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Labour not able to immediately ‘turn things around’ after election – shadow chancellor

10 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves leaving BBC Broadcasting House in London. Photo Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Rachel Reeves said she is “under no illusions” about the scale of the public spending challenge she will face if she becomes chancellor, as she declined to rule out real-term cuts to some departments.

The shadow chancellor said she has to be “honest that we’re not going to be able to turn things around straight away”, but said the Labour Party would keep its promises on education and health spending and would hope to secure more revenue through economic growth.

Ms Reeves acknowledged that “public services need more money” but a spending review, which would set departmental budgets, is not something she can do from opposition.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has said the current Government plans “imply no real growth in public spending per person over the next five years”, while the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies accused both the Conservatives and Labour of a “conspiracy of silence” about public spending after the election.


On BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Ms Reeves was asked to confirm whether there would be real-terms cuts to some government spending.

She replied: “It is clear that the inheritance that a Labour government would have if we do win the next election will be the worst since the Second World War.

“And I have to be honest that we’re not going to be able to turn things around straight away. But we will get to work on all of that.”

She confirmed that plans for school breakfast clubs and measures to reduce NHS waiting lists would still go ahead, even though Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has already implemented the measures to tax non-doms which would have paid for them and instead put the money towards a cut in national insurance.

“I do know that public services need more money – that’s why we will make that initial injection,” she said.

National wealth fund

And she said Labour’s plans for a national wealth fund to bring in private investment in low-carbon projects would boost growth and increase tax revenue for the state.

She said Labour measures to tax private equity executives and impose VAT and business rates on private schools would also generate cash for public services.

Ms Reeves said she would be scouring government documents to identify additional funding streams and stressed “everything in our manifesto will be fully costed and fully funded”.

But she said she is “under no illusions about the scale of the inheritance and I do need to be honest that it’s going to take a while to turn around the challenges that we see”.

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4 months ago

Couple of issues. Long term damage with poor investment means the starting point if Labour win is from the very bottom. Tory party is also following a scorched earth policy. Their plan is a term after Labour and the Tories are basically wrecking the place now and selling off all they can and baking in financial penalties should labour try to do anything decent.

Next on the Tory party hit list are the sick and national insurance and extremists but only the extremists they don’t like, Tory extremists are OK. (see Gove today)

Karen Lewis
Karen Lewis
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Just as the Tories did last time. Cut everything and sell everything but still no money in the pot. Strange how the politicians all finish up as millionaires.

Karen Lewis
Karen Lewis
4 months ago

Their not able to turn things around immediately except for the sick and disabled as they’re coming into power with the same disabled hit list as Blair had, when people, like myself, whose body is destroyed by rheumatoid arthritis made a miraculous recovered when seen by the quack they sent out to stop all benefit. One woman died 2 weeks after he found he fit. Heads down everyone if you can.

4 months ago

Well let’s have a plan. Set out a list of priorities and a schedule of costs and spending budgets. Let’s share the full detail of how much remedial, corrective action is necessary before we even get to the ” nice to have” stuff. Show a bit of willingness to stick your necks out for the country.

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