Ed Balls pledges to 'balance the books' by 2020

Ed Balls and George Osborne Both the Conservatives and Labour are aspiring to balance the books

Related Stories

Labour will balance the UK's books and deliver a budget surplus in the next Parliament if it wins the 2015 election, Ed Balls has said.

The shadow chancellor said Labour would pass a law to ensure it adheres to "tough" and binding fiscal rules.

This would mean eliminating the deficit - so the government generates more cash than it spends - and cutting debt as a share of GDP between 2015 and 2020.

George Osborne says the Tories want an absolute budget surplus by 2020.

The last time the government ran an absolute budget surplus - which means generating more in revenues, including tax yields, than the entire expenditure - was in 2001.

Labour's ambition to deliver a budget surplus does not include borrowing additional money for long-term investments, such as a high speed rail link.

The Labour party is under pressure to assert its economic credibility in the face of claims from its rivals that it would increase spending and borrowing.

In a speech to the Fabian Society on Saturday, Mr Balls said a future Labour government would legislate within the first year to introduce new rules on the deficit and debt levels while progress would be independently audited by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

But he would not set a specific date for achieving a surplus, saying it would depend on the state of the public finances and changing economic circumstances.

"The next Labour government will balance the books and deliver a surplus on the current budget and falling national debt in the next Parliament," he said.

"We will get the current budget into surplus as soon as possible in the next Parliament. How fast we can go will depend on the state of the economy and public finances we inherit."

Spending freeze

A Conservative spokesman said: "Labour spent too much in the good years, left behind the biggest deficit in the developed world, and even deny leaving our economy in a mess in the first place - and now Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are saying we aren't clearing up their mess fast enough.

"As part of our long-term economic plan, we're taking difficult decisions to reduce the deficit to secure a better future for Britain.

"Already it is down by a third, keeping mortgage rates low - bringing more financial security and peace of mind for people who work hard."

In his recent Autumn Statement Mr Osborne said he expected the UK to be running a budget surplus by financial year 2018-19.

Economists have said this could lead to further substantial cuts to public spending - although Prime Minister David Cameron said spending could instead be frozen.

He has said if the economy grows it could even be possible to spend more on some departments and run a surplus.

Labour has already pledged to stick to the government's spending plans for the first year after the general election.

"No more borrowing for current spending under Labour," Mr Balls said in December. "There'll be spending cuts, there'll be tough decisions."


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    I can understand why people don't trust Balls but what I find amazing is that some with those views support the utterly compromised Hedgiemobster sponsored puppets.
    Factor in the genius George and his 4/5 fiasco and I'm left wondering what the hell is the difference in terms of the competence of financial stewardship between the 2 main parties?

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    typical balls speak we will do it but we dont know how so stop asking. we will also address the cost of living crisis by giving everyone £1600.00 the amount we say people have lost under the coalition we will also reinstate all the benefit cuts after all we voted against them we can do all this and still run a budget surplus. how?. stop asking stupid questions just believe me

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.


    GDP figures....lies
    Unemployment figures....lies
    Debt figures.....lies
    Inflation figures....lies
    Surplus 2020....lies"

    Sounds like your definition of a lie is "anything you don't like hearing that shows you were wrong and George Osborne was right"

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    326. But the bankers did not create the structural debt. Labour did

  • Comment number 358.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    " UKIP a party for the white over 60s "
    ......My word....racism and ageism in one short sentence. Your target for today happens to be the generation that has held this country together for the past three decades. What have you done for your country lately?

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    The level of propaganda (lies) within politics would make Edward Bernays blush!

    GDP figures....lies
    Unemployment figures....lies
    Debt figures.....lies
    Inflation figures....lies

    Surplus 2020....lies

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    The best reason I can see for Scottish Independence - we'd get rid of Balls and his cronies before he has a chance to come to power!

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    No matter which party or politician speaks we have zero trust,but realize they will have zero personal pain.
    Wonder if that's why 35% don't vote and most others do so out of habit and a believe democratic process and it's past and presents costs?
    With little or no faith in the actual candidates themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    Dear All. Forget the quagmire of these out of touch politicians. Leave them behind, they simply do not care about us. UKIP + Paul Sykes + The Great British people are our strongest chance of gaining a foothold on the ladder of long term success - the evidence is overwhelming. Rising above recent ambitious headlines brings us to clarity, but it's not for the faint of heart.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    Random Advice
    2 Minutes ago

    The frightening thing is that it is virtually odds on that Labour will win the next election simply because they aren't the Tories, so Ed Balls will be Chancellor and Ed Miliband Prime Minister come May 2015.

    If that happens, there will be a stampede for the exit!

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    40. JohnD
    Why is everybody avoiding changing the basic tax rate?
    Because it's not the solution to the 'cost of living crisis' that Labour keep talking about...

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    Political Debate à la HYS

    Ed Balls is a big silly

    Vote for the caring Sharing Conservative Party.

    Then get the other sixty interns to vote for you.

    It's a good thing we have elections.

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    I dont care if Liebour turned into the most economic competent political party in the world.

    What is prosperity if freedoms/rights & general life are bastardized & heavily restricted by H&S & other regulation/laws, imposed at whim.

    With Liebour, or Torys etc, the dangers are not what they say they will do, but the huge lists of what they intend to impose but keep secret, ie Torys & NHS

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    Marxist Egg and unreconstructed militant socialist Balls.

    a) will cut taxation, reduce benefits, cut the public sector, will tackle the vested interests of the public sector unions Unite, Cap Energy Costs, Cut the cost of food, Will save the middle classes, break up the Banks, will by 2020 run a surplus !

    You would have to be the wildest fantasist, or engaged in a farcical delusion sorry

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    The rest of the liebour opposition
    Just go away...

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    So Balls will try to match Conservative targets.He was part of Gorgon Brown's supposed golden rules, that work well didn't it!Of course a surplus in one year at the very end of the next term is easy to rigg, by making previous years worse, and typical Labour taxing the life out of us.When he promises not to increase unadjusted spending over the term he may gain credibility.Plus no capital get out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    He has to try and spin something to try and deflect away from the apparent news on the economic front. I myself do not believe there is any future with the current economical model but more boom and bust.

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    They are all the same, Tories, Libdems and Labour, nothing to choose between them, and to think Labour were once a power for good in this country after WW2.

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    This is one law that is never going to happen
    Labour will put all taxes up and they will need to be deeper into the unions to stay solvent as a party

    I don't fancy paying £2 a litre for petrol but that's where it's going to end up as it's the easy option

    While I support the better off paying more, they found before they got less tax paid as they squirrel it away and actually pay less


Page 1 of 19


More Politics stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.