SHARE

Labour is urging the government to enact a vast green stimulus to create 400,000 jobs and jolt the UK of out of the economic depression triggered by Covid-19.

The party wants chancellor Rishi Sunak to commit to at least £30 billion in capital investment over the next year and a half – warning that “austerity isn’t the answer”.

Shadow business and industrial strategy secretary Ed Miliband told The Independent that there was “work crying out to be done” – as the party publishes a new economic blueprint drawn up with input from trade unions and businesses.

Proposed projects to get the economy moving include upgrading ports and shipyards to build offshore wind farms, stepping up the manufacture of electric buses, and the creation of a National Nature Service to plant trees and develop conservation projects.

The party is also calling for a massive programme to retrofit homes for energy efficiency, expansion of carbon capture, new railways, and increased investment in flood defences, prioritising regions like the North West, Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

“There’s all this work crying out to be done, people who are crying out to be do it,” Mr Miliband told The Independent.

“We’re going to have to spend this money anyway because down the road we know we’ve got to get to net zero. Invest it now, get people jobs, set our economy up for the green future.”

Speaking ahead of the policy launch, the shadow industry secretary said the situation created by the pandemic meant the government had to act even more urgently than the plans for a vast “green new deal” in Labour‘s 2019 manifesto.

“The context is different: if anything the urgency has come become greater because the case for a stimulus now is something that is obviously a response to the economic crisis caused by Covid,” he said.

“This is the time for a green new deal, because what we face is a combination of a jobs emergency and a climate emergency.”

Some Conservatives want chancellor Mr Sunak, who is set to deliver a mini-budget later this month, to make cuts or raise taxes to reduce the government’s budget deficit, in light of spending to support people during the pandemic.