deliberate and unnecessary mutilation of farm animals.

Aim to increase the amount of food grown and traded in the UK, and as locally as possible.

Financial support for farmers to be almost tripled to support their transition to nature-friendly farming.

Farm payments to be linked to reduced use of pesticides and other agro-chemicals.

Food  All children to have a free school meal each day and free breakfast clubs for children to year 6.
Retail Crime  ~
Business  Aligning the tax rates on investment income with the tax and National Insurance Contribution rates on employment income.

An increase in the minimum wage to £15 an hour, no matter your age, with the costs to small businesses offset by reducing their National Insurance payments.

A maximum 10:1 pay ratio for all private and public-sector organisations.

A move to a four-day working week.

Trade  ~

 

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