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 440.

    Owning property is not a right and not something everybody should definitely aspire to. Property taxes are the way governments finance themselves across the world at the local level. Nothing wrong with that. Ed Balls should answer one question: why making life slightly (you still need a deposit and a mortgage) easier for people to buy a flat should make things better for the economy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    100000 affordable homes for £4bn. build costs are about £100 per sq foot of built residential. either he intends to build bedsits or he has his figures wrong. oh and this ignores any land cost. guess what he's exaggerating again. No i hear you say , not a politician!

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    Balls! Thanks for the idea but:

    Having worked in the property sector for a number years I can confirm this will have a very insignificant effect on the number of property transactions, what is needed is the banks to sort out lending and make funds available to first time buyers

    Last time this happened it made it harder to sell property at the cut off point of the 'free' sd.

    Sort the banks out!

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    To the FACE ACE..

    What are you talking about? We were 1.2 trillion down. At least the conservatives heve paid nearly 25% of that off. If you look at your history, Labour have always left office with the country in the red. Conservative governments have always had to clean up labour's mess. Don't take my word for it, just look up the facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    100,000 'affordable' houses. So affordable they are bulit in rough areas where the next swathe of single mums and immigrants will live whilst you pay a £150k 30 year mortgage for the pleasure of living next to them who live free. hmmm Labour rubbish

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    I think all Ball's fiddling around the edges is a pale copy of Osborne's hopeless policies. At present we are in a demand deficient recession, the best way to inject spending power into the economy is infrastructure projects and public sector pay rises. That would feed directly into sales which could kick-off private sector investment, it would also go to those most likely to spend it. Simples

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    We don't need holidays we need to get rid of this onerous tax. Of course GB milked it si much that he made it almost impssoble to get rid of tripling the revenue as house prices rose. At best cut out the steps in the rates and put bands that once you go over one rate the excess is taxed at a higher rate i.e. upto £250k 1% from £250k to £500k at 3% and so on they do that for income tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    If you want to spend the phone tax would it not be better to spend it on something phone related such as super fast broadband roll out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    As I see it, the only way to make housing affordable for FTB is to put a stop to the massive BTL market. Make them adhere to strict housing standards, and cap rents. I have friends living in houses with "bedrooms" in attics which would not passing building regs and windows which would not pass fire safety regs. Get rid of the greedy unfit landlords and let house prices fall to affordable levels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    It was the last Labour government that ramped up Stamp duty, which is one reason why the housing market has stagnated, as it makes property buying prohibitively expensive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    Maybe the money would be better spent educating the general populous that its not right to spend more than you earn and that you shouldn't borrow what you cant afford to pay back. Unfortunately we are where we are because people seem to have forgotten this important fact of life and have been too busy keeping up with the Jones'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    People can’t afford a house because they are too expensive – simply caused by too much demand and not enough supply. The only way to redress the problem is to increase the supply or reduce the demand.
    One would expect that reducing the tax on property will actually increase demand and therefore make them even less affordable.
    Labour and the Liberals (with their pension proposal) don't get it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    I wonder how many times this 4g licence money is going to be spent by the masters of tripple accounting?

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    Its a pity he didn't think this one up when he was in government.

    There is no such thing as "affordable housing" . . . what you get is cheap shoddy boxes that are too small to swing the family cat and swiftly become shabby and run down . . . quality buildings built to last is what is required

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    I'm not sure if someone has pointed this out, but by my very simple calculation, £2.5bn and 100,000 houses, this means each house has to be built for only £25,000 (working out 2500000000/100000). Maybe someone who has a background in the building trade can give us an idea of what kind of house you could construct for £25,000, because that doesn't sound like a lot to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    love to the labour supports
    who blame the torys for every thing
    housing sortage the last torry goverment when they council houses but did build new ones labour in power 13 year but did nothing but lets not blame them blame mrs T

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    @ 315.Shaunie Babes
    "They spend it on police officers to stop it being robbed, firemen to stop it burning down, and roads so you can drive to it ?"

    They are the obvious expenditures but you have forgotten of how much is sent to the EU, overseas aid, wasteful and ill-thought out Gov't spending. look around you at electronic roads signs which cost £billions etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    It seems the Labour party is even taking the blame for the death of Minney Caldwells cat! Ed Balls has a degree in economics but lets not let facts get in the way. Osbourne has a 2nd in modern history. Now TORY LOVERS Thatcher started this mess thats why you can't pay your utility bills, that greed spilt over to your current crop of Eton toffs, the bankers ruined the UK not the LABOUR PARTY got it

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    Is this the same Ed Balls who helped give away half a trillion pounds of tax payers money while working in the chancellor's office? I may be wrong, but hey, rumours have to start somewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    "Despite their faults, Labour continue to make sense in what they propose."
    Continue? I must have missed when they started.


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