Dodds: Labour seeking “genuine partnership” with financial services

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Anneliese Dodds is set to offer to work in a “genuine partnership” with financial services to ensure a clean and jobs-rich recovery from the pandemic while pushing the sector to go “further, faster” on delivering a green economy.

In a speech to Bloomberg on Wednesday morning, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor will emphasise the role of a “well-functioning, responsible banking sector” in the country’s recovery from the coronavirus economic crisis.

The opposition frontbencher is also expected to praise the sector for “blazing a trail” for a green economic recovery in response to the trebling in the amount of green bonds on the London Stock Exchange over the past three years.

Dodds will say: “A well-functioning, responsible banking sector can help people save and build their financial resilience. Pension funds can take the money workers set aside for tomorrow, and put it to work, backing the businesses of today.

“As the stewards of our largest businesses, asset managers can raise the standard of corporate behaviour. And insurance companies can direct the money we all put by in case the worst happens, and make sure it builds a better, greener future.”

But on the further steps that the financial services sector could take to help deliver a clean Covid recovery and a greener economy in the UK, the Shadow Chancellor is expected to add: “We need to go further, faster.

“That’s why Labour has called for it to be mandatory for all listed companies to report in line with the recommendations of the task force on climate-related disclosures next year, when the UK hosts the COP26 conference.

“And it’s why we sought to amend the pension schemes bill – working hand in hand with pensions providers – so that pension schemes become aligned with the Paris agreement.”

The government voted down a Labour amendment to the pension schemes bill that would have required schemes in the UK to develop strategies to comply with the Paris agreement on climate change by 2050 “or sooner”.

Dodds will use the Bloomberg speech to highlight the uncertainty created by government decisions amid the health crisis. Echoing her speech to Reuters last week, Dodds will argue that companies deserve “responsible government”.

She will say: “Politicians and financial firms should be working hand-in-hand to lay the groundwork for our recovery. I want us to have a genuine partnership so that together we can deliver security and opportunity for every part of the country.”

The Shadow Chancellor told attendees at an online event hosted by Reuters last week, shortly before the spending review, that the economic statement from Rishi Sunak was the “moment to make responsible choices”.

Dodds will on Wednesday discuss the uncertainty created by last-minute changes to support schemes, inadequate business support for those in Tier 3 and silence on growing debt for companies, plans for Project Birch and Brexit arrangements.

Through Project Birch, the government said at the beginning of the pandemic that it would step in and make taxpayer support available to companies struggling in the crisis and unable to borrow the necessary money to survive.

The Labour spokesperson on the economy has repeatedly criticised her Tory counterpart Rishi Sunak for “running to keep up”, emphasising the chaotic nature of government support provided throughout the Covid pandemic.

After the U-turn on extending furlough, Dodds stressed that while the Chancellor can “change his mind at the last minute”, businesses cannot. She criticised Sunak for causing avoidable redundancies by failing to let businesses plan.

Labour warned on Monday that the latest business grants schemes to be introduced by the government in the pandemic will “level down” the poorest areas and “betrays some of the most deprived communities under the toughest restrictions”.

The party highlighted that through the ‘additional restrictions grant’, which makes a one-off £20-per-head payment to councils, some of the poorest areas will receive the same or less funding than the richest despite being set to go into higher tiers.

More from LabourList