Boris Johnson: How did the Prime Minister's manifesto pledges affect Newcastle?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is "proud" of his time at Number 10 Downing Street and that he will end his premiership with his head held high.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is "proud" of his time at Number 10 Downing Street and that he will end his premiership with his head held high.

Mr Johnson – who announced he would step down in July following a chain of resignations by ministers within his party – will leave office this week less than three years after his landslide election victory in 2019.

The Conservative leader made a swathe of major pledges in his manifesto, including recruiting more police officers and providing extra funding for the NHS.

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    We have taken a look at whether Mr Johnson has delivered on just some of his promises and how they have impacted Newcastle.

    Police officer uplift

    Mr Johnson promised to recruit 20,000 new police officers across England and Wales in his 2019 manifesto.

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    The Home Office then launched the police officer uplift programme in April 2020, with the aim of achieving the 20,000 target by March 2023.

    The latest Home Office figures show 13,790 extra officers had been recruited via the uplift programme as of June.

    It means the Government is two-thirds of the way to its target with six months to go.

    Of them, 433 have been recruited to Northumbria Police, which covers Newcastle.

    There were 3,129 police officers in Northumbria in November 2019, just before Mr Johnson became Prime Minister – this rose to 3,622 in June this year.

    But Ché Donald, national vice-chairman of the Police Federation, said the uplift programme does not go far enough and only replaces previously lost officers.

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    Mr Donald said "long-term recruitment and sustainable funding" is required so that police leaders can also focus on the retention of staff.

    The Home Office said the uplift programme has brought policing numbers to a 10-year high.

    Housing

    Mr Johnson also pledged to create an additional 300,000 homes per year in England by 2025.

    However, this target has not been met yet, and Mr Johnson conceded earlier this year that he could not give a "cast-iron guarantee we are going to get to a number in a particular year".

    The latest figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show 242,700 homes were built in 2019-20, while just 216,489 were built the following year – the lowest number in the last five years, as the coronavirus pandemic hampered building activity.

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    Of these, 1,268 additional dwellings were created in Newcastle in 2020-21 – down from 1,522 the year before.

    Shelter said the Government hasn't built enough homes for years and that people need "genuinely affordable and secure homes".

    Polly Neate, chief executive of the charity, added: "As the new Prime Minister takes office they are going to have to look for a long-term fix for our broken housing system."

    The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said housebuilding reached its highest level in over 30 years in 2019-20 and that it is investing £11.5 billion in affordable social housing and £1.8 billion in transforming local areas to create more homes.

    Brexit

    Perhaps most famously, Mr Johnson promised to "get Brexit done" – and on January 31 2020 at 11 pm, the UK ceased to be a part of the European Union.

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    That will have disappointed the majority of people in Newcastle as 49% of people in the area who voted in the 2016 referendum opted to leave the EU, while 51% voted to remain.

    Nursing recruitment and GP appointments

    Mr Johnson promised to recruit 50,000 more nurses across England by 2024 and provide 50 million more GP appointments annually by the same year in his 2019 manifesto.

    The latest NHS Digital figures show the equivalent of 320,000 full-time NHS nurses and health visitors were employed in the NHS in May 2022 – up by 24,000 from 296,000 in December 2019.

    Despite a rise in nursing staff, the Royal College of Nursing said workers are "burnt out and simply not valued by their employers and the Government".

    The NHS is currently grappling with high vacancy rates across the service – different NHS Digital figures show there were 47,000 nursing vacancies in England at the end of June – the highest number on record.

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    The Department for Health and Social Care said it is on track to recruit 50,000 more nurses by 2024.

    A spokesperson said it has commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan to recruit and retain more NHS staff.

    Further NHS Digital figures show there were 290 million GP appointments in England in the year to July 2019.

    This stood at 320 million in the year to July, the latest figures available – an increase of 30 million.