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Sustain's blueprint for the first 100 days of a new government

What would we like to see in the first 100 days of the new government? Sustain’s Public Affairs team and campaign leads map out how the new Government can hit the ground running...

. Copyright: zjtmath |shutterstock

. Copyright: zjtmath |shutterstock

So, who’s in the new team? 

With all 650 seats declared, new Prime Minister Keir Starmer commands Labour majority. Starmer’s Labour Party achieved a significant turnaround from their low 2019 results, securing a landslide victory.

The new PM has largely retained his Shadow Cabinet in their positions, with figures such as Steve Reed MP appointed as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Bridget Philipson appointed as Education Secretary, and Wes Streeting - who narrowly retained his seat - keeping the Health brief. These early appointments will play a crucial role in shaping the policy landscape in areas of interest to Sustain.  

Sustain was pleased to see Daniel Zeichner MP be confirmed in post as Minister of State at Defra and we are very much looking forward to supporting his work in this role, as an MP who has engaged extensively with Sustainable Food Places, the National Food Strategy and our Sustainable Farming Campaign over recent years.

The first 100 days

The food and farming pledges of the Labour Party and the other main political parties are shown in Sustain's manifesto tracker. While we welcomed some proposals in the Labour Party manifesto that aligned with our own priorities - from the energy drinks ban to the 50% local and sustainable public sector food target - we want to see more ambition. Overall, their manifesto was vague on some critically important areas, and we strongly believe that we have some low-hanging fruit ideas that will pave the way for a healthier, fairer and more sustainable food system under this new Government.  

Sustainable Farming 

Our Sustainable Farming Coordinator, Will White said:

“We look forward to continuing our relationship with Daniel Zeichner MP and Steve Reed MP as they enter their new roles in the Defra team.

We call on the new Government to revive the Horticulture Strategy to boost both production and consumption of healthy and sustainably produced fruit and vegetables. We also call on the Government to establish much-needed Land Use Framework - as pledged in the Labour Party manifesto - to move towards more strategic land-use decision-making. It will support the Government in meeting climate, nature, and health targets while encouraging diverse and secure sustainable food production.

It is essential that the new Government secures sufficient funding for the Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes to give farmers confidence from the start and more incentives for farmers to accelerate the much-needed transition to agroecological farming.” 

You can see our Supply Chain Fairness joint briefing from the Groceries Code Action Network (GCAN), where we call for a stronger Groceries Code Adjudicator to prevent unfair and damaging practices by supermarkets and food manufacturers. Our food security joint briefing from the Farming and Land Use Network (FLUN) calls for a more holistic definition of food security that encompasses nutritional quality, food accessibility and stability of supply. 

Climate Change and Nature 

Our Climate and Nature Emergency Campaign Manager, Ruth Westcott said:  

“We welcomed Labour’s commitment to tackle river pollution, but since agriculture is the main source of river pollution, we need to clamp down on big agribusinesses as well as sewage companies. We urge immediate action to reduce industrial, intensive meat production, which is a huge climate threat as well as a blocker on housebuilding in nitrate polluted areas.

The new government is required to revise its climate change plan within 12 months. Food is a huge gap at the moment and this is an opportunity to bring in policies to support healthy and sustainable diets. Public sector food procurement should lead the transition to planetary health diets and support nature-friendly farming. We welcomed the Labour manifesto commitment to 50% local or high environmental standard public sector food procurement, but these standards need to be clear, legally binding and enforced to have an impact.

The new minister should also ensure businesses act responsibly by requiring large food companies to report on and reduce emissions. They could also use green investment funding to boost the plant-based protein crop and product sector.” 

You can see our Stink or Swim report, where we call on the Government to halt new intensive livestock units in river catchments where nutrient loads are exceeded. 


Our Children’s Food Campaign Manager, Barbara Crowther says:

“We know that healthy school meals significantly boost academic performance, attendance, and overall child health. Whilst the commitment from the Labour Party to school breakfasts for all children is a step in the right direction, we urge the new Government to commit to reviewing school meal quality, funding, and access, working towards providing nutritious school food for all children by 2030.

Immediate steps should include raising the eligibility threshold and introducing auto-enrolment for free school meals and expanding the School Fruit and Veg Scheme. We believe the Government should also address gaps in current school food policies and eligibility thresholds to better support children from lower-income families.” 

Read our Parents’ Manifesto for healthy children's food. This highlights calls from parents for priorities for the new Government, including strong support for making free, healthy and sustainable food available for all children from nursery to sixth-form college. 


Our Children’s Food Campaign Manager, Barbara Crowther says:

“Ensuring all children can live healthily and access nutritious food is critical. We welcome Labour’s commitment to legislate on junk food advertising and their plan to ban energy drink sales to under-16s. We hope they will get both measures back on track.

Beyond this, an overarching and comprehensive children’s health and food strategy must also address food-related ill health in children through measures such as the ban of ‘buy one get one free’ promotions of unhealthy food, as well as building on the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to get companies changing the recipes of a wider range of food and drink to make them healthier.

We know that Secretary of State for Health Wes Streeting MP’s team is absolutely committed to supporting healthy diets and has to reduce long term strains on the NHS from preventable ill-health, so we hope they will drive smart regulation to get a level playing field for healthier food, healthier business and a healthier nation.” 

Read our Parents’ Manifesto for healthy children's food, and find out more about our Recipe for Change campaign, which calls on the Government to build on the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which the Sustain alliance was so influential in securing. You can also see some of the great work being done locally by York Council who have just introduced a healthier food advertising policy.  

Local Action and Food Citizenship 

Our Head of Local Action, Sofia Parente said:

“Secretary of State for Defra Steve Reed brings a wealth of experience in local government, so we are looking forward to supporting the Government's work on this agenda. We call on his department and Deputy PM Angela Rayner’s Levelling Up Department, where she is also Secretary of State, to support local authorities in adopting food partnerships and plans, akin to the Scottish Good Food Nation Act.

Deepening devolution settlements can empower local areas to take decisive action on food system issues. Recognising the critical role local action plays, Sustain advocates for policies that enable local authorities to set and monitor food standards, tackle unhealthy food advertising, create healthier food environments, and support sustainable farming and land use. Labour’s commitment to deeper devolution and better local planning is encouraging, but implementing these changes effectively will require clear expectations and adequate resources.” 

Our Sustainable Food Places network is very much looking forward to meeting MPs for our Day of Action on 13 November 2024.  

Addressing food poverty 

Our Food Poverty Campaign Coordinator, Isabel Rice says:

“With one-fifth of UK households with children experiencing food insecurity, urgent action is needed. Labour’s pledges to make work pay, reform Universal Credit, and introduce free school breakfast clubs are positive steps. However, a more ambitious strategy that includes comprehensive food poverty reduction and child poverty alleviation is necessary. A ‘Good Work’ approach to tackling poverty should be complemented by targeted food security policies to ensure no family has to resort to emergency food parcels. We need to reform welfare policies that drive poverty, such as the 2-child limit on financial support, which is affecting a growing number of families across the UK.” 

In conclusion, as the new Government embarks on its first 100 days, Sustain urges decisive action aligned with these proposals to build a more sustainable, healthy, and equitable food system for the benefit of everyone. We look forward to supporting policies and practices to help achieve this vision. 

Published Monday 8 July 2024

Sustain: Sustain The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.

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Oliver joined Sustain in September 2020 and has a background in policy. He will be focusing on Sustain’s Parliamentary work by engaging with key stakeholders and monitoring policy developments.

Oliver Ratcliffe
Public Affairs Officer

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