Home Featured News Starmer banks on economic growth to ‘rebuild Britain’

Starmer banks on economic growth to ‘rebuild Britain’

The Labour leader said the document - titled "Change" - would "turn the page decisively" on 14 years of Conservative government.

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Sir Keir Starmer has unveiled Labour’s election manifesto focusing on economic growth.

The Labour leader said the document – titledChange wouldturn the page decisivelyon 14 years of Conservative government.

The running theme is a bid to boost wealth creation through streamlining planning rules and increasing business investment.

It did not contain new policies beyond those already announced, with Sir Keir defending it as acredibleplan.

Indeed he sought to make a virtue of the lack of policy fireworks, adding he was runningto be prime minister, not a candidate to run the circus”.

Instead, the Labour leader used the launch event in Manchester to showcase already-announced policies he hopes will tempt voters to return his party to power.

These include setting up a new state-owned energy investment and generation company, hiring more police officers and renationalising nearly all passenger rail.

Sir Keir sought to draw a contrast with Labour’s last election manifesto in 2019, which contained policies such as giving workers a 10% stake in all large companies and free full-fibre broadband for all.

“The defining purpose of my Labour leadership has been to drag my party away from the dead end of gesture politics,he added.

“We don’t have a magic wand. But what we do have, what this manifesto represents, is a credible long-term plan.”

The party hopes to raise an additional £8.5bn in tax per year through policies including VAT on private school fees, a stamp duty surcharge on foreigners buying property, and a more extensive windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas firms.

But in a bid to defuse Tory attacks, it has ruled out raising rates of income tax, National Insurance, or VAT, presented as atax lockto voters.

It has also ruled out increasing the main rate of corporation tax, which companies pay on their profits, in an attempt to burnish its pro-business credentials.

It has not made the same commitment for capital gains tax, charged on profits from selling assets, saying instead its manifesto plans do notrequirea hike.

Policies included in the manifesto include:

  • introducing free breakfast clubs in primary schools in England
  • banning under-16s in England from buying high-caffeine energy drinks
  • £1.6bn to pay for more appointments in NHS hospitals, new CT scanners and extra dentist appointments

The document also contained new details of its plans to overhaul the House of Lords, specifying that peers over 80 will be told to step down. Plans to replace the chamber completely will, however, now be subject to consultation.

But it did not contain new details of its plans to overhaul the planning regime, which it has put front-and-centre of its plans to boost the economy, as well as a target to build 1.5m new homes in England over five years.

Already-announced plans in this area include streamlined rules for approving laboratories and digital infrastructure and restoring housing need targets for councils scrapped by the government in late 2022.

Workers’ rights plans

Labour’s manifesto was signed off at a party meeting last week but has failed to win the support of Unite, its biggest trade union backer, which argues the party’s scaled-back plans to improve workers’ rights do not go far enough.

The package, first unveiled in 2021, would scrap qualifying times for parental leave and sick pay rights when employees start a new job and boost flexible working rights wherereasonably feasible”.

But notably, a pledge to introduce collective wage bargainingacross the economyhas been replaced with a plan tostart byintroducing a fair pay agreement in the adult social care sector, before a potential roll-out in other areas.

The party has long argued that growth is the only responsible way to generate extra funding for public services and says it wants to make the UK the fastest-growing economy in the G7 group of rich nations if it wins power.

Arguing that it will inherit a difficult financial position if it enters office, it has made only a handful of additional spending commitments since the election was called three weeks ago.

These include £140m to convert 3,300 classrooms into nurseries, paid for by introducing VAT on private school fees, and £320m for repairing potholes, financed by deferring a new bypass from the A27 in Sussex.

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