Labour conference: Rachel Reeves vows to spend top rate tax on more nurses

2 months ago 24
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Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves says the government's "unfunded commitments" are causing the sell-off of sterling

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has vowed to bring back the top rate of income tax and spend the money raised on hiring more NHS workers.

In her speech to Labour's annual conference, she accused Liz Truss and Kwarsi Kwarteng of behaving like "desperate gamblers in a casino".

"They've lost credibility, they're losing confidence, they're out of control," she told delegates.

Labour was now the party of economic competence, she said to cheers.

The party has already announced that it would bring back the 45p top rate of income tax scrapped by Mr Kwarteng in last week's mini-budget.

Ms Reeves said the next Labour government would spend the money raised on "the biggest expansion of medical school places in British history, doubling the number of medical students, so our NHS has the doctors it needs".

The party would also double the number of district nurses qualifying every year, train 5,000 more health visitors and train 10,000 more nurses and midwives a year.

The next Labour government will double the number of district nurses qualifying every year, train more than 5,000 new health visitors, and create an additional 10,000 nursing and midwife placements every year.

Earlier, Ms Reeves accused Mr Kwarteng of "fanning the flames" of the falling pound by hinting at further "unfunded tax cuts".

The pound hit a record low against the dollar in early trading as markets reacted to the Chancellor's mini-budget.

Overnight, the pound fell by more than 4% to $1.03 - its lowest level against the US dollar.

Sterling has since regained some ground to stand at about $1.06 on Monday morning.

Ms Reeves told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is incredibly concerning.

"I think many people had hoped over the weekend things would calm down but I do think the Chancellor fanned the flames on Sunday in suggesting there may be more stimulus, more unfunded tax cuts, which has resulted overnight in the pound falling to an all-time low against the dollar."

On Sunday, Mr Kwarteng said the tax cuts outlined in his so-called mini-budget "favour people right across the income scale", and hinted that more were on the way.

The move, which will be funded by a sharp rise on government borrowing, drew criticism from some Tory MPs and Labour, which said the tax cuts would benefit the richest.

Sir Keir told the BBC he would reverse the cut to the 45% tax rate on earnings above £150,000, if he wins power, but keep the government's 1p cut to the base rate of income tax.

Image source, EPA

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Labour is hosting a four-day party conference in Liverpool

Ms Reeves also used her speech at the party conference to set out plans for a new National Wealth Fund, to invest an initial £8.3bn in green projects.

She said the fund would see wealth "flow back into" communities. If elected, Labour would use the fund to invest in battery factories and cleaner steel plants.

Labour says the fund would ensure that British taxpayers benefit from businesses built with public money in the UK.

Ms Reeves said that, when public money is spent on projects, the taxpayer "would own a share of them".

As chancellor, she told delegates, "I want to buy, make and sell more in Britain."

"What you will see in your town, in your city, with Labour is a sight we have not seen often enough in our country.

"Cranes going up, shovels in the ground, The sounds and sights of the future arriving."

Labour has also set out plans to make the UK the first major economy in the world to generate all of its electricity without using fossil fuels.

Sir Keir insisted zero carbon electricity production by 2030 was an ambitious target but "doable". The government aims to achieve it by 2035.

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