First speech

Reeves in pledge to ‘fix foundations of economy’

Rachel Reeves delivering her first speech as Chancellor

Business leaders from some of Britain’s key industries today heard Rachel Reeves vow to “fix the foundations of the economy” and make every part of the country better off.

Delivering her first speech as Chancellor, Ms Reeves said there is “no time to waste” on delivering change, pledging to reverse “the legacy of 14years of chaos and economic irresponsibility”.

The first woman to hold the role told the gathering in London that had the UK economy grown at the average rate of OECD economies since 2010, it would have been over £140 billion larger.

“This could have brought in an additional £58 billion in tax revenues last year alone to sustain our public services,” she said. “It falls to this new Government to fix the foundations.”

Ms Reeves added: “Sustained economic growth is the only route to improving the prosperity of our country and the living standards of working people.

“Where governments have been unwilling to take the difficult decisions to deliver growth – or have waited too long to act – I will deliver.

“It is now a national mission. There is no time to waste.”

She announced the restoration of mandatory local housebuilding targets while relaxing planning restrictions on building on “ugly” parts of the green belt, with an enhanced presumption in favour of development. Labour has pledged to have 1.5 million homes built over the course of this parliament.

Rachel Reeves at NatWest
Rachel Reeves with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar during election campaign (pic: Terry Murden)

There will be a will lift the ban on new onshore wind turbines. Labour wants the changes in place by autumn.

However, planning is a devolved issue and it will rest on the Scottish Government to set its own targets.

Martha Lane Fox, president of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Fixing the foundations of the economy can provide businesses with the stability and certainty they need to unleash a wave of investment to create growth and new jobs.

“Labour’s pledges to create an industrial strategy, improve trade relations with the EU, and boost skills training all have capacity to make a huge difference.”

Keith Anderson, chief executive at Scottish Power, said: “I welcome the clear sense of urgency and direction set out by the Chancellor today.

“Prioritising clean energy infrastructure and building at speed and at scale will unleash strong economic growth across the country.

“If the UK can halve the time it takes to get renewables, electricity grid and storage projects through the planning system, we’ll look to double our investment over the coming years.”

David Thomas, chief executive at Barratt Developments, said: “Building more homes will bring huge economic and social benefits to the UK, and it is vital that local and central government are united with industry to plan positively to deliver high quality new homes and developments across the country.”

Andrea Rossi, chief executive at M&G, said: “As a major investor in the real economy we welcome efforts to provide long-term policy certainty and the ambition to get Britain building.

“Speed and ambition are crucial. By providing clarity on infrastructure priorities, combined with a swifter planning system, we can deliver investment, kick-start the economy and secure good returns for UK pension policy holders.”   

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