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Labour vows to spend £28bn a year on ‘green jobs’ to help defeat the climate emergency

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves to exceed John McDonnell’s spending plans, to create work ‘of the future’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 27 September 2021 16:08 BST
Labour vows to spend £28bn a year on ‘green jobs’ to help defeat the climate emergency

Labour would spend £28bn a year on creating green jobs to help defeat the climate emergency, Rachel Reeves has announced, declaring: “I will be Britain’s first green chancellor.”

In her conference speech, the shadow chancellor vowed to exceed the big-spending plans of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, to create the work “of the future”.

“Gigafactories to build batteries for electric vehicles, a thriving hydrogen industry, offshore wind with turbines made in Britain, planting trees and building flood defences,” Ms Reeves pledged.

“Keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down; good new jobs in communities throughout Britain. In other words: protecting and strengthening our everyday economy.”

Promising her “climate investment pledge” would top up Tory capital spending plans on the transition by £28bn a year, she added: “I will be a responsible chancellor. I will be Britain’s first green chancellor.”

In the speech, Ms Reeves also promised to row back “the Tories’ pandemic outsourcing bonanza”, if Labour wins the next general election.

She condemned Covid contracts going to Tory donors, hundreds of millions of pounds being wasted on deliveries that failed to arrive and “£30m to Matt Hancock’s pub landlord”.

“I say today: To those who have secured Covid contracts and have not delivered. I give you notice – we expect that money back.

“We will set up a team to go through every line of every failed contract where value was not delivered, and claw back every penny of taxpayers’ money we possibly can.

“Because that money belongs in our police. It belongs in our schools and it belongs in our NHS.”

The climate spending pledge – £28bn a year until the end of the decade – exceeds Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell’s plans, at the last election, of £25bn a year.

It follows a warning by the Treasury watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, that delaying the switch to the green transition would double the eventual cost.

It was welcomed by Greenpeace as rightly putting tackling the climate crisis “at the heart of what the Treasury does”.

“Crucially, £28bn per year extra climate investment is the scale of funding we so desperately need,” said Rebecca Newsom, the group’s head of politics.

“Rachel Reeves has laid down the gauntlet, the question is whether the chancellor Rishi Sunak can respond in kind.”

The shadow chancellor also lashed out at “the state of things under the Tories”, saying: “Empty shelves in our supermarkets. Snaking queues at petrol stations. Businesses waiting weeks for materials.”

She continued: “The NHS forced to ration its blood tests. Government having to issue reassurances that it can even keep the lights on. Real anxiety for families and businesses – and Rishi Sunak missing in action.

“This government is incompetent, in denial, careless and chaotic. They are responsible for all this mess. The Tories have lost control.”

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