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Labour would spend an extra £26bn on greener economy, Reeves tells conference

By our parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt

LABOUR will spend an extra £28 billion a year on building a greener economy if it wins the next general election, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the party’s annual conference today.  

In her keynote speech, Ms Reeves said the investment — which would continue until 2030 — would go into offshore wind farms, planting trees and developing batteries to help “protect our planet for future generations.”

The money includes the £3bn that shadow business secretary Ed Miliband promised in his speech to delegates on Sunday to help make the British steel industry carbon-neutral, she confirmed. 

Ms Reeves said: "I will be a responsible chancellor. I will be Britain’s first green chancellor.

"I will invest in good jobs in the green industries of the future, giga-factories to build batteries for electric vehicles, a thriving hydrogen industry, offshore wind with turbines made in Britain, planting trees and building flood defences, keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down.”

Rebecca Newson of Greenpeace UK said the spending commitment had “hit the right mark, [as] tackling the climate crisis has to be at the heart of what the Treasury does."

However, Ms Reeves did not commit Labour to nationalising energy supplies as part of a just green transition, a move overwhelmingly backed by delegates on Sunday when they approved two motions on the issue.

Ms Reeves pledged to help Britain’s pandemic-damaged high streets by phasing out business rates before scrapping them completely and replacing them with a new “modern” business tax — details of which have yet to be confirmed. 

Retail union Usdaw said the policy, combined with a push to make giant tech firms pay more tax, would “provide much-needed support” for struggling bricks-and-mortar retailers.

The former Cabinet Office minister also announced plans to abolish “hundreds” of tax breaks and set up an office of value for money to scrutinise government spending following numerous accusations of Tory cronyism during the pandemic.

Labour Against Private Schools welcomed a further commitment to strip non-state educational institutions of charitable status, calling it a “first step along the road to a fair and equitable system.”

But Ms Reeves did open the door to possible spending cuts in the future, saying that she was prepared to make “tough choices” if she felt that they were necessary. 

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