Dodds to set out Labour’s “responsible framework for a resilient economy”

Elliot Chappell

Anneliese Dodds is set to outline a “responsible framework for a resilient economy” and unveil the Labour Party’s plan to deliver a “jobs-rich recovery from this crisis and a stronger, better future for the 2020s”.

Delivering the Mais lecture at City, University of London at 6pm on Wednesday – the first ever woman to do so – the Shadow Chancellor will describe the “responsible choices” that Labour would take to build a secure economy.

She is expected to commit the opposition party to a “responsible fiscal framework” and argue that a culture of short-term economic decision-making left the economy in a weak position to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dodds will say: “If we are to deliver a resilient, jobs-rich recovery from this crisis and a stronger, better future for the 2020s and beyond, we must make effective use of all economic policy-making levers at our disposal.

“That means an independent Bank of England setting monetary policy; a responsible government using fiscal policy to ensure public money is spent effectively and wisely; and action to improve resilience, including in the face of the climate crisis, and to deal with challenges to our economic competitiveness.”

Dodds will make the case that an emphasis on “value for money and financial control” will focus on real outcomes rather than “eye-catching announcements designed to raise expectations today, only for them to be dashed tomorrow”.

She is expected to criticise government policy over the course of the past ten years, but also to take aim at Rishi Sunak for compounding the damage of Covid by failing to understand the “link between health and the economy”.

“The public’s health has been opposed to economic outcomes,” she will argue. “Ignoring the impact of fears around the virus on consumption, and the much larger economic costs incurred by restrictions being imposed later than they should have been.

“One indication of this failure to understand the link between health and the economy was the Chancellor’s refusal to accept SAGE recommendations for earlier, stronger measures against coronavirus during the autumn.”

Dodds accused Sunak of being “absent” amid the health crisis last week and demanded he appear before parliament after he announced, in a short video message shared on social media, £4.6bn worth of measures including grants for some businesses.

His update on Monday, following the announcement of the third national lockdown in England, was criticised by the Shadow Chancellor for failing to provide new information on support that “businesses and workers desperately need”.

The Chancellor had outlined what he described as the government’s “comprehensive economic plan”. But he announced no new support despite the additional restrictions imposed by the government to reduce the spread of Covid.

Dodds has repeatedly criticised Sunak for “last-minute” U-turns during the pandemic, such as repeatedly extending the furlough scheme at the last possible moment, and she recently told Reuters that businesses deserve a “responsible government”.

Her comments on Wednesday also follow her speech to Bloomberg last month, in which she offered to work in a “genuine partnership” with the financial services sector to ensure a jobs-rich and clean recovery from Covid.

The Mais lecture, to be delivered remotely by Dodds this year, is considered the foremost annual event for the banking and finance community. Previous speakers have included Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and George Osborne.

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