Anneliese Dodds set out Labour’s economic strategy at a LabourList and UK in a Changing Europe event this week, in which she said the country entered the Covid crisis “in a very weak state”.
Labour must deliver plans to “rebuild strong foundations”, enabling a “really strong recovery” that will “deliver security for families and communities” and “build the jobs of the future”, the Shadow Chancellor said.
Dodds told the event: “We know this crisis, unfortunately, will likely not be the only one that will impact on us. We may see future pandemics, but we have the climate crisis as well affecting us right now. So, we need to see radical change and change that must build that security for families and communities across the country.”
Referring to Kickstart, the government scheme for tackling youth unemployment, she revealed that new Labour policies would be unveiled because “we are really concerned about particularly that failure for young people”.
Dodds also made the case that upskilling and retraining should not be “trying to provide outsourced solutions” and that “success tends to be delivered by very locally- and regionally-rooted approaches” instead.
Asked about the British recovery bond policy announced by Keir Starmer last week, she said it “isn’t about providing stronger returns for individuals”, adding “this is not a regressive measure – it’s a progressive one”.
Instead, the idea was that it could “support our recovery” and help savers “to keep their money secure”, while “capitalising on that spirit of solidarity that we’ve seen in evidence during this crisis”.
Dodds spoke of a “big gulf in taxation, especially between businesses based in bricks and mortar and those based in clicks and the internet”, which has become “increasingly evident and frankly crass during this period”.
The opposition frontbencher said: “We’ve seen how some companies have been able to make very significant profits while others are struggling so much. I think, actually, there’s a variety of ways of tackling this.
“We’ve continuously focused on that divergence between the impact of business rates compared to a corporation tax regime, which is absolutely full of holes, where we’ve seen rampant tax avoidance for so long – something that I’ve pushed on time and time and time again.
“But also, this is about when it comes to providing support for business, not entrenching those gulfs. So, for example, Labour-run Wales said from the beginning that their business rates holiday wouldn’t be provided for the very biggest essential retailers.
“Those enormous supermarket chains that did make really big profits – instead that money will be focused on smaller businesses. So that’s what we’ve been calling for as well.”
On Brexit, the ex-MEP told the event that “there are core elements of the deal that are still not sorted out” – such as financial services – “so it’s definitely not the case that this is completely finished now, at all”.
She added that “very rapid” and “complex” trading across borders is “going to be more difficult with the deal that we’ve been presented with”, but there are also “big opportunities here that the UK can seize”.
Warning that “we are still not acting like there is a genuine climate emergency”, Dodds said the UK needs green stimulus, more energy efficiency in housing and “to build new industries of the future”.
The country should “support existing industries to decarbonise”, she said, and “really promote the natural world” while ensuring that “we really are protecting biodiversity in our country”.
Dodds told the LabourList/UK in a Changing Europe event: “We must take what I call the green pen, to all of government spending decisions. Again, we’re not acting like there’s an emergency.
“So you still see budget items going through with no consideration of whether they contribute to the goal of net zero or actually inhibit it. I think that means that far too often, governments just think that they can wait until a time very far in the future and take decisions right now that are bad for our environment, because they’ll just be able to offset them later.
“Well, I’m afraid that is not how the climate crisis works. We need that action to take place now. So as I say, it’s absolutely fundamental to Labour’s economic strategy as well as all the other elements of our operation, of course, as a Labour Party.”