Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has called out the government for concentrating too much investment and too many civil service jobs in London over the past decade in a pre-Budget speech today.
Dodds said the past 10 years of Conservative government has overseen a six per cent rise in London civil service jobs, while the rest of the country has lost tens of thousands of public sector jobs.
She also said that English regions outside London and the South East had missed out on £4bn a year of research and development investment.
It comes after the government yesterday announced its £4.8bn fund to “level up” the country could also now be used on projects in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
“So as [the government] have let people go in the regions, they have actually concentrated power in the capital over that period,” Dodds said.
Rishi Sunak’s Budget next week is expected to include plans to raise corporation tax from 19 per cent to 25 per cent and a £30bn package to extend emergency Covid support.
The shadow chancellor said he should go further by by extending the temporary £20 weekly uplift in Universal Credit, due to end next month, and ditch plans to allow councils to increase council tax by up to 5 per cent.
She did not address the mooted corporation tax rise in her speech, despite Sir Keir Starmer yesterday urging Boris Johnson to rule out the move in Prime Minister’s Questions.
Dodds also said Rishi Sunak’s Budget should focus on a post-Covid High Streets recovery by reforming business rates and by ditching planning reforms that would make it easier for developers to turn shops into residential housing.
She also called for an “empty shops order” that would allow councils to take over empty shops, fix them up and rent them out without the approval of landlords.
“Done well, everyone should win – the local community gets a diverse range of new services on the high street, a new enterprise has got the foothold it needs to start work, and the landlord sees rent coming back in again,” she said.
“We need to do more to rebuild our high streets so they once again become the thriving heart of our community.”