Labour has launched an attack on the government’s “financial mismanagement” during the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the Conservatives of wasting billions of pounds of public money.
In a speech to the party’s annual conference later, shadow chancellor Annelise Dodds will attack Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s “cavalier” approach to public cash, accusing him of handing over large sums to help businesses with “no strings attached”.
She will claim that as much as £2.6bn of money paid to firms as part of the Jobs Retention Bonus will go to businesses that would have brought staff back to work anyway.
Ms Dodds will try to contrast Mr Sunak’s record as a former hedge fund manager with her own “responsible approach to the national finances”.
“I’ve never missed an opportunity to confront financial mismanagement. I’ve spent my political career fighting international money laundering and tax evasion,” she is expected to say.
“While the chancellor was profiting from a financial system that took huge risks and then passed them on to ordinary people, I helped to rein it in.”
Speaking to Sky News ahead of her first conference speech as shadow chancellor, Ms Dodds said the UK was in “very worrying times” with the COVID-19 outbreak.
She called for a return to the daily government briefings seen earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked if the public should be hearing from the prime minister instead of the chief medical officer and chief scientist, she told Kay Burley: “We do need to have that kind of leadership – and we’ve been saying that surely we need to have a return to those daily updates that the government was providing.
“Because we do seem to be in really quite difficult circumstances.”
In her speech to the conference, which is being held online because of the pandemic, the shadow chancellor will set out a three-step plan to rebuild the economy after COVID-19.
This will be built around the principles of “recover jobs, retrain workers and rebuild business”.
A Labour government would help subsidise the wages of workers in key sectors in order to allow companies to bring back more staff on reduced hours.
There would also be a national retraining strategy for workers who have lost their jobs and a business rebuilding programme to help viable firms that are struggling.
Ms Dodds will also say that a future Labour government would try to restore trust with business.
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“Government working hand in hand with business and trade unions, in the best interests of our country,” she is expected to say.
“This is an ambitious Labour vision – where security and fairness aren’t just aspirations, but where they are a reality for families and communities across our country.
“As chancellor, I would restore that trust with business because I understand what a critical role business plays in creating jobs and supporting livelihoods across the country.”