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 1180.

    They tried that when they were in government. Where did the workers come from to build the houses. Where they affordable. Lots of half built estates. Yeah that plan really works

  • rate this

    Comment number 1179.

    Ed. It wont work! What will work is to STOP propping up overblown house prices, allow the market to stabilize and then houses will become affordable. Simple market economics

    "Mr Balls said... the country faces "tough choices" in the years ahead."

    He is right, choosing a competent bunch of people to govern it being the toughest, it seems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1178.

    1176. JasonEssex

    Both Germany and France healthcare system is run by the private sector.
    Read the whole article if you must, French health care is far from ''private''. At least it wasn't when I lived there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1177.

    Mr Ed Balls wants to build 100, 000 homes?
    To be paid by the sale of 4G @ £3billion?
    Where is he going to build these homes?
    In the Outer Hebrides?
    Even there he would find it diificult to build homes @ £30k each!
    As usual Labour making promises without doing the basic sums.
    Isn't that why we are in trouble now?
    The largesse of the last Labour Gov't is why, we the public are suffering!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1176.

    1173 Nambe Number 6
    Both Germany and France healthcare system is run by the private sector. German doctors earn almost 50% less than British. Both german and French healthcare spending do not have any pension contributions in the future. The UK does and its shown sperately from the health service.Our biggest problem is future pension payments which they don't worry about.So take the French route.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1175.

    Good old Ed Moribund, having seen his party lead the UK to the biggest financial meltdown in living memory on the back of an unsustainable housing bubble (which has yet to fully deflate), the only policy he can come up with to boost the economy involves trying to create another housing boom.
    Next he will be calling for less regulation of the financial sector.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1174.

    I hope you include the unions in that. We need a central government who takes ideas from business, unions and the average person and doesn't concentrate on on the left or right. Thats why Germany is a success. A mixed balance

  • rate this

    Comment number 1173.

    1171. JasonEssex
    France/Germany/Holland all Private health care and better than the UKs.
    The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance, the WHO found that France provided the "close to best overall health care" in the world. In 2005, France spent 11.2% of GDP on health care, a figure among the highest in Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1172.

    I want a solid strong and dynamic opposition prepared to hold this government to account. What we have are the same faces, the same discredited old guard desperate to blame everything on the coalition.

    When Labour get a new broom and sweep away all of the old guard then I will listen too them again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1171.

    eh. More jobs off shored to increase companies profits, more a bankrupt nation to pay huge pensions, pension benefits for the rich have been reduced to 50k (should be lower), France/Germany/Holland all Private health care and better than the UKs.
    5. The rich will avoid it whilst the government screws over everyone else but build millions of houses paid by secured long term rent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1170.

    Is this a belated response to the 4 million immigrants that flooded into Britain under Mr Balls' period in govt and the consequent massive increase in population predicted?
    Hardly enough, one would think.
    These people are devoid of shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1169.

    1166. JasonEssex
    1. Double minimum wage
    2. Make all Government pension payments inline with MP's
    3. Scrap tax breaks for the rich.
    4. Don't sell off the NHS to your mates.
    5. Don't allow property to be kept in the same families.
    6. Bring back the poll Tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1168.

    @1163.Display name
    "Ed Balls, you're an idiot. If you sell an asset, you use the proceeds to pay off some of the debt"

    Even better, simply move the debt off the balance sheet. Hurrah, no more debt, and still plenty money washing (poor choice of phrase perhaps) around the economy.

    Yup, still got all that to pay off too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1167.

    4G will boost the economy and should be the focus of our effort to encourage greater connectivity rather than the fast broadband route that we are currently supporting with tax payer's money. 4G and not broadband is the future. Don't tax it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1166.

    Dear Mr Balls
    Focus on :-

    1. reduce every public servants salary above the national average by 10%.
    2. Limit government payment of pension contributions to national avg.
    3. Scrap Child Benefit and Pensions for those above the National Avg.
    4. Introduce complusory medical insurance for tourists/students.
    5. Scrap all empty property allowance for second homes.
    6. Expand council tax bands

  • rate this

    Comment number 1165.

    So why has Ed Balls devoted so much of his speech to this one very specific policy area? Probably because he knows the public aren't too keen on his other more important policies

    =>Aren't too keen on the bad news he isn't telling us, eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1164.

    I will not believe anything Balls or his boss says ever again, after they nearly bankrupted the country. As for Miliband's forgotten 50% you seemed to have forgotten them when you were in the cabinet why the interest now. Gimmicks that's all it is, the only way to stop this happening again is to ensure the banks are regulated properly and that the profits are ploughed back into the system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1163.

    Ed Balls, you're an idiot. If you sell an asset, you use the proceeds to pay off some of the debt. Less debt, less interest. Less interest, more spare income you have to spend on the country in the LONG RUN.

    No wonder we're in such a mess if this moron and his boss were in charge for so long. The current incumbent is no better, sucking up to a bunch of habitual liars.

    Sceptic, me?????

  • rate this

    Comment number 1162.

    100,000 "affordable" homes! Half of which will be snapped up by the buy-to-let parasites and rented at the going market rate. Yeah, great idea to solve the housing problem...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1161.

    We used to think you could spend your way out of recession and increase employment by boosting government spending, boomed the Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, at the 1976 Labour Party conference.

    “that that option no longer only worked on each occasion… by injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step


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