Business interest in Labour conference soars, party says

Labour has attracted a surge of interest from business at its annual conference in October, as shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves ruled out any version of a wealth tax under a Labour government.

The Opposition, which continues to ride high in the polls, said its latest figures show the number of attendees at its business forum has risen by 50% in a year.

It is described as the “flagship engagement event for business” at the four-day gathering in Liverpool.

The website for the event states there are no more tickets available, and Labour said on top of the 200 people already signed up, a further 150 are on the waiting list.

Labour said the increased corporate presence demonstrates it is now the “party of economic growth”.

Sir Keir Starmer is expected to use this year’s conference to set out how a government led by him will revive a sluggish economy, with planning reforms central to the party’s bid to build its way back to economic growth.

The Labour leader, who is stepping up his efforts to woo business chiefs ahead of a likely general election next year, has indicated income tax for top earners will not be raised if his party forms the next government.

Ms Reeves confirmed the tax hike is off the table, as is a levy to target wealth or expensive properties and an increase in capital gains tax.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the shadow chancellor said: “I don’t see a route towards having more money for public services that is through taxing our way there.

“It is going to be through growing our way there. And that’s why the policies that we’ve set out are all about how we can encourage businesses, big and small, to invest in Britain.”

Labour local election campaign launch – Norfolk
Rachel Reeves and Sir Keir Starmer will Ms Reeves and Sir Keir Starmer will fire the starting gun on their general election campaign at October’s Labour conference (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

She also told the newspaper her preparations for office include “spending an awful lot of time with businesses”.

Party donations are increasingly coming from businesses, and Labour said it expects to make up to half a million pounds from business sponsorship this year, up from £200,000 in 2022.

A spokesperson for the Labour Party said: “With Keir’s leadership, the Labour Party is once again the party of economic growth.

“At this year’s conference, we will be setting out how a mission-driven Labour government will deliver economic growth across all parts of the country and give Britain its future back.”

It will also be the first Labour conference to feature a half-day event for small and medium-sized firms to discuss Labour’s plans to reboot the economy.

The Labour Party conference will take place on October 8-11, following the Conservatives’ conference to be held in Manchester on October 1-4.