Labour has challenged the government to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support the creation of 400,000 jobs through a green recovery from the Covid crisis.
Ahead of this month’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Labour is calling for an economic recovery that will deliver high-skilled jobs in every part of the UK as part of the drive towards a clean economy. It is also calling for the low-carbon infrastructure of the future to be built in Britain.
Labour’s calls follow what the party describes as an extensive consultation with businesses, trade unions and other stakeholders around what a credible green recovery should look like, which received almost 2,000 responses. The consultation indicated that the government must:
Recover Jobs: By bringing forward planned capital investment and dedicating it to low-carbon sectors – at least £30bn in the next 18 months – as part of a rapid stimulus package to support up to an estimated 400,000 additional jobs.
Retrain Workers: By putting in place an emergency training programme to equip people affected by the unemployment crisis with the skills they need for the future greener economy.
Rebuild Business: By creating a National Investment Bank similar to those operating in other countries, focused on green investment, and by ensuring that public investment always aids the drive to net-zero rather than hindering it.
The consultation report details a number of areas where the party says progress has so far been limited in the UK, but where action now would support the creation of new jobs and tackle the climate and environmental crisis. They include:
- Investing in upgrading ports and shipyards for offshore wind supply chains;
- Expanding investment in Carbon Capture and Storage and hydrogen to help establish new opportunities for highly-skilled workers;
- Accelerating planned investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and ensuring the planning system better supports electric vehicle charging;
- Bringing forward orders for electric buses to help struggling manufacturers fill their order books;
- Introducing a National Nature Service, an employment programme to focus on nature conservation projects;
- Expanding energy efficiency and retrofit programmes, including in social housing;
- Ensuring that updated Sector Deals for sectors like automotive, steel and aerospace protect jobs and promote the shift to net zero;
- Bringing forward flooding protection investment, prioritising areas of need across the North West, Yorkshire and the East Midlands.
These, say Labour, should be delivered within a wider strategy that also meets the UK’s overall infrastructure needs at the upcoming Spending Review.
Ed Miliband, shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said: “We face a jobs emergency and a climate emergency. It’s time for a bold and ambitious plan to deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs which can also tackle the climate crisis.
“This is the right thing to do for so many people who are facing unemployment, the right thing to do for our economy to get a lead in the industries of the future and the right thing to do to build a better quality of life for people in our country.
“As other countries lead the way with a green recovery, Britain is hesitating. It’s time to end the dither and inaction, and start delivering now. It is what the British people deserve and what the crises we face demand.”
Anneliese Dodds, shadow chancellor of the exchequer, said: “Labour is ambitious for Britain. We can harness the opportunities for green growth if the Government takes the right decisions now. In recent years, and particularly during this crisis, our country has fallen behind in the drive to a cleaner, greener economy. We’ve seen far more rhetoric than action – and that has cost our country jobs.
“Future generations will judge us by the choices we make today to tackle the unemployment crisis and face up to the realities of the climate emergency. That’s why we need coordinated action to support 400,000 jobs of the future today, not tomorrow. Now’s the time to build it in Britain.”