Ed Miliband has set out his six goals for Britain’s future in his speech to the Labour conference. So how do some of his claims fare under closer scrutiny?
This is true for young people under 19. The number starting apprenticeships fell from 129,900 in the 2011/12 academic year to 114,500 in the 2012/13 academic year. The apparent small fall from the previous year is possibly due to a minor change in the way they were counted.
Apprenticeship starts for those aged 19-24 and 25 upwards increased between 2010/11 and 2011/12 before remaining at a similar level in 2012/13, with the biggest increase among those aged over 25.
The Institute for Public Policy Research has suggested the increase could be due in part to companies shifting their employees onto apprenticeships in order to access government funding.
Claim Two: Labour will ensure people’s wages grow in line with the economy
There are all sorts of ways to measure the “cost of living” but one of the most common is to compare the rises in prices and wages.
Real wages – wages adjusted for prices – have been falling since 2008 as price rises have outstripped wage increases.
This measure alone is limited: it doesn’t say anything about how household incomes have changed – this includes, for instance, the effects of tax and benefit changes.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates the median income fell by 5.8% between 2009-10 and 2012-13.
Claim Three: Housebuilding is at its lowest since the 1920s
This is correct, apart from housebuilding during Second World War, according to figures for England and Wales .
Ed Miliband said a Labour government would aim to double the number of first-time buyers who get on the housing ladder each year by 2025.
Historical data to 2010 suggests the number of first-time buyers is at a fairly low level, with about 200,000 loans given to first-time buyers in 2010.
This excludes those buying a house outright for the first time, without a mortgage.
More recent data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders suggests the figure has been increasing, with first-time buyer loans in June 2014 up 18% on the same time in 2013, but there is no annual data available to compare back.
Claim Four: Britain is behind Germany , Japan , the US, India and China for low-carbon green technologies and services.
According to government figures, in 2011/12 the UK was ranked sixth globally overall for its low carbon and environmental goods and services sector, with the US, China , Japan , India and Germany making up the top five.
So although this claim seems to be correct, these are the only countries that the UK is behind.
The UK’s green goods and services market was valued at just over £128bn in 2011/12, £17bn less than Germany but around £24bn more than France (which was 7th).
Claim Five: One in five workers finds themselves on low pay
The average UK worker earns about £11.62 an hour, and just over 20% earn less than two-thirds of that (£7.75), often defined as “low pay”.
This is very close to the Living Wage currently set at £7.65 nationally (apart from a higher rate for London ).
Just over five million people in the UK earn the Living Wage or less; again close to one in five of all UK workers.
The Minimum Wage represents lower pay still. Ed Miliband has pledged this will rise to £8 by 2020 under a Labour government.
This is likely to be a real-terms increase if inflation continues at current levels. For the last few years, the Minimum Wage has increased by less than inflation.
Claim Six: One in four people have to wait a week or more for a GP appointment.
The latest survey for NHS England shows 14% of those who tried to see or speak to someone at their GP surgery got an appointment a week or more after they phoned up, while 11% didn’t get one at all.
But not everybody wanted an appointment straight away – 14% of patients didn’t have a particular day in mind for an appointment, and 6% wanted an appointment a week or more later.