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HomeWorldEuropeLabour Party's top policy priorities in its first year in power

Labour Party’s top policy priorities in its first year in power

Keir Starmer arrived in Downing Street as the UK’s new Prime Minister. Now he requires a legislative plan for the first year, which is due to be unveiled on 17 July. The first year’s priorities for the Labour Party cover different spectrums of British politics, according to POLITICO.

First year priorities include a workers’ rights bill, tenant reforms, planning reform to start this summer, tax changes from the autumn, strengthening devolution, a review of business taxes, increased appointments to the NHS, the state-owned energy company, the Armed Forces Commissioner and a review of defence spending. Experts say the funds to pay for all this should come from a relatively small tax rise of around £8.5 billion, but the sum is clearly not enough to cure a state groaning from years of austerity under the last Conservative government.

Economy and tax

  • Labour will need to undertake a wider spending review outlining future years. Labour has committed to two fiscal rules: the current budget must balance from year to year without borrowing for day-to-day revenue, and debt as a percentage of GDP must fall every year for five years.
  • No increases in the main rates of VAT, National Insurance, income tax or corporation tax. Party representatives have pledged to keep the four main taxes the same. But Labour has not promised to reduce the overall tax burden as it maintains a six-year “stealth” freeze on the income tax thresholds for salaries. The party has also not ruled out raising capital gains tax, stamp duty and other property taxes, and fuel duty.
  • “Highest sustained growth in the G7” and a “New Deal for Working People” are also among the Labour Party’s promises. The second involves an end to so-called “redundancy and re-employment,” a ban on some (but not all) zero hours contracts and new minimum wage requirements, including forcing companies to offer the same minimum rate to everyone over 18.

Housing and infrastructure

  • The Labour Party promises to build 1.5 million new homes over the next parliament and has also said it will allocate more green belt land for development. In addition, the party says it will abolish no-fault evictions under Section 21, as planned by the Tory government. The manifesto also promises to finally end the feudal tenancy system.
  • Planning reforms within months. Last November, Labour promised a plan within “months” of taking office that would set out new policies to cut red tape for significant infrastructure. Labour pledges to ensure that homes in the private rented sector meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2030, which aides say is in line with EPC standard C.
  • Britain’s regional rail networks will move from private to public ownership when contracts with existing operators expire. But private “rolling stock leasing companies” (ROSCOs) will retain most of the wagons and locomotives and lease them to Great British Railways.
  • The party re-commits £7.3 billion over the course of the parliament to modernising ports and supply chains (£1.8bn)… building new gigafactories (£1.5bn)… the steel industry (£2.5bn)… accelerating carbon capture (£1bn) and supporting green hydrogen production (£500m).

Poverty, benefits, pensions, health, social support

  • The Labour Party has promised to develop a strategy to reduce child poverty. This includes tackling zero hours contracts, energy bills and free breakfast clubs in every primary school at a cost of £375 million a year.
  • The party says it will review Universal Credit but with few details of the review. It has also promised to “reform or replace” the Work Capability Assessment and reform employment support, but also without detail. Starmer rejected calls to abolish the two-child limit on benefits introduced by the Tory government.
  • Pension support. Labour has committed to a triple pension lock – which raises the state pension by a maximum of 2.5 per cent, inflation or average earnings each year – for the full five-year term.
  • The Labour Party says the party commits to a New Zealand-style ban on people currently under 18 ever buying tobacco products.
  • The party has pledged to increase NHS appointments by 2 million a year (40,000 a week) by the end of the first year, and to meet the long-awaited NHS treatment target of 92 per cent of patients accepted within 18 weeks by mid-2029. Moreover, the NHS will purchase nursing home beds to free up hospital capacity.

Childcare, education

  • Rachel Reeves confirmed that VAT will be applied to public school fees as well as business rates for schools themselves in Labour’s first Budget. It will introduce reforms to the apprenticeship levy, giving firms more freedom to use up to half of government funding to cover the cost of apprenticeships or provide training for existing staff.
  • The party confirmed it will continue to roll out 30 hours of free childcare for children aged nine months and over from September 2025. However, a policy review is underway which could reform the system.
  • The Labour Party says it will convert 3,334 classrooms into nurseries, adding 100,000 nursery places in schools where there are spare places due to falling birth rates. The nurseries would then run either by private providers or by councils themselves. Also, the party has pledged for the first time to hire 6,500 more teachers in 2021, which aides say will come in a five-year parliament.

Police and crime

  • The manifesto reaffirms a commitment to mandatory standards of vetting, inspection and police misconduct, excluding anyone with a history of violence against women and girls. The party also committed to introducing a rape unit in every police force.
  • Labour repeated its previous pledge to “put 13,000 police and community support officers (PCSOs) back on duty” by the end of the five-year parliamentary term – of which 7,000 will be newly recruited PCs or PCSOs. Of the remainder, 3,000 will be voluntary special constables, and 3,000 officers will come from the government’s “progressive promotion” plans.
  • The party will also introduce “a new law to make a specific offence of assaults and abuse against shop workers and to make sure it’s taken seriously by the police.”

Gender and social issues

  • The Labour Party will reform the gender recognition process by removing the need for people to prove they have lived for two years in their intended gender, but will retain a two-year cooling-off period before applications are approved. Spouses will no longer need to give their consent, and the diagnosis will need to go to a single specialist registrar to sign off, rather than a panel headed by judges.
  • The manifesto reaffirms a commitment to the Act to”enshrine rights to equal pay, strengthen protections against “double discrimination” and eradicate other racial inequalities. Gender remains in the Equality Act, so the legislation will not amend to emphasise biological sex, but an alternative “clearer guidance” promises.

Climate, migration, other matters

  • The Labour Party will borrow an average of £3.5 billion a year to fund its Green Prosperity Plan. The party will ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Labour promised to reinstate this phase-out date, which took a backseat from the Conservatives.
  • The party has pledged to push for a new safety and veterinary agreement with the EU, which Brussels officials say would require oversight by the European Court of Justice – a major stumbling block in the past. Starmer, however, ruled out a return to freedom of movement, reversing his position in 2020.
  • Job shortages will be identified. A new body called Skills England will work with the existing Migration Advisory Committee to identify shortage occupations and initiate more training for British workers.
  • Rwanda plan cancelled: Starmer said he would cancel the Tory government’s plans to deport potential asylum seekers to Rwanda and revert to a UK review of each case. However, he will consider sending migrants to a third country while processing in the UK takes place.

Keir Starmer began forming his government immediately after walking through the doors of 10 Downing Street on Friday afternoon following a convincing election victory. He has plenty of lawmakers – his Labour Party won more than 400 seats in Thursday’s election, nearly two-thirds of the 650 seats in the House of Commons. Treasury chief Rachel Reeves, a former Bank of England economist and the first woman in the post, and David Lammy, a Harvard Law School graduate, the new foreign secretary, Britain’s top diplomat, will work alongside the new prime minister.

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