John McDonnell pledges 'irreversible' power shift to north of England with £150bn fund

Posted On: 
7th November 2019

Labour will pledge to hand local decision makers £150bn over the next Parliament as part of an “irreversible” power shift from London to the north of England.

John McDonnell will unveil Labour's plans at a speech in Liverpool
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The Shadow Chancellor is expected to announce a new Social Transformation Fund to help “upgrade and expand” schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses if the party takes power after next month's election. 

But the Tories accused Labour of indulging in "fantasy economics".

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Mr McDonnell will say the money would be divided up by a National Transformation Fund, based in the north, which would ensure that key decisions about investment in that part of the country are made there.

A “powerful section of the Treasury” will also be supported by local bodies for each of England’s regions, with funds “ring-fenced for infrastructure projects decided and developed at a local level”.

"Our aim as a Labour government is to achieve what past Labour governments have aspired to," he will say at a speech in Liverpool.

"An irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people. That means change means investment on a scale never seen before in this country and certainly never seen before in the north and outside of London and the south east."

"To achieve that objective also requires therefore an irreversible shift in the centre of gravity in political decision making and investment in this country from its location solely in London into the North and regions and nations of our country."

On the Social Transformation Fund he will say: "Spent over the first five years of our Labour government, the Social Transformation Fund will begin the urgent task of repairing our social fabric that the Tories have torn apart.

"A hundred and fifty billion pounds to replace, upgrade and expand our schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses."

"To deal with the human emergency which the Tories have created, alongside the climate emergency.”

He will also point out that the increase in spending across England, will knock on to boost the money available to authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And Mr McDonnell will insist that "Treasury ministerial meetings will no longer be solely in London".

"Labour’s Treasury ministers will meet outside of London and will have a ministerial office in the north," he will add. 

"The centre of gravity of political gravity is shifting away from London."

“This is where the investment is needed and this is where those decisions on investment need to be made on the ground. Power is coming home. Back to the people.

"We can only deliver the real change we need by putting power into the hands of communities of the people who know their local area best, like those who came up with the tidal barrage idea for the Mersey, which we’ll build."

'NO SUCH THING AS GOVERNMENT MONEY'

The announcement came as Chancellor Sajid Javid prepared to liken Labour's economic poliicies to the movement against vaccinations.

"Not only did they reject the treatment needed to heal our economy and get the deficit down by four-fifths, they now want to take every step imaginable to make the country sick and unhealthy again," he will say in a speech later.

And the Cabinet minister will add: "There are serious consequences to these fantasy economics. Only the Conservatives understand that there is no such thing as Government money.

"After a decade of recovery, of difficult decisions, we can't let Labour turn back the clock, let spending get out of control and make hardworking families pay the price.

"We won't let Labour off the hook like last time. Look to the lessons of history - they'll ruin our finances, raise your taxes and saddle the next generation with debt.

"Every single Labour Government has left our country's economy in a mess."

Liberal Democrat economics spokesperson Ed Davey meanwhile blasted both parties, as he said: "Brexit, whether red or blue, will be disastrous for Britain, threatening businesses and livelihoods right across the country.

"And the Conservatives and Labour also both want significant shifts in the direction of Britain’s economic policy - one to the hard right and one to the far left. 

“In contrast, the Liberal Democrats are committed to stopping Brexit, to boost growth and generate a Remain Bonus of £50 billion for our public services."