Policy-by-policy: How's coalition done so far?

The coalition has published an overview and a more detailed pledge-by-pledge audit of its progress. Here are a selection of the coalition's original pledges and its assessment of progress, as well as Labour and BBC experts' commentary.


Whitehall sign
Original coalition agreement pledges:
  • More transparency in public sector pay
  • Introduce a statutory register of lobbyists
  • Reforms to party funding
  • "Open up" government procurement
  • Better public access to government data
  • Councils to be forced to publish data on all spending over £500

Where power lies

Not all coalition policies apply to all of the UK. For more details on Westminster's complex settlement with the devolved institutions, see BBC Democracy Live's guide.

What coalition says it's achieved:
  • Details of all government spending over £25,000 published
  • Nearly 9,000 datasets published at data.gov.uk
  • Process of consolidating government websites under way
Where it accepts it has missed targets:
  • A promised "right to data" has been replaced with measures to "enhance" existing rights
  • Councils were to have been "required" to publish details of meetings and all spending over £500, but so far the coalition has only issued guidance on the policy
Labour's verdict on coalition so far:
  • Government should publish more details of meetings with party donors
Coalition's mid-term 'to do' list:
  • Publish more details on meetings between politicians and media figures
  • Implement Open Data and Transparency White Paper
  • Open up government procurement wider
  • Complete transition to new gov.uk website
  • Support people who are unable to use digital services

BBC political reporter Kayte Rath says: Despite criticisms that the audit itself lacks transparency, by not listing explicitly which pledges have not been met, the government thinks it has a good tale to tell on opening up government decisions and processes. The pay of top civil servants, all government spending over £25,000 and government contracts worth over £10,000 are all now published online. But little, if any, progress has been made in bringing in a statutory register of lobbyist and progress on reforming party funding has so far been elusive. Promises to make local council decision-making and spending more transparent have also been watered down.


Passport being stamped
Original coalition agreement pledges:
  • Annual limit on non-EU immigration
  • End detention of children for immigration purposes
  • Create border police force
  • Minimise abuse of immigration rules
What coalition says it's achieved:
  • Net migration has fallen by 59,000 to 183,000
  • Cap on non-EU immigration introduced
  • Requirement that some migrants speak English
  • Bogus colleges abolished
  • Detention of children for immigration purposes now ended
  • Asylum cases resolved faster
Labour's verdict on coalition so far:
  • Action on illegal immigration being weakened
  • Border checks in summer 2011 abandoned
  • UK Border Agency losing 5,000 staff due to cuts
  • Queues at borders have been "embarrassing"
  • Serious backlog on asylum and immigration cases
Coalition's mid-term 'to do' list:
  • Cut immigration further
  • Encourage experts, scientists, artists and performers from abroad to work in the UK
  • No cap on number of entrepreneurs, rich people keen to invest in the UK, or senior executives applying for visas
  • Tighten process of applying for visa
  • No cap on immigration of "genuine students", 1,000 places for MBA graduates who want to start up businesses in UK, allow PhDs to stay longer
  • Continue to allow intra-company transfers
  • Impose transitional immigration controls on all new members of the EU
  • Introduce a new "Life in the UK" handbook and test

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says: Although there are signs the Government's changes to the immigration system are beginning to bite, its main challenge is sorting out the dysfunctional UK Border Agency. Report after report has criticised the Agency's failure to clear backlogs of asylum cases and remove people who are in Britain illegally.


Women stand in floodwaters to collect drinking water in India
Original coalition agreement pledges:
  • Increase aid to 0.7% of Gross National Income from 2013, and enshrine this commitment in law
  • Encourage other countries to fulfil their aid commitments
  • Support millennium development goals and democratic reforms
  • Give public a say in how aid is spent
  • Reduce maternal and infant mortality
  • Take action against "vulture funds"
What coalition says it's achieved:
  • Aid spending refocused on countries in most need and best performing international institutions
  • Established new body to examine effectiveness of aid spending
  • Raised funds to immunise 250 million children
Labour's verdict on coalition so far:
  • Ministers have not yet legislated on the 0.7% commitment
  • Aid budget being cut by more than £1.8bn
  • Aid to Rwanda restored despite evidence of involvement in DRC conflict
Coalition's mid-term 'to do' list:
  • Deliver on commitment to increase aid to 0.7% of Gross National Income from 2013, and enshrine this commitment in law
  • Provide access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation for up to 60 million people
  • Stop 250,000 babies dying unnecessarily
  • Support 11 million school-children
  • Vaccinate more children against preventable diseases
  • Save the lives of 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth
  • Support 13 countries to hold free and fair elections

BBC political reporter Kayte Rath says: Spending on overseas aid has been protected since the coalition came to power, despite protests from some MPs in the face of austerity measures at home. However, the government has so far failed to enshrine in law a commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on aid, but says it will meet the target in 2013 and 2014. On debt relief, it says it has cancelled the debt of 34 countries and legislated to stop "vulture funds" using the UK courts to extract harsh and inequitable payments from poor countries. In line with its wider push for transparency, the government has also opened up on aid spending - publishing online comprehensive information about all aid spending over £500.


A woman walks past a job centre
Original coalition agreement pledges:
  • Introduce payment-by-results in welfare-to-work
  • Make benefits conditional on "willingness to work"
  • Re-assess incapacity benefit claims
  • Support unemployed people keen to start new businesses
  • Simplify the benefits system
What coalition says it's achieved:
  • Reforms will save £19bn per year by 2014-15
  • Benefits cap to apply from 2013
  • Universal Credit to simplify benefits system "radically"
  • Number of people on incapacity benefits cut by 145,000
Where it accepts it has missed targets:
  • Jobseeker's Allowance claimants "facing the most significant barriers to work" were to have been put onto the new welfare to work programme "immediately"; this commitment is now to refer them within three months. Similarly, the target for jobseekers under 25 has shifted from six months to nine
Labour's verdict on coalition so far:
  • Benefits reforms hitting working people not "scroungers"
  • Welfare-to-work programme less effective "than doing nothing"
  • Welfare bill £13bn higher than planned
  • Universal Credit late and over-budget
  • Number of long-term unemployed young people doubled
  • "Genuinely ill" people suffering from changes to incapacity benefits
Coalition's mid-term 'to do' list:
  • Push forward with Universal Credit and the Youth Contract
  • Introduce the Personal Independence Payment for disabled people
  • Provide start-up loans and business mentors to unemployed people
  • "Protect key benefits for older people"

BBC business correspondent Jonty Bloom says: Unemployment rose after the coalition came to power but has been falling back recently, and is now at about the same level as at the election. This is quite a surprise with economic growth so slow unemployment would normally have risen much faster. No one is quite sure why it hasn't shot up but despite the government shedding hundreds of thousands of staff in the public sector the private sector has continued to create work.


Lady Justice, above the Central Criminal Court, London
Original coalition agreement pledges:
  • "Rehabilitation revolution" to pay independent providers able to cut reoffending
  • Review sentencing policy and legal aid
  • Establish new rape crisis centres
  • Anonymity for defendants in rape cases
  • Increased use of restorative justice
What coalition says it's achieved:
  • Payment-by-results pilot schemes helping to tackle reoffending
  • More offenders receiving drug treatment
  • Improved support for victims
  • Legal aid restricted to "serious issues"
  • Mandatory prison time for aggravated knife possession
  • New offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving
Where it accepts it has missed targets:
  • Defendants in rape cases will not be granted anonymity after ministers decided there was "insufficient evidence" to support the move
  • "Up to 15 new rape crisis centres" were promised; so far four have been opened
  • "Further work is being done" on the aim to allow the use of intercept evidence in court
Labour's verdict on coalition so far:
  • Abolition of indeterminate sentences has weakened public protection
  • Legal aid harder to claim in domestic violence cases
  • Punishment for knife crime not as tough as promised
Coalition's mid-term 'to do' list:
  • Reduce reoffending and cut crime
  • Legislate for more restorative justice
  • Use new technology to track offenders
  • Test weekend and night courts to speed up justice
  • Explore the potential for further new rape support centres
  • Enable court broadcasting

BBC political reporter Ed Lowther says: They began, promising a "rehabilitation revolution", aiming to bring fresh approaches to the vexed question of cutting reoffending rates. But ministers faced a backlash over plans to allow defendants in rape cases to remain anonymous and further controversies surrounded a move to shorten the sentences of criminals who pleaded guilty early, and a bid to introduce "secret courts" in cases involving national security. The status of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK has yet to be firmly tackled.

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