Labour: ‘We’ll bring back 45p top rate to fund more nurses’

Labour: ‘We’ll bring back 45p top rate to fund more nurses’

Thousands more doctors and nurses would be trained under a major NHS expansion funded by a reinstatement of the 45 per cent top tax rate, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves announced on Monday.

In her keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Ms Reeves made it clear that the party would reverse Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s shock move last Friday to abolish the top rate of tax in his bid to drive economic growth.

But she went further, insisting that the £6 billion raised by the tax over the coming years would be used to boost the health service which is facing a severe staffing crisis as it battles to clear post-Covid backlogs.

Under the plan set out by Ms Reeves, a Labour government would:

  • Double the number of district nurses qualifying every year.

  • Train more than 5,000 new health visitors and create an additional 10,000 nursing and midwife placements every year.

  • Increase the number of medical school places from 7,500 to 15,000 to boost the number of doctors working in the NHS.

“Strong public services are the foundation of a strong society,” Ms Reeves was set to say. “We owe everything to those who work in our NHS.

“But we also know that our health service today is on its knees. It is a social priority. And it is an economic priority.

“We need strong, sustainable public finances alongside strong, sustainable public services.”

Mr Kwarteng’s radical tax-cutting programme, which has sent the value of the pound tumbling, has forced Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to set out his own plans in response.

He yesterday told the BBC that while Labour would reverse the abolition of the additional rate of 45 per cent for those earning over £150,000, his party would support the Government’s plan to reduce the basic rate of tax from 20p to 19p in the pound from next April.

According to Treasury calculations, removing the top rate of tax will cost the Treasury around £6bn between now and 2026/27.

Labour said most of the benefit from removing the top rate of tax would go to the super-wealthy and claimed £1bn alone was going to 2,500 people earning more than £3.5m. The party added that the tax cut only helps two per cent of working people.

Ms Reeves was set to add: “Our priority is not tax cuts for the wealthiest few. It is securing our public finances and investing in public services.”

Labour are hoping to use their annual gathering in Liverpool to press home their alternative vision for the economy.

Ahead of Sir Keir Starmer’s speech to the conference tomorrow, delegates have been boosted by new polling at the weekend which shows they have opened a 12-point lead over the Tories.

As part of the alternative plan for the UK economy, Ms Reeves was also announcing plans for a state-owned investment fund to back projects which could generate wealth for the nation.