Labour manifesto promises infrastructure and planning overhaul


The Labour Party has promised to overhaul planning rules and fund infrastructure in a bid to revive the economy.

In a 132-page manifesto published ahead of the 4 July general election, the Labour Party pledged to shred planning constraints for infrastructure and housing, adding that it would reform delivery of infrastructure and use its muscle to ensure 1.5 million homes are built (see more below).

It also pledged to create a new national wealth fund to deliver “growth and clean energy missions, making transformative investments across every part of the country”. This fund would get £7.3bn of public sector money over the next parliament and would be part-funded by a new wealth tax – worth £1.2bn – on big oil and gas businesses.

Labour said the wealth fund would attract £3 of private sector investment for every £1 spent, with money “directly invest[ed] in ports, hydrogen and industrial clusters” around the country.

Elsewhere, the party, led by Keir Starmer (pictured), promised to set up Skills England, which it said would bring together business, training providers and trade unions to develop a new workforce; the party pledge to create 650,000 extra jobs in green energy by 2030. Labour would also consult on the forthcoming Growth and Skills Levy, which is set to replace the Apprenticeship Levy, to “ensure qualifications offer value for money”.

Labour said it would also “take action to ensure small businesses and the self-employed are paid on time”, adding that it would “retain a permanent full expensing system for capital investment and the annual investment allowance for small business”.

Planning and housing

Labour pledged to overhaul planning laws, which it said “act as a major brake on economic growth”.

The party said it would build 1.5 million new homes over the next five-year parliament, restoring mandatory housing targets and “mak[ing] full use of intervention powers to build the houses we need”.

The party pledged to build a “new generation of new towns” and to strengthen planning laws to require all developments to provide more council homes. That would provide the “biggest increase in social and affordable housebuilding in a generation”, Labour said.

The party said it would take a “brownfield first approach” to building homes, but added it would “take a more strategic approach to greenbelt land designation and release to build more homes in the right places”.

Labour also pledged to increase stamp duty by 1 per cent on all homes bought by non-UK residents, which would raise £40m. Half of that will go towards appointing 300 new planning officers across the UK, it said.

Infrastructure

Labour announced it would launch a 10-year infrastructure strategy to help “guide investment plans and give the private sector certainty about the project pipeline”.

The party said it would work with business to tackle challenges faced on project delivery, while a new National Infrastructure and Service Transformation Authority, made up of existing bodies, will “set strategic infrastructure priorities and oversee the design, scope and delivery of projects”.

The party also addressed delays to substantial road projects “that are never delivered”, promising to maintain and renew the road network.

In particular, it promised to fix one million additional potholes across England every year in the next parliament, funded by deferring the controversial A27 bypass, which it described as “poor value for money”. National Highways already deferred its plans for the £320m bypass to RIS3 last August.

Though it did not supply many details, the party pledged to “improve rail connectivity across the north”, building on its earlier promise to launch Great British Railways. The new public-sector organisation will be responsible for investment, operational delivery and improving the quality of the delivery for passengers, and will work with the publicly-owned rail operators in Wales and Scotland.

Labour also reiterated its pledge to set up Great British Energy, which will also be funded by the windfall tax and borrowing. The organisation will have a budget of £8.3bn across the parliament.

The manifesto addressed a booming part of the construction sector, too, in gigafactories – pledging £1.5bn to build new battery factories focusing on the automotive industry. That came alongside a £1.8bn pledge to upgrade ports and their supply chains, and a £1bn fund for carbon capture deployment.



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