'Rebuild has to start from ground up,' Labour's Anneliese Dodds says, and 'local people must have skin in the game'

29 March 2024, 08:53 | Updated: 29 March 2024, 08:54

Anneliese Dodds said Labour would make sure local people have 'skin in the game' with tackling inequality
Anneliese Dodds said Labour would make sure local people have 'skin in the game' with tackling inequality. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Labour's Anneliese Dodds has said that tackling inequality in the British regions must "start from the ground up".

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The party chairwoman Ms Dodds was speaking after Sir Keir Starmer announced his plan to foster wealth creation outside of London, the south-east and the major cities, in a revival of one of Boris Johnson's key pledges.

Ms Dodds told LBC's Matthew Wright that Labour would ensure that every area had its own local growth plan.

She said: That would mean that people have got the skin in the game in different communities - local businesses, local government, mayors where we have them, those different organisations coming together to drive growth, because we've not seen that kind of pulling together being allowed over recent years under the current government."

Ms Dodds said that Labour would end the "chop and change" of different local authorities competing for money to fund local projects.

Read more: Anneliese Dodds says Labour will hire more NHS staff to cut cancer waiting times, after Kate reveals diagnosis

Read more: ‘Levelling up doesn't happen by magic’: Devolution is ‘essential for tackling inequality’, Keir Starmer says

Anneliese Dodds
Anneliese Dodds. Picture: Getty

She said that instead of "the bidding wars between different areas over what have often been pretty small pots of money... instead you [would] have long term financial settlements for local government.

Ms Dodds said that "stronger audits" would also be in place, so "that we really know that that money was getting where it needed to go."

"But those measures would help us to start to rebuild. And... that rebuilding has got to start from the ground up."

Failure to level up Britain would be 'catastrophic' for Labour, Wes Streeting tells LBC

It comes after her colleague, the shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, said that failing to tackle inequality has been "catastrophic" for the Conservatives.

Speaking to LBC's Andrew Marr, he said: "The fundamental problem for Rishi Sunak is that when he came in after Liz Truss' catastrophic leadership, he made five key pledges to the country and he hasn't delivered them.

"Ultimately, that is how the British people is going to judge him. For Labour, levelling up is a Labour end that can't be achieved through Conservative means."

Pressed by Andrew on how Labour will pay for the agenda, Streeting vowed that his party would to do so via a combination of investment reform, reworking how government spends money and private sector investment.

On Thursdsay, Sir Keir Starmer vowed to give regional authorities more powers under a Labour government, as he declared that "levelling up doesn't happen by magic".

Keir Starmer vows to 'level up Britain'
Keir Starmer vows to 'level up Britain'. Picture: Getty

"Devolution is absolutely essential for taking on regional inequality," he said in a speech in Dudley launching Labour's local election campaign.

"Levelling up doesn't happen by magic, but the energy and drive must always come from the place itself," he said, promising a "full-fat approach to devolution".

Read More: ‘Levelling up doesn't happen by magic’: Devolution is ‘essential for tackling inequality’, Keir Starmer says

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Sir Keir said that Labour would launch a new industrial strategy that would create 650,000 jobs to "relight the fires of renewal in communities" like Dudley.

Some of these would be in car factory "gigafactories" in the Midlands, "clean steel" in Sheffield, and ports to support the "offshore boom in the north".

Sir Keir said that only 10% of the money set aside for levelling up projects had been allocated so far, and promised to unlock more of it.

Levelling Up was a key part of Boris Johnson's promise
Levelling Up was a key part of Boris Johnson's promise. Picture: Alamy

But he would not be drawn on new money for local authorities, claiming that there was no "magic money tree" with the Conservatives having "broken the economy".

He said: "I can't pretend that we can turn the taps on, pretend that damage hasn't been done to the economy, it has. The way out of that is to grow our economy".

He said that Conservatives had not done the "hard yards" on levelling up."It's about people with skin in the game and playing their full part, but alongside a national strategy that works.

"That is hard yards. And my frustration of the past 14 years, but particularly since 2019, is that in saying levelling up, the Government was tapping into something real that people yearned for, but they didn't have a viable plan.

"And they didn't do the hard yards. That's unforgivable."

"And we intend to turn that around and make sure that we can make that connection real and change places across the Black Country."

Sir Keir said he hoped to have been launching a general election campaign for a May vote, but said Rishi Sunak of "bottled it".

"He wants one last drawn-out summer tour with his beloved helicopter," he said. "So we need to send him another message, show his party once again that their time is up, the dithering must stop, the date must be set.