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Labour would end Tory ‘procurement racket’, vows Angela Rayner

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has vowed to end the “Tory procurement racket” with a plan to claw back public money and crack down on wasteful spending.

In her speech to the Labour conference on Sunday, Ms Rayner will vow to stop “sleaze merchants” doing business with the public sector and ban suppliers who repeatedly fail to deliver.

The deputy leader said Labour’s plan would make sure contracts are handed out in the “national interest” by insisting that suppliers create more jobs, train workers and invest in communities.

Labour condemned the “staggering” waste of taxpayers’ money during the Covid crisis after the government was forced to write off £8.7bn on personal protective equipment (PPE) that was substandard, defective, overpriced or undelivered.

Ms Rayner repeatedly attacked Tory “cronyism” during the pandemic after it emerged that the government created a “VIP lane” for Covid contracts in which ministers and senior officials passed on offers made by contacts.

“The Tories have left a legacy of sleaze, cronyism and corruption, with the British people left to pick up the bill – Labour will unleash the power of procurement for the public good,” she will say at the conference in Liverpool.

Ms Rayner will add: “Under the next Labour government there will be no hiding place for cronies and no corner for corruption. We’ll give the Tory sleaze merchants their marching orders, end handouts to tax havens and strike off failed providers.”

Labour is promising to reward businesses that create local jobs, skills and pay their taxes in the UK – pledging to give small and medium-sized organisations greater opportunities to bid for big contracts.

Keir Starmer’s party also says it will oversee “the biggest wave of insourcing for a generation” if it wins the next general election – pledging to bring many outsourced public services back in-house.

“The Tories’ policy of rewarding failure will be brought to an end,” Ms Rayner will say. “We’ll claw back taxpayer’s money and plough it straight back into communities to support the people who build the wealth in this country.”

Labour vowed last year to set up an “office for value for money” with powers to punish those who waste taxpayers’ money through clawback clauses in the design of contracts.

The party has also pledged to boost transparency with a more easily-accessible dashboard of all government contracts which will track their performance.

Ms Rayner is expected to set out details of a new “fair work standard” policy, aimed at ensuring better conditions, job security, working hours and training opportunities in the public sector, at the conference this weekend.

Other announcements to be made include a commitment to a new Hillsborough Law, which would introduce a duty of candour on public servants during all forms of public inquiry and criminal investigation.

Ahead of the conference, Sir Keir said: “Labour stands unequivocally with the Hillsborough families. We’ve repeatedly called for the Hillsborough Law and making it reality would be a priority of my Labour government.”

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