The double whammy from Labour's housebuilding ambition

Chancellor Rachel Reeves hits the ground running with speech well received by business community

It was always going to be important for the new government to hit the ground running. In her first speech, Chancellor Rachel Reeves did just

that: “Be in no doubt – we are going to get Britain building again. We are going to get Britain’s economy growing again.”

In a move designed to shame her Conservative predecessors, she revealed she had commissioned an analysis which showed that if the UK’s economy had grown at the average rate of other developed nations, it would have been £140 billion bigger. The message was clear: because of the Tories, the country is in a hole, but Labour is going to get us out of it.

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It seemed to go down well. Rain Newton-Smith, of the Confederation of British Industry, said businesses would be “encouraged” to hear Reeves speak so “clearly and passionately” about making economic growth her “defining priority”. They would also welcome “the Chancellor wasting no time in committing to tackle the burdensome and time-consuming planning processes that are holding back critical investments in infrastructure and housebuilding”.

Chancellor Rachel Reeves donned a hard hat and hi-vis vest as she vowed to boost housebuilding (Picture: Lucy North/pool/AFP via Getty Images)Chancellor Rachel Reeves donned a hard hat and hi-vis vest as she vowed to boost housebuilding (Picture: Lucy North/pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rachel Reeves donned a hard hat and hi-vis vest as she vowed to boost housebuilding (Picture: Lucy North/pool/AFP via Getty Images)
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Watch and learn

Building houses will be central to Labour’s plan for the next five years. The question in Scotland is whether the SNP will catch the newly energised mood now spreading through Westminster, or continue with the tired, defeatist attitudes that have plagued both them and the Conservatives for years.

As an increasingly rural party, the Conservatives seem to have shied away from enabling housebuilding on the scale required for fear of a ‘nimby' backlash. And the SNP often appear frozen by fear of offending any potentially powerful lobby, just in case it knocks support for independence.

However, with a housing crisis seeing many people unable to get a foot on the property ladder, it’s past time for serious action. And a housebuilding boom is a good way to stimulate the economy.

So Labour’s housebuilding ambition could set about dealing with two serious problems at a stroke. The UK certainly needs a kick up the backside – and Labour appear set to deliver not just one, but a double whammy for which we will all, we hope, be better off. The SNP should watch and learn.

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