General election manifesto: Labour announces £11bn windfall tax on oil and gas
Labour would hit oil and gas companies with an £11bn one-off tax to help workers move into low-carbon jobs, Jeremy Corbyn has announced.
Unveiling the party's election manifesto in Birmingham, the Labour leader vowed to make energy firms “pay their fair share for the costs of their destruction” through a windfall levy if his party wins next month’s election.
The levy would be used to create a ‘just transition fund’ to help the UK transition towards a green economy without large-scale job losses.
The manifesto says: “We will introduce a windfall tax on oil companies, so that the companies that knowingly damaged our climate will help cover the costs.
“We will provide a strategy to safeguard the people, jobs and skills that depend on the offshore oil and gas industry.”
But in a move that could disappoint members who passed a conference resolution urging the party to take the UK to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, the manifesto has a slightly weaker commitment to “put the UK on track for a net-zero-carbon energy system within the 2030s”.
Describing the 107-page document as “a manifesto for hope”, the Labour leader sought to contrast his party's approach with a “rigged system” blocking “real change” in the UK.
“This manifesto is the most radical and ambitious plan to transform our country in decades,” he told supporters.
As well as the oil windfall tax plan, the party is vowing to increase levies on big business, boost infrastructure investment, build a wave of new council houses and pump extra money into the NHS, social care and schools.
On taxes, Labour is planning to bring in a new ‘super-rich’ rate of income tax for those earning over £125,000 – although that would not apply in Scotland unless the Scottish Government chose to do the same.
Corporation tax would rise to 26 per cent by April 2022, up from 17 per cent under the current government's plans.
A beefed-up financial transactions tax on banks would, Labour says, net £8.8bn for the exchequer, while the party would also bring in a tax on second homes and introduce VAT on private school fees.
Overall, Labour says it would increase the tax take by £82.9bn over the next five years to help pay for a number of big-ticket spending pledges.
They include pumping £5.5bn more into schools by 2023, with health set for a £6.9bn or 4.3 per cent annual boost, while the manifesto also commits to reducing the use of private providers in the health service in England.
The party is also promising a £9bn boost to the welfare and pension budget, £20bn more for local government and a multi-billion-pound lift to public sector pay.
While the specific spending pledges on areas such as health, education and local government would not apply to Scotland, Scotland would be set for an extra £100bn if Labour wins, including £50bn of Barnett consequentials resulting from the extra public spending in the rest of the UK.
Other significant pledges include freezing the UK pension age at 66, raising the minimum wage from £8.21 to £10 an hour and scrapping Universal Credit.
Corbyn also talked up Labour's plans to take on privatised utilities companies, vowing to bring “rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership” and run them “for the people”.
He pledged to offer voters “the very fastest full-fibre broadband for free” by setting up a new, state-run British Broadband, formed by bringing in “broadband-relevant” parts of telecoms giant BT into public ownership.
The party said workers in existing broadband infrastructure and retail jobs would have their roles guaranteed, while a tax on tech giants would help to “pay for the operating costs of the public full-fibre network”.
On Brexit, Labour says it will negotiate a new Brexit deal within three months of coming to power and put it to the country in a legally binding referendum within six months.