Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Labour’s £28bn green plans subject to fiscal rules, says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer underlined the fundamental importance of the fiscal rules (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)
Sir Keir Starmer underlined the fundamental importance of the fiscal rules (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that Labour’s scaled-back pledge to spend £28 billion a year on green initiatives would be subject to the party’s “fiscal rules”.

It comes as the Labour leader faced tough questions about his spending plans and priorities if the party wins the next election, avoiding answering directly questions about whether departments could face tough cuts if it comes to power.

Sir Keir on Monday appeared at the Resolution Foundation’s conference in central London with a speech which saw him stress that a Labour administration will not be able to “turn on the spending taps”.

The think tank report said the UK has seen 15 years of relative decline, with productivity growth at half the rate seen across other advanced economies and flatlining wages costing the average worker £10,700 a year in lost pay growth.

The Labour leader told the audience that the UK was “in a hole” and “going backwards” after 13 years of Tory rule.

He warned: “A political consensus that if you work hard and play by the rules, you will get on, a glue that binds British society together, has become nothing short of a lie – for millions.

“It’s a well from which so many political horrors can spring.”

The £28 billion initiative was not mentioned by Sir Keir in his speech and in a Q&A with The Economist chief editor Zanny Minton Beddoes he faced questions about whether the plan had been downgraded.

Labour had originally promised in 2021 to invest £28 billion a year until 2030 in green projects if it came to power. However, in June shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the figure would instead be a target to work towards in the second half of a first parliament.

The party denied reports last month it has been watered down yet again at the instance of Sir Keir.

“The £28 billion, we will ramp up to that in the second half of the Parliament,” he said on Monday.

“It will be used to trigger that other investment from the private sector and we’ll ramp up – it’s not a question of the investment not starting until the middle of the next Parliament.

“It is, of course, subject to our fiscal rules. But I am confident that if we turbocharge the growth that we need, we’ll be able to achieve the investment we need within the fiscal rules.”

Taking questions later from reporters, he stressed the fundamental importance of the fiscal rules.

The party’s rules include paying for day-to-day expenditure through tax receipts and getting debt down as a share of the economy.

“Those fiscal rules are the foundation upon which we build everything,” he said.

Resolution Foundation conference – London
Sir Keir Starmer faced questions about his spending priorities if Labour wins power (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)

“They’re not a straitjacket for the £28 billion. There are foundational stone for everything that we should do.

He said he was “really confident that we can make the investment that we need to within our fiscal rules, because I’m confident that we’re doing the work on growth that we need to do”.

The speech on growth came after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt – who appeared at the same conference earlier – used his autumn statement to pencil in difficult cuts to public services in the years beyond 2024.

Sir Keir accused ministers of a “fiscal sleight of hand”, which “showed the Government is quite prepared to salt the earth of British prosperity, in pursuit of its political strategy”.

He also failed to say whether or not he could definitely rule out cuts under a Labour government, instead pointing to reform through the better use of things like AI and data.

“I do care about, I believe in, public services and I know a thing or two about the constraints of delivering public services, and I’m certainly not in the business of cutting the funding, which is why the focus is so much growth.

“What I would say, though, is that we must never forget that our public services need reform.

“We need to reform, we need to grow our economy. But the record of a Labour government is always to look after our public services.”

He also defended his decision to use an article in The Sunday Telegraph to praise the pro-privatisation former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher for having “set loose our natural entrepreneurialism”.

Sir Keir told reporters he was “distinguishing between particularly post-war leaders – those leaders, those prime ministers – who had a driving sense of purpose, ambition, a plan to deliver and those that drifted.”

“Now it doesn’t mean I agree with what she did but you don’t have to agree with someone to recognise they had a mission and a plan.”