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Life sciences a key player in the election and for economic growth

Posted on 1 July 2024

With the general election pending, it is evident from speeches made by representatives of all the major parties that the UK's life sciences sector has a significant role to play in economic growth (which in turn, will assist to recover the UK economy).

Maintaining the R&D tax reliefs and reducing NHS waiting times alongside more resource and more use of technology/AI-enabled healthcare are key themes of both the Labour and Conservatives parties.

It is encouraging that science (and in particular, R&D), together with a focus on investing in the industry to power economic growth, is prominent in both parties' manifestos. Likewise, this would increase UK's attraction for investment and creating skilled jobs (and attracting employment).

Set out below is a brief summary of the Labour and Conservatives' life sciences-related policies as set out in their manifestos, together with Labour's life sciences strategy ('Prescription for Growth') published back in February.

Subject Conservatives Labour
R&D investment
  • Increase R&D spend to £22 billion per annum (compared to £20 billion spent in the last year).
  • Maintain R&D tax reliefs.
  • Continue with their Advanced Manufacturing Plan which provides a £4.5 billion commitment into securing strategic manufacturing sectors such as automotive, aerospace, life sciences and clean energy.
  • No defined target but promises to implement a 10-year funding cycle for key R&D institutions.
  • Maintain R&D tax reliefs.
  • More consistent and improved spin-out terms.
  • Support the allocation of £520 million for life sciences manufacturing.
  • Employ 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors in the NHS than 2023.
  • Build or modernise 250 GP surgeries (with a focus on areas of new housing growth).
  • Build 50 more Community Diagnostic Centres.
  • Build 40 new hospitals by 2030.
  • Invest £3.4 billion in new technology for NHS staff and for patients (with the hope of increasing productivity by 1.9%).
  • Deliver an extra 2 million NHS operations, scans, and appointments every year.
  • Develop an NHS innovation and adoption strategy in England. This will include a procurement plan to give a clearer route for getting products into the NHS.
  • Double the number of cancer scanners.
  • Recruit 8,500 additional mental health staff.
Regulation / clinical trials
  • Support research into new treatments, including for Parkinson’s and MND and increase commercial clinical trials.
  • Streamline regulations through the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), including the removal of the NHS Budget Impact Test.
  • Establish a new Regulatory Innovation Office.
  • Increase clinical trial participation and improve researchers’ access to health data through the NHS app.
  • Planning reform to make it easier to build laboratories.
  • Phase out animal testing.


If you have any legal queries on any matters involving the life sciences sector, please get in touch with Patrick Farrant or Anna Sloan from our Life Sciences team.

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