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Labour manifesto targets growth and partnering with business

The 2024 Labour Manifesto titled, ‘Change’ is focussing on ‘partnership’ and ‘wealth creation’, with a clear ambition that Labour will ‘rebuild the country’. Although not littered with specific policies, it does set out a strategy for Sir Keir’s ambition under a theme of ‘bold national renewal.’

Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said:

 “Labour have accepted the blindingly obvious; that growth requires bold action. And one of those bold actions must be to fix the planning process, not just for housing but energy, public services, employers, transport and many other strategic ambitions that have been ignored over these past two decades.

Thankfully, this appears a core component of the Labour manifesto and if they win the general election, and more importantly implement their promised reforms, the UK can look forward to more homes and jobs, better infrastructure and transport, stronger placemaking, certainty for investors and levelling up in practice, rather than as a slogan. In turn, this wealth creation will mean higher tax revenues and more money available for public services.

The UK needs a plan for growth and Labour appear committed to implementing one.”

The Labour Manifesto takes the premise of enabling change through strategic reforms and runs this narrative as a theme across eleven chapters.

The main points for construction are as follows:

  • Immediately update the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
  • 1.5 million homes over the next parliament
  • Restore mandatory housing targets
  • Ensure local authorities have up to date local plans and strengthen the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
  • Brownfield first but accept it is not enough to meet our needs
  • Strategic greenbelt land designation and implement a greybelt land definition
  • Further devolution to local authorities and regions
  • Reform procurement rules to better favour SMEs
  • Set up Great British Energy as a publicly owned, clean power company
  • Maintain and renew road network, embedding public and active travel
  • Reform compulsory purchase compensation rules and improve land assembly
  • Create a mission driven new ‘Industrial Strategy’ and ‘Local Growth Plans’
  • National Wealth Fund, with private sector joint venture strategies
  • Support SMEs with action on late payment and easier access to capital
  • Transform Further Education colleges into specialist Technical Excellence Colleges

Rico Wojtulewicz, Head of Policy and Market Insight at the NFB, said:

“Labour appears to understand how damaging a broken planning system is for society, the economy and growth. For the construction industry this means businesses will finally be able to plan, rather than operate hand to mouth. Such a change will ensure cashflow certainty for businesses reinvestment, which in practice means a reduction in construction insolvency, more directly employed labour and apprenticeships, and businesses getting back to constructing, rather than spending ninety percent of their time getting permission to start building.

However, we have been here before with Robert Jenrick MP’s, ‘Planning for the Future,’ white paper, which was shelved after the Conservative government lost a by-election and backbenchers revolted over land use.

It is therefore right to highlight some concerns over the lack of detail on specific policy positions. For instance, does ‘promote biodiversity’ mean keep the broken Biodiversity Net Gain Policy? Will ‘unlocking the building of homes affected by nutrient neutrality’ mean implementing Welsh Labour’s approach of tackling pollution at source and polluters, rather than taxing the non-polluting housebuilder? Will late payers be penalised or merely shamed?

Labour’s Manifesto is a vision of growth that business can buy into because it recognises the role fair regulation plays in enabling opportunity

A fair regulatory environment will do more for business and the nations finances than any tax cuts because without an opportunity positive environment, growth and investment isn’t possible. In Labour, we might finally have a political party that is strong enough to accept that reality.”

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