Labour: Miliband outlines 'cost of living crisis' plans

 

Labour leader Ed Miliband: "It is wrong that millions of people in our country are going out to work, unable to afford to bring up their families."

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Labour leader Ed Miliband has set out plans to tackle what he calls the UK's "cost of living crisis", after arriving in Brighton for the party conference.

Mr Miliband promised to reverse controversial changes to housing benefit and extend childcare.

He also pledged to increase the minimum wage to help with the cost of living.

Meanwhile a senior party figure has said people earning £60,000 were "not rich" and the tax rise focus should be "the privileged few rifght at the top".

Mr Miliband said he wanted to "send a very clear signal" that it was wrong that millions of working people in the UK could not afford to bring up their families properly.

The Labour leader said:

  • Different sectors, such as finance, IT or construction, would be examined to see if they could afford to pay a higher rate to their staff
  • He would end the "epidemic" of zero-hour contracts
  • The government's health reforms would be repealed
  • Primary schools would be forced by law to look after pupils from 08:00 until 18:00 to help working parents

Mr Miliband said the housing benefit cut - affecting social tenants in England, Scotland and Wales deemed to have spare bedrooms - would be scrapped.

Analysis

Labour's leader stood on a box in the centre of Brighton to tell passing shoppers and party supporters he heard their concerns.

This will be a cost of living conference. Even though the economy is beginning to grow, Mr Miliband argues it's not being felt in most people's pockets.

He said the minimum wage had fallen behind inflation and the party has asked Alan Buckle, deputy chairman at accountants KPMG, to investigate how the wage could rise.

The party has also suggested it would not raise income tax for people earning £60,000 a year.

This flurry of policies is meant to answer critics who say that Labour doesn't have many.

But apart from the housing benefit pledge, these policy aspirations are not fully costed.

Earlier on Saturday, shadow communities and local government secretary Hilary Benn told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme the housing benefit change was a "cruel and unfair policy" which "undermined families and communities" and did not work because there were no smaller properties for people to move in to.

Critics have called the cut a "bedroom tax" however the government said it was tackling a "spare room subsidy" which was unavailable in the private room sector, and that the £23bn-a-year housing benefit bill must be cut.

Mr Miliband told a crowd in Brighton: "Abolishing the bedroom tax. Strengthening the national minimum wage. Childcare there for parents who need it. That's what I mean by tackling the cost of living crisis at this conference. That's what I mean by a government that fights for you."

The Labour leader added that the national minimum wage was "one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government" but it was falling behind price rises under the coalition government. He pledged to strengthen it.

If the national minimum wage had risen in line with the cost of living it would be 45p an hour higher than the current level, which is due to rise next month from £6.19 to £6.31, he explained.

Tory chairman Grant Shapps said: "Conservatives back the minimum wage.

Child painting Labour says childcare will be a top priority for the 2015 general election

"But if Ed Miliband was really on the side of hardworking people then he would have supported our welfare changes to ensure work always pays and should have voted in favour of halving the amount of income tax someone working full-time on the minimum wage pays."

Mr Miliband criticised Mr Cameron's record as one of "tax cuts for millionaires, tax cuts for hedge funds, tobacco lobbyists in Downing Street".

It was the "forgotten wealth creators - the people who put in the hours, who do the work, who do two jobs, who do the shifts" that should be supported, he said.

'Cruel and unfair policy'

The speech came after Rachel Reeves, deputy to shadow chancellor Ed Balls, told the Daily Telegraph what incomes she thought should be considered for tax changes.

"The focus should be on those privileged few right at the top, and that's not people earning £50,000 or £60,000 a year," she said.

"If you're a single-earner family in the South East on (that income), you don't feel particularly rich, and you'd be aggrieved that people earning between £150,000 and £1 million are getting a tax cut."

A Liberal Democrat document leaked earlier this week suggested the party was considering increasing taxes for people earning more than £50,000.

Senior Lib Dem Vince Cable said the proposal was not government policy and he did not know where it had come from.

The average annual wage of full-time workers in the UK was £26,500 in the year to April 2012, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics in its annual survey of hours and earnings last November.

Labour has also promised to make childcare a key part of its manifesto.

Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves wants the "focus" of tax to be on people earning £150,000 or more

Of their plan for schools to extend their opening times, Mr Miliband said it "doesn't make sense in this century" that some schools still close in mid-afternoon when parents are usually at work.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said "most jobs don't fit neatly with school hours".

She added: "We know parents with early starts, or commutes to work, need childcare they can rely on.

"Childcare is now as vital to our economic infrastructure as transport, housing or IT."

At present some schools offer breakfast clubs and after-school clubs to help working parents, but Labour says many of these have closed due to government cuts.

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman told the Independent she was "determined" mothers and fathers should be entitled to transfer part of their flexible parental leave to grandparents, enabling them to return to work.

Responding to Labour's plans in the Guardian, Treasury minister Sajid Javid said: "Despite promising 'discipline' on borrowing, Ed Miliband has shown he is too weak to deliver. Nothing has changed - it's the same old Labour."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 724.

    How long will Ed's Plan X last?

    I suppose until inflation falls below target and wages start increasing, so maybe 6 months tops.

    Then we can have a look at plan Y

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 723.

    Labour leader Ed Miliband: "It is wrong that millions of people in our country are going out to work, unable to afford to bring up their families."

    It is also wrong that millions of people go to work and pay taxes to feed those who can't be bothered, and to pay for healthcare for people coming to the UK just to get free healthcare.
    There are too many drains on the public purse.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 722.

    667.makeworkpay

    What planet are you on?

    1) If you can spare £15 in a month, then you can afford a contract smartphone, they are VERY CHEAP, so cheap even people on benefits can afford them.

    2) People on benefits do not have 52 inch 3D televisions. Benefits are pitifully low. I was on them for a few months last year, and I couldn't afford any luxuries at all. I could barely afford food.

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 721.

    Something really needs to be done to make sure pay is fairer in this country. You can have people with similar qualifications and job earning anything from 20k to 100k. Fairness seems to have just completely vanished. This can only cause the country to fail as people will get more and more resentful and the cohesion that holds the country together and lets it earn well will be broken.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 720.

    I do not care what this man says, he has zero credibility and is a liar with no convictions.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 719.

    God help us all if Master Milibean and his mates ever get into government.
    It's worth reminding everyone that all Labour governments have always left this country worse off than we were before they took office. We all know what a state we were in back in 2010 thanks to Gordon.

  • rate this
    +46

    Comment number 718.

    Reduce the cost of housing then people would not need to earn so much, it's ridiculous that a young couple need to earn in excess of £1800 net pay per month to afford accommodation and household bills, then add transport, clothing and a possible holiday. £60k today is not a lot for a young family, so why does the government believe a couple on average earnings can afford a £200k mortgage.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 717.

    £60k a year may not be "rich", but some people's comments beggar belief and I bet they don't give a second thought to those who are paid considerably less, work just as hard, and have a lot more problems.

    Oh poor person paying more in tax than others earn in a year, such hardship. That you have far more left than the others had to start with is besides the point, eh.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 716.

    So it begins again. Populist overspending paid for on the nations credit card while the MPs get richer.
    Same old , Same old.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 715.

    The government is 100% to blame for cost of living increases, because the government is the one imposing more taxation and regulations (both very costly), and the BoE has devalued the currency, thus making each individual pound worth less than before.

    The fact is that if government 'got out of the way' then cost of living would naturally decrease, owing to market forces.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 714.

    Some comment that low paid workers should aspire to be better paid, by doing higher paid work having acquired better education/skill. OK, so we all do this and then who will do the low paid work? Good luck to those who fill niche markets and develop apps. Well done you. Those of us without these attributes continue to supply you with health care, food, council services etc. Are we less deserving?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 713.

    With Liebour, its not the main policys that are always most worrying but so many add on policys during their reign in government, all the little ones add up to much added costs to businesses & restrictions to peoples freedoms.

    Liebour cannot react to every media scaremonger/attrocity news report & afflict PC legislation.


    We need to hear more about REAL job/wealth creation policys

  • Comment number 712.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 711.

    The more we see of Ed and his policies the less electable he gets.

    Compare these predictable policies of reversing benefit cuts and taxing the rich to UKIPs ideas on a sovereign wealth fund from shale gas and health insurance to deter health tourism by foreigners.

    Vote Labour and spend money we haven't got. As usual.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 710.

    Cost of living crisis grew under Labour. Don't trust them any more than the Tories. They are servants to the Unions, as the Tories are servants to the bankers. Neither party offers much hope to low paid workers in private sector companies. Both trebled tuition fees to crush the aspirations of working class and middle class kids.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 709.

    Cost of living? Utilities are going up and up but the biggest elephant in the room is property prices and rents.

    Does any politician want to tackle that or shall we kick the can down the road until the next crash because sooner or later it will happen and as the country is already skint it may not be pretty.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 708.

    Compared to 50 years ago, even those on low incomes have life-styles far better than then.

    -If the Minimum wage over the last 10 Years had risen by the same rate of Boardroom pay it would now stand at £19 Per hour!

    50 Years ago a Senior Exec earned 20 Times average Pay now it is 300 Times

    But of course it is the poor who are screwing the system not the rich silly me!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 707.

    Ed has never had a proper job, thinks he can put on a jumper and connect with the average man in the street.

    More empty words, blah, blah, blah.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 706.

    @688.southi

    And the vast majority of that goes to people in work who are on the minimum wage. Not to mention a lot goes to pensioners. Are you advocating that it gets removed from these people so then they can no longer afford to work and live? The amount of benefit to the unemployed is a fraction of the total bill. if companies paid living wage then the bill would shrink considerably.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 705.

    184 - scribblecat.
    you hit the nail on the head - 50% goes on rent - how absurd is that. This is something that desperately need looking at. House prices - they are just ludicrous for the lower paid worker. And as for private rents its ridiculous - so if you are on low wages you get help. Just get house prices down to sensible money - then people wouldn't need so much help from benefits.

 

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