Rachel Reeves unveils plan to speed up infrastructure planning to revive economy as Starmer warns against complacency

8 October 2023, 23:37 | Updated: 8 October 2023, 23:41

Rachel Reeves unveiled its package of measures to speed up infrastructure projects at Labour's conference in Liverpool
Rachel Reeves unveiled its package of measures to speed up infrastructure projects at Labour's conference in Liverpool. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves says Labour will speed up decisions on national infrastructure projects to review "sluggish" UK economy.

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The shadow chancellor will use her speech at Labour's annual conference in Liverpool on Monday to pledge that the party will overhaul the UK's "antiquated planning system" in order to "get Britain building again".

Decision times for major infrastructure projects have increased by 65% since 2012, now taking four years, she will say, promising a "once-in-a-generation" set of reforms to speed this up.

Read More: Starmer unveils £1.5bn plan for weekend doctors as he warns party to not 'get giddy' on poll lead at conference

The changes would include updating all national policy statements, some of which have not been revised for over a decade, within the first six months of Labour entering office.

These would detail what types of projects the country needs while weaving considerations about economic growth and net zero into the planning system, according to Labour.

Planning applications would be fast-tracked for battery factories, laboratories and 5G infrastructure.

The Shadow Chancellor will launch the policy as part of her speech today in Liverpool at Labour's conference.
The Shadow Chancellor will launch the policy as part of her speech today in Liverpool at Labour's conference. Picture: Getty

The latest announcement comes as part of a policy blitz by Labour as part of its annual conference in Liverpool.

Yesterday, deputy leader Angela Rayner unveiled Labour's plans for housing - as Keir Starmer warns his party to not "get giddy" as it looks set to return to power.

Ms Rayner told a packed conference hall that Labour wants to "stare right back" to Tories who look down on council tenants.

Speaking as her party's Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, the fire-brand MP said Labour will give “the biggest boost to affordable and social housing for a generation, and that includes council housing”.

Ms Rayner added: “The Tories look down on people living in social housing. Well, I say, let’s stare right back and never be ashamed.”

Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer want to speed up decisions on national infrastructure projects to review "sluggish" UK economy
Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer want to speed up decisions on national infrastructure projects to review "sluggish" UK economy. Picture: Getty

She also called for wage boosts as she said the UK is not a "trickle-down nation".

The major announcement comes after Sir Keir Starmer unveiled his £1.5bn plan to save the NHS - by using closed tax loopholes to fund overtime for doctors and nurses to clear a backlog of appointments caused by the pandemic.

Sir Keir told the Observer that the prospect of next year's general election should not see their supporters getting high on the thought of power.

He said that the party need to "go up another gear" to win the election and form their first Government since 2010.

Read More: ‘How much can Rishi Sunak knock down before Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minister?, asks James O’Brien

Read More: Rishi Sunak wants to be the 'change candidate' - but will voters buy it?

The Labour leader also set out his plans to end the non-domicile tax status to fund overtime payments for doctors and nurses in order to provide scans and operations on the weekend to clear pandemic backlogs.

Starmer has unveiled his plans today as he seeks to launch his policy base for the next general election at the Labour conference in Liverpool
Starmer has unveiled his plans today as he seeks to launch his policy base for the next general election at the Labour conference in Liverpool. Picture: Getty
Marina Wheeler, Boris Johnson's ex-wife, will join the Labour cause as a whistleblowing tsar in a major Starmer coup
Marina Wheeler, Boris Johnson's ex-wife, will join the Labour cause as a whistleblowing tsar in a major Starmer coup. Picture: Getty

At the start of Labour's conference in Liverpool, he told the Sunday Mirror: “I think everybody knows someone who’s on the NHS waiting list. And I’m certainly not immune from that.

"This is a period of high anxiety for individuals – huge personal discomfort in many cases."

Sir Keir's Labour enjoys a double-digit lead in the polls and remains on track for a triple-digit majority if an election was held tomorrow.

Starmer is also set to announce Marina Wheeler KC, top lawyer and Boris Johnson's ex-wife, as a "whistleblowing tsar" to reform employment rights.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will detail Labour’s plans for economic growth on Monday, before Sir Keir’s keynote address on Tuesday.

This could mean cutting energy bills for people who live near onshore wind farms or electricity pylons.

“I think that people deserve something in return,” she told the paper. “It’s the same with housing.”

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