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16.05.17

Labour claims to be ‘party of devolution’ in ambitious manifesto

Labour has described itself as the “party of devolution,” in its manifesto announced by leader Jeremy Corbyn today that lays out a number of ambitious targets for the party if elected to government.

This follows a think-tank last week stating that the new metro mayors would need to work with London mayor Sadiq Khan to restart the devolution agenda.

The small print of the costing for Labour’s manifesto also suggests that the opposition would hand councils £1.5bn extra funding for next year (2018-19) and would initiate a review into reforming council tax and business rates and consider new options, such as a land value tax, to ensure local government has sustainable funding for the long term.

Labour also pledged to take back public ownership for industries such as the rail sector. It also promised a £6.3bn investment in schools, over £30bn extra funding for the NHS and a £250bn national transformation fund for infrastructure, including the construction of 100,000 new council houses.

The opposition party has also released a document revealing how their policies are being costed alongside the manifesto, saying that it will spend £48.6bn but bring in the same amount through mainly raising corporation tax and income tax for the top 5%.

This rise in income tax is a policy that will impact the 1.3 million people with taxable income exceeding £80,000 per year, the IFS say

The manifesto says: “Labour is the party of devolution and we believe in handing back power to communities. We will devolve powers over economic development, complete with the necessary funding.”

Labour also stated that this new tranche of devolution will be followed by new funding for councils to bring standards of public services back up to scratch for residents.

The ailing social care sector will also be propped up by a further £8bn over the lifetime of the next Parliament, including an additional £1bn for the first year Labour are in power, following on from the £2bn over three years promised by Phillip Hammond in March.

And the manifesto also promised to “refocus social care to work with families in local communities to prevent children becoming at risk of going into care”.

The voting age will also come down to 16 under a Labour government, which argues that people who can pay tax, get married or join the army should also be eligible to vote.

And in terms of school funding, Labour promised to not waste money on “inefficient” free schools and grammar schools and instead create a system with higher quality education by driving accountability for schools.

Housing is also a major problem that Corbyn’s party has said it will tackle. “It doesn’t have to be like this,” The manifesto says. “Labour will invest to build over a million new homes. By the end of the next Parliament we will be building at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for genuinely affordable rent or sale.”

A Department for Housing will also be established in a Labour government to focus on tackling the crisis and to ensure housing is about homes “for the many, not investment opportunities for the few”.

“Labour’s new housing ministry will be tasked with improving the number, standards and affordability of homes. We will overhaul the Homes and Communities agency to be Labour’s housing delivery body, and give councils new powers to build the homes local communities need,” the manifesto noted.

And on top of that, restrictions that stop councils building homes will mark the biggest council building programme for at least 30 years, Labour claim.

Top Image: Danny Lawson PA Wire

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