Owen Smith Unveils 20 New Policies For A Labour Government As He Makes Keynote Leadership Election Speech

Includes new wealth tax on top 1% of earners, 4% rise in NHS spending and end of public sector pay freeze

27/07/2016 11:09 | Updated 27 July 2016

Owen Smith has pledged to tax the rich more, end the public sector pay freeze and pump more cash into the NHS.

Unveiling a list of 20 policies a Labour government would introduced, Jeremy Corbyn’s challenger said that only he had the detailed answers needed to create a ‘Fair Play’ Britain after years of Tory rule.

Speaking on the site of a former coal mine in Orgreave in Yorkshire, Smith added to pledges to restore workers’ and union rights with a list of commitments to underscore his radical credentials.

Among the most eye-catching were a new pledge to impose a 1% wealth tax on the richest, the restoration of public sector pay rises and 4% more spent on the NHS.

Here’s the list of his new pledges:

1. A pledge to focus on equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity. 
2. Scrapping the DWP and replacing it with a Ministry for Labour and a Department for Social Security.
3. Introducing modern wages councils for hotel, shop and care workers to strengthen terms and conditions.
4. Banning zero hour contracts.
5. Ending the public sector pay freeze.
6. Extending the right to information and consultation to cover all workplaces with more than 50 employees.
7. Ensuring workers’ representation on remuneration committees.
8. Repealing the Trade Union Act.
9. Increase spending on the NHS by 4% in real-terms in every year of the next parliament.
10. Commit to bringing NHS funding up to the European average within the first term of a Labour Government.
11. Greater spending on schools and libraries.
12. Re-instate the 50p top rate of income tax.
13. Reverse the reductions in Corporation Tax due to take place over the next four years.
14. Reverse cuts to Inheritance Tax announced in the Summer Budget.
15. Reverse cuts to Capital Gains Tax announced in the Summer Budget.
16. Introduce a new wealth Tax on the top 1% earners.
17. A British New Deal unveiling £200bn of investment over five years.
18. A commitment to invest tens of billions in the North of England, and to bring forward High Speed 3.
19. A pledge to build 300,000 homes in every year of the next parliament – 1.5 million over five years.
20. Ending the scandal of fuel poverty by investing in efficient energy.

One of the most eye-catching promises was the new ‘wealth tax’, which appears to be a tax on investment earnings, though the detail is unclear.

“We’ll ask the wealthiest in society to pay a fair share. We’ll re-instate the 50p top rate of income tax – the Tories’ tax cut for millionaires – and put a stop to further reductions to Corporation Tax.

“We’ll reverse Tory cuts to Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax. And to tackle the historic inequality that is holding Britain back.

“Labour on my watch will take the historic and necessary step of levying a Wealth Tax. A surcharge on investment earnings by the wealthiest 1% in our country, raising £3 billion a year.”

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Jeremy Corbyn

Smith, who is facing an uphill battle to defeat Corbyn among the party membership, also pledged to bring back wages councils abolished by the Tories in the 1990s and to scrap the Trade Union Act that imposed new curbs on strike ballots.

The Corbyn campaign said that the idea of creating a new Ministry of Labour has already been proposed by the Labour leader and John McDonnell, and last week Corbyn pledged to implement equal pay audits.

But Smith attempted to outflank him on left-of-centre policies with a repeated attack on Theresa May’s promises to tackle the rich and help the majority of Britons.

“Theresa May even had the temerity last week to lecture Labour on the evils of social injustice and job security. She says Britain needs a pay rise. And who could disagree? But rhetoric is cheap.

Theresa May

“The reality is that Mrs May is still squeezing her own workers til the pips squeak.With her pay freeze for millions of public sector workers that has dragged on far too long.

“So let me be clear. The public sector pay freeze cannot continue while the costs – of housing and heating, transport and childcare - continue to rise.The public sector pay freeze must end. And under me, it will.”

Under his leadership Labour would “commit to eradicate in-work poverty” and to make workers in Britain “the envy of the world for the quality of our jobs and the protections they have”, he added.

Smith would further give equal rights to agency workers, ban firms from recruiting solely from abroad and put workers’ reps on pay committees in companies.

In a jibe at Corbyn, he said: “We need revolution not evolution. Not some misty eyed romanticism about a revolution to overthrow capitalism.

“But a cold eyed and practical revolution, through a radical Labour Government that puts in place the laws and the levers that can genuinely even things up.”

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