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  • The government's health reforms would be repealed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
    +1

    Comment number 1204.

    kazaddress 703

    To argue that salary might be contingent of house price is inverse logic.. If large corporations are determining salary on that basis, then I hope someone is brave enough take them to tribrunal.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1203.

    @1185.fairdos

    Yes and most of the people on benefits are pensioners and those on min wage / low wages being topped up with housing benefit and working tax credits.

    The unemployed are a fraction of the entire welfare bill. So yes those people on 9.5- 12k per year (which is a lot) are part of the benefits bill.

    Fraud is less than a fraction of that, and unclaimed benefits are higher than fraud

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1202.

    "...It's wrong.....that millions of people in our country.....are going out to work...." This is a Miliband quote from today's speech.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1201.

    Who is going to pay for it all.
    Only 10% of taxpayers earn over £60k.
    Who is going to pay for all the extra public sector staff for the childcare promise, hard pressed council tax payers? Who is going to pay for the extra pay for implementing living wage?
    There is a lot being promised on higher rate taxpayers which Labour did nothing about for 13 ys they were in power, prolifigate again it seems.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1200.

    In Germany jobless are paid benefits for max 1 yr, the amount varies from previous job, then have to take any job. Over here benefits for life yet an ex Lib Dem said many wouldn't take low paid jobs because they were "aspirational". They would soon find a job if they couldn't get benefits. We are over populated but no Gov will take obvious step & cut child benefit, should only be max 2 kids

  • Comment number 1199.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1198.

    1175 Jo
    "Millibland needs to become familiar with the Laffer curve "

    Which completely ignores the massive increase in the cost of oil.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1197.

    This is nonsense. All great in theory but who is really going to pay? 60k is not a high wage in the south east where the cost of living is very high. The really high earners will never foot the bill. Housing costs in many areas are out of control due to overseas investors inflating the market and landlords pushing up rents. People need to see housing as a place to live not an alternative to a bank

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1196.

    @1169. 1L19

    Labour is not the peoples party. They are only in it for themselves. Were you actually in the UK during their last term in power? Or one of their paid brainwashed followers?

    Labour is actually the traitors party, dedicated to destroying Britain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1195.

    1167. Total Mass Retain
    In my experience there are very few or no people who are so indispensable

    I will say this that unless you are open minded to see people 's ability and reward that worth ofcourse they'll move but it cuts another way too if you reward one person fairly others will work harder to achieve. It depends on the business and affordability and vision at the end of the day.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1194.

    Why can't he stop the ridiculous housing schemes and let prices fall? Raise interest rates, reward the prudent. This constant propping up of the housing market sickens me, as the only way it will be sustainable is if every government introduces scheme after scheme to keep the gravy train going. If my housing costs were halved, my total cost of living would drop by a 3rd.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1193.

    Over taxing people damages the economy as people have less to spend. It should be one tax rate that everyone pays no matter how much you earn. Anyone earning less than £20,000 should be exempt from paying. The economy needs people with disposable income to spend to create employment.

    We tax employed people then hand out benefits to a few which are often inefficient, unfair and discriminatory.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1192.

    Lots of pluses against every comment that I make here but the leftie crank censorship brigade remove them all the same.

    They don't want you to know a certain TRUTHFUL fact about the Labour leader (which I keep citing) because you probably won't like it.

    The left hate the truth coming out which is why they rubbish UKIP.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1191.

    1170 Cynical Alan
    "Milliband is simply a vacuous career politician with limited insights and no idea of the real world."

    Unlike the Tory brain specimens that brought in the bedroom tax eh? that punishes the poorest and most needy in society for having a spare room! A policy so flawed and so idiotic that only a cretin or a sadist could have dreamt it up.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1190.

    1144.
    "childcare from 8am to 6pm, whose [sic] going to pay for that"

    I will. Same as I do now. Except that in an ideal world with proper pay for work, I'd be better paid for the work I do and might not need the degree of wraparound care I do.

    And I don't take it from 8 to 6, 5 days a week. I want to enjoy my children. If paid correctly and fairly, my external childcare needs goes down.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1189.

    Anyone want Toy Bliar back....just a thought?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1188.

    How about if Labour actually lived up to its name and looked after the "working class". £60k is a very good wage and if anyone need help with that maybe they should consider living within their means. People who work long hours for greedy businesses who have not given a pay rise in 6 years need help. People on £16k a year dont get help but still have to get by.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1187.

    How much is Harriet Harrman or Liam Byrnes worth/earn? Yet alone Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Neil Kinnock or the 75% of the Labour party earn or are worth? You have shot yourself in the foot my old Rich friend. Labour a party of the rich, like the Tories and why has the Unions continued funding this bunch of pale blue Tories. End Union money to Labour and start up a real Workers party.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1186.

    So what does he or the other 650 plus Mps know about the cost of living...as we ..pick up all their costs via expenses..wouldn't know the price of a pint of milk if you asked him..as in touch as the other useless pieces of drek that fill Westminster.whilst they are giving queeny massive pay rises...16.2% last year.5% next..and an extra £5 million a couple of weeks ago.as she was short of readies

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1185.

    there's too just many people on benefits

    even the hard working on 12 -25K are stumping up & footing the bill collectively inc 60K earners

    we are all paying for their iPhones Xboxes, Sky fags booze kids....and by the looks of it, computers.

    everyone pays would go up,
    if we didn't have to always subsidise their lifestyles
    coupled with large corporates who are immune to the word TAX

 

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