Labour will secure a strong balanced recovery – my article in The Sun

AFTER three wasted years of flatlining, it’s good news that our economy is at last growing again.

But there’s a lot of lost ground to catch up. And I know that for millions of working people across the country, it doesn’t feel like a recovery.

Prices are still rising faster than wages. A million young people are out of work. And people in work are on average almost £1,500 a year worse off since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

Yet he and George Osborne chose to give people on over £150,000 a huge tax cut this year, while raising taxes for everyone else.

It’s no wonder people say they’re totally out of touch and only stand up for the privileged few. And it’s why people are now asking:

What would Labour do differently?

They’re right to do so. And with 18 months to go until the next election, Labour will this week set out how we’ll tackle the rising cost of living, get people back to work and build an economy that helps working people.

Today I want to tell Sun readers the steps a Labour government would take.

First, we must support working families and act to make work pay.

The national minimum wage is one of Labour’s proudest achievements. But it has fallen by five per cent in real terms since 2010. So we need to restore its value.

And we must go further to help all people in work on middle and lower incomes.

We’d put right a mistake made by the last Labour government and introduce a lower 10p starting rate of tax. That would mean a tax cut for 25million hardworking people.

It would be paid for by a mansion tax on properties worth over £2million. And we’ll introduce it in a fair way, so that foreign investors who buy up property in London to make a profit will finally pay a proper tax contribution to our country.

Second, we must do more to get people back to work. Labour is the party of work and working people — the clue is in our name.

We know that we can’t make our economy grow more strongly, get the costs of welfare down and deal with the deficit if we’re squandering the talents of so many. So we plan to introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed. We will work with employers to make sure there’s a guaranteed paid job for every young person out of work for more than 12 months and adults out of work for two years or more.

We’ll fund it by repeating the tax on bank bonuses and restricting pension tax relief for the very highest earners to the same rate as the average taxpayer.

Third, we’ll act to secure a recovery that’s built to last.

We’ll reform the banks and back small businesses struggling to get credit.

And we’ll invest for the long-term in Britain’s infrastructure — building houses and improving transport.

If we did so, we could build hundreds of thousands of affordable homes. Not only would this help people struggling to get on the housing ladder, it would create thousands of jobs and apprenticeships, too.

The government should act on this now. Because this is no time for complacency. A strong and balanced recovery has not yet been secured.

On every test George Osborne set himself he’s failed. Because he choked off the economic recovery three years ago, the benefits bill has gone up and tax revenues have undershot. So instead of balancing the books, there’s now set to be a deficit of over £90billion at the next election.

Where this government has failed to reduce the deficit, I’m clear that Labour will finish the job. But we will make different choices and get the deficit down in a fairer way.

We’ll stop the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners.

We won’t fund new free schools in areas where there are excess school places, while parents in other areas are struggling to get their children in to a local school, We will insist that all the proceeds from the sale of our stakes in Lloyds and RBS are used to repay the national debt — not for a pre-election giveaway.

We will crack down on tax avoidance and scrap a government scheme which opened up loopholes that could cost £1billion. These savings mean that — without any extra borrowing — we can ditch the government’s cruel and unfair bedroom tax which is hitting over 400,000 disabled people.

Even in tough times Labour can make a difference. And this week Ed Miliband and I will set out what more we can do to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and deliver a recovery that works for the many — and not just a few at the top.

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Posted September 22nd, 2013 by Ed

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