Friday 2 July 2021 / 10:30 PM Economy / Rachel Reeves

Labour will make, buy and sell more in Britain 

In her first major intervention since coming into post, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has pledged to make, buy and sell more in Britain under a Labour government, unveiling a plan to raise standards, award more public contracts to British businesses and bring the jobs of the future to the UK.

Labour will use the social and environmental stretch clauses in public contracts to raise standards, mirroring the approach taken in other countries including France and the US. As well as raising standards nationally and globally, this move will help boost British business and create new jobs.

Pointing to insecure supply chains exposed by shortages in PPE during the pandemic, and huge taxpayer contracts going overseas instead of to British companies, Reeves will highlight how Labour’s new proposal will seize the opportunities for the long term of the post-pandemic, post-Brexit economy and help to shape a more secure and resilient future for Britain, especially in the green and tech ideas of the future.

Labour will make more in Britain by giving more public contracts to British companies, big and small, by:

  • Asking every public body to give more contracts to British firms big and small, using stretching social, environmental and labour clauses in contract design to raise standards and spend and make more in Britain.
  • Passing a law requiring public bodies to report on how much they are buying from British businesses including SMEs.
  • Leading a culture change in government, putting the growth of local industries first, and reviewing the pipeline of all major infrastructure projects to explore how to increase the materials made in Britain, upskill workers to get the jobs of the future.

Labour will help bring jobs of the future to Britain, by:

  • Investing in reshoring jobs in the same way we invest in Foreign Direct Investment, by helping every business considering reshoring access the expertise and support they need.
  • Working with colleges and universities to make sure we’re honing the skills and apprenticeships for the jobs of the future.

The party also highlighted a series of government decisions that have resulted in British industries being left behind and jobs leaving Britain:

  • Despite warm words, none of the Conservative’s new priorities for procurement in their national procurement statement explicitly involve more UK firms having access to government contracts.
  • The government’s weak procurement conditions have no teeth. When procuring key infrastructure, they do not use information on how proposals will benefit the UK when assessing bids.
  • British passports: 171 manufacturing jobs in Gateshead were lost because of the government’s decision to hand the contract to produce the new blue passports to a French company.
  • HS2: Only one UK based firm was shortlisted for £2.5 billion worth of contracts for track and tunnel systems for HS2, alongside three other firms based overseas. The procurement of HS2 trains asked bidders to set out how their bid will benefit the UK, but Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson confirmed that this “does not form any part of the evaluation of tenders”.
  • PPE: A Florida based jewellery designer Michael Saiger set up a business to supply PPE to governments. Mr Saiger signed up a Spanish businessman, Gabriel Gonzalez Andersson, to help with “procurement, logistics, due diligence, product sourcing and quality control” of the PPE equipment. Mr Andersson was paid more than $28m (£21m) for his work on two government contracts to supply the NHS.

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves MP said:

“As we recover from the pandemic, we have a chance to seize new opportunities and shape a new future for Britain.

“Labour will get our economy firing on all cylinders by giving people new skills for the jobs of the future here in the UK, bringing security and resilience back to our economy and public services, and helping our high streets thrive again.

“That starts with our plan to make, sell and buy more in Britain.

“We want to build on the Britain of today, using what we’ve learned to create a better future.

“Post-pandemic and post Brexit, we should be rethinking how we support out businesses, strengthen our supply chains and give people the skills they need to succeed. The decade ahead is crucial.

“From green jobs in manufacturing electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines, to fin tech, digital media and film, we must grow modern industries to build a long-term economy that provides good jobs and is fit for the future.