Labour conference: Ed Balls calls for stamp duty break


Ed Balls: "We must go further and we must act now"

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has called for 100,000 new affordable homes and a two-year stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers to kick-start the economy.

He said the £3bn to £4bn funding should come from the 4G mobile spectrum sale.

Mr Balls used his speech to Labour's conference in Manchester to stress the need for "urgent" action on growth.

He also announced that the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, Sir John Armitt, would review long-term infrastructure planning and finance.

Mr Balls' speech came amid a row between the party's leadership and the unions over backing for a public sector pay freeze.

Len McCluskey - leader of one of Labour's biggest financial backers Unite - said the party should be on the side of ordinary workers, arguing leader Ed Miliband had "got it wrong" and should not offer a "watered-down version" of the coalition's policies.


He received an enthusiastic round of applause after speaking at the conference on Monday.

But Mr Miliband said Labour could not be dominated by special interests such as the trade unions and the row is expected to flare on the conference floor later on Monday.

Mr Balls told delegates: "We need a comprehensive long-term plan to rebuild Britain's infrastructure for the 21st century, and a cross-party consensus to deliver it.

Start Quote

Not more talk, but action right now”

End Quote Ed Balls

"And at a time when government budgets are tight, we must think innovatively about how we can finance these vital projects over the coming decades, drawing on the private sector and long-term pension savings."

The shadow chancellor attacked the coalition's austerity programme, saying: "This is the fundamental truth: if more people are on the dole, not paying taxes, you can't get the deficit down.

"If businesses are going bust, not hiring new workers, you can't get the deficit down. If the economy's not growing, you can't get the deficit down."

He called for "urgent action" to kick-start growth, suggesting a "clear and costed plan" to use the proceeds from the forthcoming sale of 4G radio frequencies to scrap stamp duty for two years on properties worth £250,000 or less.

'Real help'

"With this one-off windfall from the sale of the 4G spectrum, let's cut through the dither and rhetoric and actually do something," he said. "Not more talk, but action right now.

"Let's commit that money from the 4G sale and build over the next two years: 100,000 new homes - affordable homes to rent and to buy - creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and getting the construction industry moving again.

"Add to that a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers, and we can deliver real help for people aspiring to get on the property ladder."

The 4G auction will sell chunks of radio spectrum to support future mobile services, which will allow users to download data such as music and videos at much faster speeds.

In 2000, the previous Labour government raised £22.5bn to help pay off the national debt with the proceeds of the 3G spectrum auction.

The 4G auction could raise between £3bn and £4bn, according to social enterprise charity the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), although telecoms watchdog Ofcom has not confirmed that figure.


Mr Balls defended his plan to review all public spending if Labour wins the next election, saying the country faces "tough choices" in the years ahead.

"The longer this government staggers on with a failing economic plan, the worse it will get and the harder the job will be," he told Labour activists.

"Hard times will last longer than all of us hoped. And we cannot promise to put everything right straight away.

"Of course we'll make different choices - we'll do things in a fairer and more balanced way and put jobs and growth first."

But GMB union leader Paul Kenny turned his fire on the shadow chancellor on Sunday, saying: "He would give an aspirin a headache, wouldn't he?"

In a speech to delegates on Monday, Mr Kenny will say Labour must go into the next election with a leadership the public can connect with, not those "damaged or dented by past mistakes which have not been owned up to".

At a fringe meeting on Monday, he plans to read out a dossier of errors he will claim the shadow chancellor made when he was in government.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    Stamp Duty 'holiday' - gonads Mr Balls while you and other MPs claim from the tax-payer for such costs. When MPs move home they claim for all expenses, including legal fees and removal company costs.

    Balls and ALL MPs of all political parties - you cut YOUR costs/allowances first, paid for by the tax-payer, before you preach to the rest of us who are subsidising you to tell us what to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    House prices are determined by supply and demand, with supply being the amount of money available to the bidders (buyers).

    A stamp duty holiday increases borrowers deposits, massively increases the amount of money they can borrow, and hence massively increases the house selling price.

    This helps the economy, but anyone who says it helps the buyer is lying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    100,000 new homes will cost in excess of £6Bn to build. In 2004, John Prescott failed to find a builder who could build for £60K or less, so actually Ed Balls's plan is unaffordable. Again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.


    I'm sure if you'd been paying rent to the same Landlord for 22 years, you'd like the right to buy with a bit off the price?

    So please don't be a hypocrite

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    Simple fix to get the housing market moving: Change the person who pays the stamp duty to the SELLER

    =>Nonsense. It should be scrapped altogether. It's only become relevant in the last 20 years as house prices rocketed out of control. Now it's important as a big earner for a greedy government.Before the early 90s it was a bit of extra cash for the gov but hardly as vital as now

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    2.Some Lingering Fog
    2 Hours ago
    A party in opposition can call for whatever they like, and promise whatever they like, but it is what they do when they are in Government that is important.

    And what are they doing? Hinting about a referendum and little action to start up the economy again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    To: 357.fraz3375

    Your comment would have more credence if you didn't resort to insults to get your message accross.

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    Seriously balls, ahahahahaha.

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    @379: Psycrow - is your real name Gideon?

    We have 2.51 million unemployed and looking for work.

    The deficit has barely moved and national debt is nearly 90% of GDP.

    Unemployment overall dropped, but the claimant count is up.

    Inflation isn't falling if wages are frozen or cut.

    AAA is useless if you can't control your debt.

    The crisis hasn't even begun to unfold yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    There is no such thing as affordable housing in much of the country as it will always sell at the market price. If the initital sale is discounted then the first buyer makes a large profit when he sells. What we need is public housing owned by Housing Asscoiations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    So you take £4bil from the telecoms sector and give it to the building sector that really doesn't need it? "Oh hey building sector we hear you can't be arsed building affordable homes. Here, we'll pay you to so you can make even more profit on homes you build." The break on stamp duty I agree with as it feeds on up the chain. But sort out the 1% to 3% jump at £250k, having that is madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    @345.Trout Mask Replica
    "You want to live in a modern society supported by public services, then it has to be paid for."

    What if you want to live in a modern society supported by local enterprise (social or otherwise) not run by a monolithic authoritarian nanny state that you didn't vote for? The globalists have largely taken over the planet, and where they haven't they're preparing to bomb.

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    It's all very well to just say 'build 100,000 affordable homes' but, affordable to who and where to build?
    You have to build them where the jobs are, which is mainly close to the cities which then means that the homes suddenly become unaffordable to the majority of people.
    Much better to let the housing market correct itself and make sure the rediculous borrowing is not allowed to happen again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    The housing market needs to continue to undergo re-normalisation for the benefit of us all; the value has been more than extracted from it, we do not need another bubble there.
    The easiest way to achieve growth is to find/create a new market and dive into it before it becomes to heavily regulated and taxed.
    Reduce stamp duty, by all means, but look elsewhere for growth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    The real problem with the economy is that the state has got too large, govenment spending is nearly half GDP. This means that everyone is taxed to the hilt, the government decides too much who should have what, it makes it expensive e.g. to pay for someone to repair your house because you pay their gross pay +VAT out your net pay. Tax and the big state is strangling the economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    Famous for their economic competence the Labour Party. 'Crisis what crisis? 'We've put an end to boom and bust'. Well I suppose at least he put an end to the boom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    A Stamp Duty break is all well and good, but it's masking the real problem facing FTBs and low income house buyers - the exorbitant price of the average property in this country. Doling out 95% mortgages and tax breaks means that more people will continue paying beyond their means to buy a home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    Ed Balls should have been in the UK Olympic team.
    Competing in the Bandwagon jumping contest.
    He simply goes from one populist vote catcher to another. Get serious Balls! Work out some policies of your own. Oh, I forgot, you did that in the past and it was a disaster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    David said " Regulate the sale and of houses based on building costs aprices will fall by as much as 40%"

    ...and then put hundreds of thousands of hard-working families into negative equity. Utterly brilliant! You should be advising Ed Balls (although it's quite probable you already are!) :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    Sounds great doesnt it - now reality needs to happen. This would not actually do anything as most first time buyers cannot afford the deposit. It is also no good just spending to get things moving. Who would we sell to in current climate? no one is buying so we need to ride out the storm and be ready when things get moving again. You cannot just magic jobs but Labour never have figured that one


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