As we look at what a post-pandemic recovery looks like, many of us will reflect on our local economies: our nearest high street, local supermarkets and independent businesses, and how they have been hit in the last 15 months.
And while we continue to see the impact of Covid-19 on our local communities, we have also been confronted by the challenges facing us as a country: how we shape a new future post-Brexit, how we strengthen our public services after 11 years of underfunding and outsourcing, and how we will tackle the climate crisis and create decent jobs in the process.
That’s why I was proud to announce Labour’s pledge on Sunday that we will buy, make and sell more in Britain, to start setting out how we would create a more secure economy that addresses concerns on a local and a national level.
We’ll do this through public procurement – by using environmental and social clauses in contracts to take into account the real value for our economy that businesses winning that work bring – whether investing in the jobs and skills of the future, or helping curb carbon emissions. That won’t just raise standards, it will also help us lead on those better standards across the world as a global trading nation, in collaboration with others who share our values and who we want to trade with.
We’ll help reshore jobs too, and fix some of the problems in the government’s Brexit deal that are holding so many British exporters back while the government just stand idly by. Labour’s plan will help get our economy firing on all cylinders by giving people new skills for the jobs of the future – from offshore wind to digital media and film – here in the UK, bringing resilience back to our economy and public services, and helping our high streets thrive again.
What’s most exciting about our approach is that we know it works on a local level, because our Labour metro mayors in power are already putting these principles it in action, whereas the Conservative government is selling British businesses and jobs down the river.
In Liverpool – where I’ll be today with city region metro mayor Steve Rotheram – there is a huge drive by the mayoralty to build the greenest, fairest and most inclusive economy possible, with a real focus on ensuring that money spent in the Liverpool City region stays in the region and benefits their communities.
We’ll be visiting Farm Urban, where science and food production are fused to develop the most efficient ways to grow food in urban environments. This is the kind of innovation and future industry that are crucial for our economy as we look to the future, and the government should be focusing on growing skills like these.
In London, Sadiq Khan’s green transport policies are supporting businesses and jobs across the UK – from the Yorkshire factory that builds state-of-the-art electric buses, to the plant in Runcorn that produces the hydrogen for their new zero-emissions hydrogen buses.
In Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham’s Good Employment Charter is helping employers to develop good jobs – and by giving additional weighting to bids delivering social value in procurement, he is raising standards and nurturing the skills of the future in the region.
North of Tyne, Jamie Driscoll has made sure that 100% of the mayoralty’s suppliers are based in the region, and every job he creates is backed by a Good Work Pledge that guarantees the Real Living Wage and fair employment practices.
In South Yorkshire, Dan Jarvis is supporting the local economy by reforming spending and reducing barriers to smaller companies that might otherwise lose out, aiming to increase the amount spent both in Britain and locally.
Our newest metro mayors have also hit the ground running. In West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin has just committed to developing the region’s very first Fair Work Charter; in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Nik Johnson is focused on boosting local businesses; and in the West of England, Dan Norris is holding a jobs and skills summit with businesses and trade unions, to drive forward taking advantage of the top notch produced in the fields of Somerset and Gloucestershire.
It’s absolutely crucial for our economy that we start building a path to a more secure and resilient recovery, so that all British industries thrive, working conditions and opportunities improve, and that we invest properly in those skills of the future we need to be able to compete on the global stage. As Labour’s Chancellor in government, that would be a key priority for me.
Where Labour is in power, our councils and mayors are already doing great things, and we continue to learn and take inspiration from the Welsh Labour government. With our new plan and with Labour in power at Westminster, there would be no stopping us from creating the economy and jobs of the future we all deserve.