Shropshire Star

Fact check: Question Time Leaders’ Special and viral payments claim

Round-up of claims from the campaign trail checked by Full Fact, including the Question Time Leaders’ Special.

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Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey speaking during a BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special in York

This summary of claims from the campaign trail has been compiled by Full Fact, the UK’s largest fact checking organisation working to find, expose and counter the harms of bad information, as part of the PA news agency’s Election Check 24.

Question Time Leaders’ Special

The Conservative, Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat leaders were quizzed by members of the public in a two-hour BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special on Thursday—and the Full Fact team fact checked a number of claims from it.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said people have seen “huge tax rises under this government to record levels”.

It’s true the so-called ‘tax burden’ (which refers to tax revenues as a percentage of GDP) was at the highest level for 70 years in 2022/23. It’s fallen slightly since, but Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts—which are based on existing government plans—show it is set to increase in each of the next five years. It is worth noting though that the average earner’s effective personal tax rate (based on the rate of income tax and National Insurance contributions) is the lowest it’s been since 1975.

Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the SNP John Swinney claimed Scotland has “the best performing accident and emergency system in the United Kingdom”.

That is broadly correct for the most recent comparable data on the ‘four-hour target’ in major A&E units. But some other measures suggest Scotland’s relative performance is not quite as good. For example, if you look at the four-hour target for all types of A&E units (including minor injury units), Scotland has worse performance than England and Wales—67.4% compared to 74.4% and 70.3% respectively.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed “migration is at record levels under this government”.

Net migration did reach record levels in 2022, though it fell by about 10% in 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And speaking about NHS waiting lists, the Prime Minister and Conservative leader Rishi Sunak twice said they are now “starting to come down”.

NHS waiting lists in England peaked in September 2023 before beginning to fall, but have ticked back up in the most recent data. NHS England figures for April 2024 show about 6.33 million people were waiting to begin 7.57 million courses of treatment, up slightly from 6.29 million people and 7.54 million cases in March.

No evidence for viral claim about payment to leave the UK

Thousands of people have shared videos on social media suggesting the Prime Minister plans to pay people £75,000 to leave the UK.

One TikTok video has overlaid text saying “Rishi offering 75k to leave UK”, while another says: “75k to leave the UK would you do this? Rishi Sunak new plans??”

There’s no evidence that Mr Sunak or the Conservative party is planning any such policy.

While it was reported in May 2024 that a failed asylum seeker was paid £3,000 to go to Rwanda as part of a voluntary removals programme, there is no mention in the party’s 2024 manifesto of people being paid £75,000 to leave the UK.

In fact, the claim appears to have first been shared in a satirical TikTok video in June 2023, but it has since been shared widely by other accounts without any obvious indication that it is satire.

Election Check 24

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