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NEWS

‘Get Britain building again’, UK’s Labour sets out growth plan

By Elizabeth Piper, Alistair Smout and Andrew MacAskill

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour Party will promise on Monday to get the country building again if elected to government, saying the way to spur much-needed economic growth is to smooth the path for the construction of new infrastructure.

In a speech to the party’s annual conference in the northern English city of Liverpool, finance policy chief Rachel Reeves will set out plans to boost growth, critical to Labour’s plans to better finance Britain’s struggling public services.

She will also take direct aim at the ruling Conservatives, or Tories, who cancelled part of a high-speed rail project after 2.3 billion pounds had already been spent on it, and will say “the single biggest obstacle” to building in Britain was government planning rules.

With Labour commanding a hefty lead in opinion polls before an election next year, the party has both wooed companies and is being wooed by them, doubling capacity at its “business day” event which still has a waiting list of hopefuls.

“If we want to spur investment, restore economic security, and revive growth. Then we must get Britain building again,” Reeves will say, according to excerpts of her speech.

“If the Tories won’t build, if the Tories can’t build, then we will. Taking head on the obstacles presented by our antiquated planning system.”

She will outline Labour’s plans to ease the building of critical infrastructure for energy, transport and technology, by speeding up its planning within the first six months of government, fast-tracking the planning process for priority growth areas and providing incentives to local communities.

Pledging to restore business investment as a share of gross domestic product to the level under the last Labour government in 1997 to 2010, she will say this would mean an additional 50 billion pounds more every year in the British economy by the end of the decade – the equivalent to 1,700 pounds per household.

Labour has moved to cast off its image as a spendthrift party, promising to stick to a “non-negotiable” set of fiscal rules to ensure the party does not borrow to fund day-to-day spending and to set a budget every year by the end of November.

After spending months setting out their stall to city financiers and business small and large across Britain, their charm offensive has paid off.

Senior business leaders, including the bosses of companies such as Britain’s energy supplier Octopus and Microsoft, will attend Labour’s business day – a week after the Conservatives staged their own event to mixed reviews.

Labour business policy chief, Jonathan Reynolds, will tell the event: “Labour is now the undisputed party of business.”

 

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Alex Richardson)

 

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