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Labour manifesto: Miliband vows to build a Britain for working people, and balance the books’

Labour manifesto: Miliband vows to build a Britain for working people, and balance the books’

🕔13.Apr 2015

Ed Miliband launched Labour’s General Election manifesto today with a pledge to fix the country’s finances and build a Britain for working people “where the next generation can do better than the last”.

He spoke of rewarding hard work, sharing prosperity and of securing the nation’s finances to improve family finances.

Addressing head on any concern about Labour’s past financial record when in Government, Mr Miliband insisted every spending commitment would be fully funded “with not one requiring any additional borrowing”.

Mr Miliband, who famously forgot to mention the deficit when delivering a keynote conference speech, was taking no risks this time. He said a Labour government would cut the deficit year on year until the books were balanced, although steered clear of estimating when that might be.

At the launch in Manchester, he unveiled a “budget responsibility lock” with a guarantee that:

  • Every policy in this manifesto will be paid for without requiring any additional borrowing.
  • All major parties in future will have their spending and tax commitments independently audited by the Office for Budget Responsibility before a General Election.
  • The first line of the Labour Government’s first Budget will be that it cuts the deficit every year. And we will only lay Budgets before the House of Commons that deliver this commitment which will be verified every year by the Office of Budget Responsibility.

The underlying theme behind the manifesto is the notion that Britain only succeeds when working families succeed. Mr Miliband contrasted this with what he said was a “desperate” Conservative election campaign “spraying money around promises it has no way of paying for”.

Branding the Tory approach as “unfunded, unbelievable and unfair”, he sought to portray Labour as the party of responsibility for the public finances.

He promised a plan “for big reform, not big spending that would reward hard work, ensure prosperity is fairly shared and build a better Britain”. Mr Miliband said:

My case is simple. Britain can be better for you, your family and our country. But only if we change the rules by which the country is run, the ethic that drives government, the leadership we offer.

He said Labour was presenting a different manifesto to previous elections because it began with “a clear vow to protect our nation’s finances”. Mr Miliband continued:

I have heard so many of you tell me you want a fairer Britain but also ask whether it is still possible. You want to see your children have a better tomorrow but ask how we can pay for it today.

You want Labour values and a new start. You want change and you want responsibility with our nation’s finances.

Today we answer you. The plan we lay before you is no less ambitious because we live in a time of scarcityIt is more ambitious because it starts from a clear commitment to balance the books and more ambitious because it does not stop there.

It meets the scale of the challenges we face today with not one policy funded by extra borrowing. It is a better plan for a better future which shows the next government will be disciplined precisely because we want to make the difference.

Britain will only succeed when we reward everyone’s hard work in our country, not just those on the six figure bonuses.

Britain will only succeed when our schools and our hospitals strive to be the best in the world, not when they are cut back to the bone.

Britain will only succeed when everyone’s voice should be heard in our politics, not just those who have the access, the wealth and the power.

And Britain will only succeed, when we are strong and confident and look outward to the world, not when we turn in on ourselves. That’s how Britain can be better than this.

Mr Miliband said he wanted to build a fairer, more equal country “that works for working people once again”.

Labour spending commitments include:

  • A £2.5bn NHS Time to Care fund in the early years of the next parliament paid for from a mansion tax on properties over £2 million, a levy on tobacco firms and closing a hedge fund tax avoidance loophole.
  • 25 hours of childcare for working parents of three and four year olds, paid for by increasing the banking levy by £800 million.
  • Smaller class sizes for five, six and seven year olds paid for by ending the Free Schools programme.
  • Lower business rates for small business properties paid for by not going ahead with another cut to Corporation Tax.

Mr Miliband made it clear that the current Government’s austerity programme will continue until “the books are balanced”.

Labour proposals include:

  • Departmental budgets falling every year outside protected areas of education and the NHS.
  • Scrapping winter fuel payments for the richest pensioners, capping child benefit rises and cutting Ministers’ pay by five per cent.
  • A cap on overall welfare spending alongside measures to tackle the long-term drivers of welfare spending, “like low pay and low house-building”.
  • Ensure those earning over £150,000 pay the 50p tax rate, and abolish non-dom status.
  • Making government more efficient with a new emphasis on prevention and devolution, integrating health and social care to keep people out of hospital, focusing on public health to cut child obesity.

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