April 26th, 2015

Wakefield Wildcats deserve their stadium

The Wakefield Wildcats and their supporters deserve a new stadium. That is why from the outset I have supported proposals for a new community stadium.

Back in 2012 we were told this development was the only viable proposal for a new stadium. As well as being a home for the Wildcats, a new stadium would bring badly needed jobs and investment into our part of the district.

I wrote to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles to back their plan and to urge him not to put planning obstacles in its path. Sadly, plans for the new community stadium have stalled; but the need for a new stadium has not gone away. Fans, the club and local people deserve a community stadium and the whole area would benefit from the new, good jobs it would bring.

That’s why everyone needs to get round the table again to hammer out a way forward. We need a renewed effort to get the stadium back on track.

With my Labour colleagues Mary Creagh and Jon Trickett, I will continue to work with the community stadium trust, fans and the Council to secure the future of the club and the new stadium.

Here is the statement we have made to the Council and to the Wakefield Express:

“Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ proud history is at the heart of the city’s sporting life. We have supported the community stadium process for several years, contacting Wakefield Council on several occasions. We will continue to work with the community stadium trust, fans and the Council to secure the future of the club and the new stadium. We stand ready to support the club in any way we can.”

We need a new stadium and I will always do everything I can to support the club.

Posted April 26th, 2015 by Ed
April 24th, 2015

HSBC is the latest in a long line of companies warning of the dangers of a re-elected Tory government taking Britain out of the EU

HSBC is just the latest in a long line of companies warning of the dangers of a re-elected Tory government taking Britain out of the European Union.

The big risk to our economy over the next few years is EU exit if the Tories win the election. It would have a disastrous impact on jobs, trade and investment in Britain. It’s a risk we cannot afford to take.

Labour will secure Britain’s place in a reformed EU and reform our banking industry so we have more competition and boost lending to business. This is how we defend British jobs and British business and put the national economic interest above party politics.

Posted April 24th, 2015 by Ed
April 23rd, 2015

IFS has confirmed that the Tories are committed to the most extreme spending plans of any political party, with bigger cuts than any other advanced economy in the next three years

The IFS has confirmed that the Tories are committed to the most extreme spending plans of any political party, with bigger cuts than any other advanced economy in the next three years.

And the IFS condemns the Tories for being ‘misleading’ about their plans for cuts to public services. The truth the Tories won’t admit is their plans are so extreme they would end up cutting the NHS. Countries which have cut spending on this scale have cut their health service by an average of one per cent of GDP – the equivalent of £7 billion.

The IFS also warns that Tory plans would mean radical changes to tax credits and child benefit. George Osborne must now come clean on his secret plans to take money away from millions of working families.

With Labour’s plan the IFS confirms that both the deficit and national debt will fall and that we have given more detail on how we will achieve this.

But the IFS’ numbers wrongly assume that Labour will get the current budget only into balance. Our manifesto pledge is to get the current budget not only into balance but into surplus as soon as possible in the next Parliament. How big that surplus will be, and how quickly we can achieve that in the next Parliament, will depend on what happens to wages and the economy.

The Tories might be able to make the cuts but the last five years show they will fail to cut the deficit as they claim. They have borrowed £200 billion more than they planned because their failure to boost living standards has led to tax revenues falling short.

Posted April 23rd, 2015 by Ed
April 20th, 2015

My speech on the Tories’ double deceit on the NHS

As Andy has said, David Cameron broke the promises he made about the NHS at the last election.

And now he is again asking people to take him on trust about what he’s saying at this election.

David Cameron broke his promises on the NHS before.

And he’ll break his promises again.

And nobody is going to trust the Tories with the NHS.

And let’s be clear, there is a double deceit going on here.

First, the Tories want people to believe that they are not planning cuts to the NHS.

And their manifesto claims the spending cuts they are planning in the next Parliament will be on the same scale as in this Parliament.

But the truth is the Tories’ spending plans actually mean doubling the pace of cuts next year.

As the Office for Budget Responsibility has said, the government’s Budget plans mean a “sharp acceleration” in the pace of cuts to public services.

They mean deeper spending cuts in the next three years than in the last five.

And the international evidence shows that in all the OECD countries which have tried to cut spending on this scale, health spending fell – down by an average of one per cent of GDP.

This is the equivalent to a £7 billion cut to the NHS.

And other countries which have cut public spending to the levels the Tories are planning have greater charging in their health services.

It is simply dishonest for the Tories to claim they can achieve this scale of spending cuts – double the cuts next year – without putting our NHS at risk.

Second, David Cameron claims he can somehow give the NHS an extra £8 billion, though not until 2020.

But he cannot say where the money is coming from.

The Tories have not identified a single penny of additional money for the NHS.

As Ed Miliband said, you can’t fund the NHS on an IOU.

In the last ten days Tory Ministers have been asked 60 times where the money is coming from and 60 times they have been totally unable to answer.

And David Cameron failed to answer again yesterday.

Typically, he made it up – and tried to claim this money is in the government’s figures.

But last month’s Budget did not include any extra money for the NHS.

We all know David Cameron is a serial offender when it comes to claims at election time.

He broke his promises on the NHS, on VAT and on tax credits last time.

And he’ll break his promises again.

Because on top of their extreme spending plans to double the cuts next year, the Tories have made billions of pounds of unfunded commitments in this election including £10 billion of tax cuts and billions of pounds for rail fare freezes and paid time off for public servants to volunteer.

Desperate promises made in the middle of a desperate Tory election campaign.

And the Tories cannot say where any of the money is coming from for any of them.

And with the Tories these unfunded tax promises will come before the NHS in the queue.

There is no extra money for the NHS under the Tory plan and it is dishonest of David Cameron to claim there is.

The fact is the only party with a fully-funded plan to raise extra revenue for the NHS straight after the election is the Labour Party.

People trusted David Cameron’s claims about the NHS at the last election.

But people will not trust his claims at this election.

Because David Cameron broke his promises last time and given, half a chance, he’ll end up breaking his promises this time.

You can’t trust the Tories with our National Health Service.

And as Liz will now explain, another five years of the Tories would be disastrous for our NHS.

ENDS

Posted April 20th, 2015 by Ed
April 20th, 2015

Transcript of Ed’s interview on Murnaghan

Murnaghan Interview with Ed Balls, Labour, Shadow Chancellor 19.04.15

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Well now, the Conservatives are once again evoking the spirit of Margaret Thatcher in an effort to win over undecided voters before polling on May 7th, they are promising a 1970s style sell-off of Lloyds Banking shares if they win the election but Labour say it is has been promised before and amounts to pre-election panic. Well I am joined now by Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, a very good morning to you Mr Balls. I want to start all this by first of all saying are you sure you will be Chancellor in a Miliband government, have you got that assurance?

ED BALLS: We’re not measuring any curtains, we’re going to fight every day until general election day. As Ed said a few weeks ago, when it comes to writing the first budget, that’s something the Ed Miliband and I are planning together and are going to do together.

DM: Has he told you you would be Chancellor? You are Shadow Chancellor but you could very well pick somebody else could he not? I mean as Mr Cameron was saying during the week, you were his third choice to be Shadow Chancellor.

ED BALLS: I think we’re being quite presumptuous here. Until the people have voted on election day we’re not going to take anything for granted. Ed Miliband’s the leader, he makes all the decisions about who’s in his government, I have never said to him I demand this job or I want this job but I’m the Shadow Chancellor, we’re working really closely together …

DM: So you’d settle for something else, you’d settle for Foreign Secretary or Home Secretary or something else?

ED BALLS: Look, I’m the Shadow Chancellor and I’m working very hard on Labour’s first budget which we want to do to start to change Britain and we’re working really closely together. I was saying today what an impressive job he’s done, he was saying today in another interview that I’ve done an impressive job as well but when it comes to the making of the first cabinet, that’s what the leader does.

DM: Okay, let me ask you about his first choice as Shadow Chancellor, Alan Johnson, who had to resign several years ago but he was campaigning during the course of last week and Mr Johnson said this, ‘Glad to see that the party of financial responsibility features very large’ in the launch of your manifesto last week but he said ‘there’s no sound bite to equal the claim that we maxed out on your credit card, we need to do more on that.’ Do you agree with that?

ED BALLS: Look, Alan Johnson has been one of the people who’s been saying we should spend a lot more time debating the Tories charges about the last government and saying that it was a global financial crisis, it wasn’t Labour spending which caused the crisis, the Tories matched our spending plans, it wasn’t nurses and doctors that caused Lehman Brothers to go bankrupt in New York, those are all arguments I’ve made. Alan Johnson is saying …

DM: That’s not a sound bite, is it? It doesn’t count with ‘don’t give the keys back to those that crashed the car’. Are you proud, Shadow Chancellor, are you proud of every penny you spent in government? If you said that, that might counter it.

ED BALLS: But look, Alan Johnson is saying I should spend more time with sound bites about the past, I understand that argument. I think what people want to know in this election is about the future so we say let’s have an economy which works for working people, that is what people want and it is about the future.

DM: But it’s about the policies you had with immigration, are you proud of every penny you spent while in government?

ED BALLS: Of course not, of course not. Every government spends some things really, really well, we did some fabulous things with the NHS, with the minimum wage, we didn’t join the Euro, we made the Bank of England independent on interest rates but of course there was some spending we didn’t get right, of course that’s the case but the global financial crisis wasn’t caused by Labour spending. The lie from the Tories has always been Labour spending caused the global financial crisis, Alan’s saying that is total nonsense and tosh, you know it’s rubbish, I know it’s rubbish but actually the British people know it’s rubbish too.

DM: Well one of the by-products of that financial crisis was the ownership by the British public of shares in some of our biggest banks including Lloyds, you know where I’m going here. It’s a good idea isn’t it to give some money back to the shareholders, to the British taxpayers who dug Lloyds out of a hole?

ED BALLS: I want Lloyds and RBS back in the private sector to get our money back, to get the national debt down, of course I do. Look, the frustration here …

DM: But what about selling shares to the public? Giving them at a discount?

ED BALLS: Of course the public should be buying the shares but the fact is, as you said a moment ago, David Cameron promised this before the last election. He’s announced it seven times and it has taken him a lot longer than he thought. He was saying a few years ago he wanted to have pre-election a discounted sale of RBS and I’m afraid RBS has not yet turned round …

DM: Well exactly, because they are waiting for the share price to get to a proper level, to get above the level at which the government bought into it.

ED BALLS: It’s been taking too long.

DM: Okay, we can argue that but is it a good idea to sell it back to the public at a discounted rate so that they make some of the profits?

ED BALLS: My starting point is this, I want to make sure that we maximise the long term benefit for the taxpayer and I want to make sure we get the money in…

DM: That means you want it in the Treasury.

ED BALLS: Well look, but if people buy the shares the money is coming to the Treasury so of course I want to maximise the reduction of the national debt and all that money will go to the national debt. When the Tories sold off the Royal Mail a few months ago they said the minimum purchase for a small shareholder was £750 and then they sold it at too low a price which meant that big institutional shareholders including I think George Osborne’s best man, made a total killing and the taxpayer got ripped off. Let’s make sure the taxpayer does not get ripped off again.

DM: But you’re not matching this offering, that there would be a discounted sale to the public?

ED BALLS: Look, I will look at the details of this and if the best way to make sure that small savers get a fair deal is to have a discount, that’s something I’m really happy to look at but I’m not going to do it by discounting the price at sale which ends up with a big rise in prices afterwards which means that the killing doesn’t go to the taxpayer and the national debt but it goes to big institutional investors. I hope David Cameron and George Osborne now admit they got the Royal Mail sale badly wrong and I promise you this, I will not short change the taxpayer on Lloyds and RBS.

DM: All right, we want more specifics from you, assuming you are going to be Chancellor if Labour win, more specifics. You are going to have an emergency budget, you’ve told us that, pretty soon after you get into power and in that budget you would instantly put up that high rate of tax to 50p. Would you also bring in the Mansion Tax in that same budget?

ED BALLS: Yes. We will have …

DM: You’d bring it right in then?

ED BALLS: We will have a budget this year, we’ve not set a timetable for that but I think we’d want to move more quickly, as quickly as we can because we want to scrap the bedroom tax in our first budget, we want to bring in the bank bonus tax to get young people back to work, we want to cut business rates for small companies and increase child care. We’ll put the top rate of income tax back up to 50% for people earning over £150,000 and I said to the Treasury, I want them to be ready so that we can move in the first budget to legislate for and introduce the Mansion Tax on properties over £2 million.

DM: What about valuations?

ED BALLS: Well the thing which we will look at straight after the election is what timetable we can do and I will get the expert advice from HMRC and from the Treasury but I believe that we will be able to introduce this on the basis of valuations in this financial year, that’s my commitment, that’s my aim and that’s what I want to do.

DM: Okay and we know no movement on a wide variety of taxes, on VAT, national insurance and basic rates of tax, what about corporation tax, you haven’t ruled out putting that up have you?

ED BALLS: Well what we’re not going to do is the next cut.

DM: No, but would you put it up?

ED BALLS: When we were in government we reduced the rate from 33 to 28, the Tories have come down from 28 to 21, we’ve supported those cuts. We’re not going to do the next cut from 21 down to 20, instead we’re going to use that money to cut business rates, to cut and freeze business rates for 1.5 million small business properties.

DM: But you have been explicit, haven’t you, about things like VAT and basic rate tax, are you going to be explicit about corporation tax, that it will stay at 21% or could it go higher?

ED BALLS: I’ve made a commitment which is that we will keep the corporation tax rate, the main one, at the lowest level of any of the big G7 countries …

DM: And there is the wriggle room because we know that Canada, the next lowest, is on 26.5%, so you could put it up to 24 or 25 pence.

ED BALLS: But as I’ve said, I’ve supported the cuts from 28 down to 21 and my plan is not to do the next one and to do that for small business rates. Now the thing which we need in this recovery, look, at the moment our business investment performance is weak, our exporting performance is weak, businesses are really worried about Europe. We need to make sure that we back businesses and start investing for the future, the last thing that I want to do is start deterring that investment by hiking up corporation tax so therefore that is not something that I have made any commitment to do at all, we will keep our rates low.

DM: Okay and one other specific on that first budget, HS2, you would commit to that?

ED BALLS: Well at the moment there is a piece of legislation for HS2 first phase which I think has probably got another 18 months still to go in parliament. The second phase of HS2 is not even yet on the drawing board in terms of legislation. We have supported HS2, we need to make sure though that the costs are under control, there is no blank cheque from me and we will make sure in the second phase that we actually get a route which really serves our economy in the best possible way. George Osborne has said don’t do the east/west links until after you’ve done HS2, now I don’t want to delay the second phase but I don’t see why we should wait to link up Newcastle, Hull, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester for 20 years, that is ridiculous. I want to do that more quickly and on HS2 I think George Osborne has not been doing his job, he should get a grip on the costs. He is supposed to be the Chancellor, it is going to take me to come in to bang the table and say get a grip on the cost of this project.

DM: Well Nicola Sturgeon, of course we know the SNP, she says she is going to have a role in writing a Labour budget if they are supporting you in some way. Is it an absolute firewall between what you and Ed Miliband write in the budget and any SNP involvement? If they say this is too austere, we’re not supporting these cuts in this budget you’d just say go away?

ED BALLS: Absolutely 100% total firewall. As Ed Miliband said a couple of weeks ago, which in a way answers your question from three minutes ago, the first budget will be written by Ed Miliband and me and not by Nicola Sturgeon or Nigel Farage or anyone else. That’s what we are going to do, we’ve got a clear programme, we’ll cut the deficit every year and look, we’ve been very clear. It’s interesting today isn’t it, we’ve got Ed Miliband and me being asked questions about the SNP, we’ve got David Cameron being asked questions about UKIP. I can say to you unambiguously, no coalition with the SNP at all. David Cameron this morning is asked time and again, will he rule out a coalition with UKIP and he can’t answer the question because we know what’s really going on in …

DM: What about a vote by vote deal with the SNP or coalition with the Lib Dems?

ED BALLS: Look, the last thing we’re going to do … well first of all we are fighting for a majority and to start getting into speculation about what’s going to happen with the Lib Dems or whatever …

DM: You just absolutely ruled out a coalition with the SNP, would you absolutely rule out a coalition with the Lib Dems?

ED BALLS: Look, we’re fighting for a majority and we’re not going …

DM: Well you’re not.

ED BALLS: Of course we’re fighting for a majority.

DM: No, you’re not ruling out a coalition with the Lib Dems.

ED BALLS: No, look, what I’m saying to you is you have to deal with what the electorate gives you and therefore if the electorate has a hung parliament with Labour or the Conservatives not the largest party, we have to find a way in which we govern the country but you also have got to have some principles within that and our principle is very clear. The SNP exists, unlike the Liberal Democrats or to be fair UKIP, the SNP exist as a political party to break up the United Kingdom, that’s their raison d’etre, that’s what they’re for.

DM: And destroy the Labour party in Scotland.

ED BALLS: Well I don’t think they exist to do that, they exist to break up the United Kingdom. I can say to you unambiguously we’re not going to start getting involved in coalitions or deals with a political party which wants to break up the United Kingdom. David Cameron though, is he really going to say the same thing? I think the desperation here, Cameron is obviously now so desperate, it’s not gone to plan, he’s not leading in the polls, he’s flailing out in all directions. Why is he so energetically going on about the SNP? Because one, he worries he is going to fail and secondly, what he actually thinks is he is going to end up with a coalition after the election with UKIP and actually possible, Dermot, with the SNP. David Cameron would love to do a deal with the SNP, that’s what I’ve been saying.

DM: Really? Okay, well I’ll explore that with the Culture Secretary …

ED BALLS: You should but the fact is Dermot …

DM: Last question for you, we are running out of time …

ED BALLS: The SNP want the Tories in and the Tories want the SNP to do well, they’re in bed together.

DM: Okay, on the NHS, we’ve been hearing from Andy Burnham, your Health Spokesman, the Shadow Health Secretary, saying that somehow you have come up with the idea that the Conservatives have got secret plans, you’ve seen them, to cut 2000 nurses from the NHS.

ED BALLS: Well these are from the NHS’s own workforce plans which Andy has researched and has revealed today. The head of the NHS was saying least week that we’re in an immediate crisis now, the Tories are saying more money in four years’ time, they can’t say where it’s going to come from. David Cameron tried to say it was in his figures, that is untrue. There is nothing in the Tory plans at all, they have got billions of pounds of commitments which they can’t say how they’ll pay for – we’ve been very clear, £2.5 billion a year for the National Health Service – because in the next two years or three years, on the current plans, 2000 fewer nurses than now. Now if you want to have fewer nurses, the NHS going backwards and take a gamble on David Cameron who wants to privatise the NHS, fine. I think that would be to betray our National Health Service and we’ve got a better plan, a rescue plan right now for the NHS.

DM: Mr Balls, thank you very much indeed. Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls there.

Posted April 20th, 2015 by Ed's team
April 17th, 2015

The campaigning continues – 20 days to go!

Our fabulous team at work in the office this week

We’ve had a great response all week on the doorsteps and phones across Morley & Outwood. Thank you to all the local activists who’ve been in to help or who are working on the doorsteps across the constituency.

We’ve also had team out supporting our key seats too. I was over in Pudsey to campaign for Jamie Hanley too.

Some people say that politicans are all the same. But as the General Election campaign progresses, it’s clear that our country faces some big choices about the future. After the General Election I want to take forward Labour’s plan. Here are three big choices that this General Election will decide:

  • Our precious NHS is going backwards under the Tories with waiting times soaring, staff under increasing pressure and creeping privatisation. Labour will invest in 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more doctors, guaranteed GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests in one week – paid for by a mansion tax on properties over £2 million and a levy on tobacco companies.
  • The future for our young people looks bleak under the Tories; there are falling numbers of apprenticeships and the numbers on insecure contracts and low wages are rising. Labour will end exploitative zero-hours contracts, increase the minimum wage to £8 and guarantee apprenticeships for young people. And we will increase free childcare to 25 hours for working parents – paid for by raising the levy on the banks.
  • The Tories have failed on immigration with weaker controls on illegal immigration and done nothing to tackle undercutting of local workers’ wages and conditions. Labour will recruit 1,000 more border staff, stop agencies recruiting only from abroad, take action to stop dodgy employers exploiting migrant workers and reform European rules so people cannot claim benefits until they have lived here for two years.
Labour’s manifesto is fully costed and paid for – no additional borrowing is needed to fund any of our commitments. We will cut the deficit every year and do it fairly by reversing the tax cut given to those on incomes of over £150,000 and abolishing the privileged tax status for non-doms who are able to avoid paying their share of tax in this country.
In contrast, the Tories haven’t said how they will fund their own proposals. But we know that every Tory Government in living memory has increased VAT to make their sums add up and their risky and reckless plan would mean even deeper spending cuts in the next three years than we have seen in the last five.
Here in Morley and Outwood I’ve spent the last five years working tirelessly on behalf of local people and to show that Labour’s plan would make things better for people living in our area. There is a clear choice on May 7th between five more years of the Tories and Labour’s better plan.

20 days to go!

Posted April 17th, 2015 by Ed
April 16th, 2015

Desperate Tory promises and why working families will pay the price – my speech in Birmingham

Thank you Jess for that introduction. Your values and passion and commitment to standing up for the working people of your city shine through everything you do.

Jess, you will be a brilliant MP for the Birmingham Yardley constituency.

And thank you to all of you for coming here today.

Just 21 days away from polling day in what is set to be the closest and the most important General Election of my lifetime.

All the party manifestos have now been published.

And there is a now clear choice for the British people in three weeks’ time.

A choice between Labour’s better plan for working people.

Or a plan from the Tories which has failed working families.

A choice between real, concrete, fully-funded pledges from Labour.

Or fantasy and unbelievable promises from the Tories.

So today, I will show how Labour’s better plan can and will be delivered because we’ve said exactly where the money is coming from for all our promises.

I will set out in detail how in marked contrast the Conservative Party manifesto contains billions of pounds of panicky promises with absolutely no idea where the money is coming from.

And I will explain how working families will end up paying the price again if the Tories win the election – because these £25 billion of unfunded promises are the equivalent of over £1400 a year for every working household in the UK.

Labour’s better plan is fully-funded

Labour’s manifesto, which Ed Miliband published on Monday, starts with a clear commitment on the first page. It says:

“Every policy in this manifesto is paid for. Not one commitment requires additional borrowing”

Three days on that Labour commitment remains unchallenged – even by the Conservative Party.

Because for every one of our manifesto promises, we have said exactly where the money is coming from:

-         On childcare, 25 hours of free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to make work pay and help parents balance work and family life – fully paid for by raising the bank levy by £800 million;

-         Tax cuts for millions of working people on middle and low incomes through a lower 10p starting rate of income tax – including for over two million people across the West Midlands – fully paid for by scrapping the unfair marriage tax allowance which won’t help most married couples, let alone most families with children;

-         Business rates cut for 1.5 million small business properties – including 41,000 here in Birmingham and 171,000 across the West Midlands – fully paid for by not going ahead with the further cut in corporation tax for large firms;

-         A paid starter job for every young person out of work for 12 months or more, which they will have to take up – fully paid for by a one-off tax on bank bonuses;

-         Backing the next generation by cutting tuition fees to £6,000 a year and raising maintenance grants – fully paid for by restricting pensions tax relief for the highest earners and clamping down on tax avoidance;

-         A one year rail fares freeze – fully paid for by delaying road projects on the A27 and A358 for which the economic case is still uncertain;
-         1,000 extra border guards – fully paid for by a small charge on non-visa visitors to the UK;

-         And we will tackle disguised employment and scrap the shares for rights scheme so we can abolishing the unfair and hated bedroom tax. Our promise fully-funded.

-         And on the NHS, 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, cancer tests guaranteed in a week – a plan to save and transform our NHS – fully paid for by a mansion tax on properties over £2 million, a levy on the tobacco companies and closing tax loopholes. We are the only party with a fully funded plan to get extra investment into our NHS – with an extra £2.5 billion a year – and we’ll start straight away in our first Budget.

Every policy fully costed, fully funded, fully paid for with no additional borrowing.

Concrete promises which we can deliver and which we will deliver.

Tory plans don’t add up

And what a contrast to the Conservatives this week.

The Tories already have plans for extreme cuts – because they want to go beyond simply balancing the books in the next parliament.

Their plans mean deeper spending cuts in the next three years than the last five years.

They mean double the pace of spending cuts next year compared to this year.

And these numbers already include the independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecasts for economic growth under their plans.

As the OBR has said, George Osborne’s Budget plans will mean “a sharp acceleration” in cuts to public spending.

But since the Budget, the Tories have now made billions of pounds of panicky pre-election promises – with absolutely no idea where the money is coming from.

So today we are publishing an audit of the commitments made in the Conservative Party manifesto.

It’s based on costings from independent experts at the House of Commons Library, Treasury figures and figures provided by the Conservatives themselves.

It clearly shows that the Tories have made billions of pounds of commitments with no idea how to pay for them:

-         £8 billion in 2020 for the National Health Service. But the Tories haven’t said where the money is coming from. As Ed Miliband said this weekend, you cannot fund the NHS on an IOU.

-         A five year rail fares freeze which the Transport Secretary himself has admitted would cost £1.8 billion, £360m a year. But the Tories haven’t said where the money is coming from. Not a penny.

-         Three days a week of paid leave volunteering, which on a cautious basis we have assumed will have take-up of 50 per cent in the public sector and would cost £1.2 billion a year. But the Tories haven’t said where the money is coming from

-         A rise in the personal allowance to £12,500, which on the cautious assumption that it is not introduced until the last full year of the next Parliament would cost £6.5 billion a year. But the Tories haven’t said anything about where the money is coming from.

-         A rise in the higher-rate threshold to £50,000, which on the same basis would cost £3.9 billion a year. But again the Tories haven’t said where the money is coming from.

-         A housing policy which would cost £4.5 billion a year – and which some housing experts believe could cost even more than that. But the Tories have only identified funding of £100m a year.

-         And a childcare policy which costs almost £1 billion a year. But again, where the Tories have only identified £350 million of funding.

That all adds up to a total of £25 billion a year of promises which the Tories have simply not explained how they will pay for.


Working families will pay the price of the Tories’ plans

So with three weeks today until voters go to the polls, I say:

It’s time for the Tories to come clean.

It’s time for the Tories to come clean and explain:

Where is the money coming from?

How will you pay for your panicky promises?

And who will pay the price?

The Tories think they can get away with ducking these questions.
It’s no wonder David Cameron isn’t turning up to the debate tonight and has done everything he can to avoid a head-to-head debate.

But the Tories can’t just brush these questions under the carpet.

David Cameron used to say, before the last election, that no policies will be adopted until they have been properly costed”.

And he said the British people “aren’t fools” and that if you pretend as a politician you can wave some tax cuts at them and not tell them how they’re going to be funded they just won’t believe you”.

On the same day George Osborne said that if you could not explain how a tax cut was going to be paid for it was “a complete tax con, and all of us are going to have to pay with higher taxes later.”

Even as recently as January, David Cameron was saying “the real risk to the NHS is the risk of unfunded spending commitments bringing chaos to our economy”.

And just listen to what George Osborne said just three months ago:

Spending commitments are superficially attractive, they get ready applause from lobby groups, they get you headlines.

“But unfunded spending commitments are made with borrowed money and the price is paid by future taxpayers.

“Add all the spending commitments up and you get an unaffordable bill for Britain that threatens our economy”.

And that is exactly what he is now doing.

So I say to David Cameron and George Osborne:

Who will pay the price of these £25 billion of promises which the Tories can’t say how they will pay for?

David Cameron and George Osborne say ‘look at our track record’.

And their track record shows it won’t be those with the broadest shoulders who will be asked to make a bigger contribution.

Just look at how they have given a huge tax cut to millionaires, opposed Labour’s mansion tax for the NHS and refused to repeat the bank bonus tax.

And just look at how they have asked working people to pay more by raising VAT and cutting tax credits.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, £1100 a year more on average for every household.

So everyone knows it will be working families who end up paying the price again if the Tories win the election.

The Tories have now racked up £25 billion a year of promises which they refuse to explain how they will pay for.

£25 billion is the equivalent of £1,439 a year for every working household in Britain.

That’s the price working families will pay under the Tories for panicky promises made in the middle of a desperate Tory campaign.


Independent audits by the OBR

It shouldn’t be like this.

Two years ago I said the Office for Budget Responsibility should be allowed to independently audit the manifesto spending and tax commitments of the main parties.

It’s a move which I believed would have helped improve trust in politics and the quality of debate in this election campaign.

We challenged George Osborne to back this move and give the OBR the power to do this.

He repeatedly blocked this idea. And now we know why.

Because he did not want the OBR to confirm that every spending and tax commitment in Labour’s manifesto is indeed fully funded.

And he did not want his own Tory manifesto subject to independent scrutiny.

And you know, it’s also clear why the Chancellor was not able to announce any of these commitments in his Budget last month.

Because he did not want them to be scrutinised by the OBR. He did not want the OBR to say that his sums don’t add up.

So Labour will make sure that in the future this cannot happen again.

We will legislate not only to allow the OBR to independently audit the manifesto spending and tax commitments of the main parties where they want that to happen. We will legislate to require the OBR to do so.

And today I call on the other main political parties to say whether they will support this vital legislation so this cannot happen again.

But George Osborne’s failure to let the OBR audit our manifestos doesn’t mean he will escape scrutiny now.

For the next three weeks we and the British people will challenge them every day to explain:

How will you pay for your promises?

Where is the money coming from?

And how can anybody trust you will deliver on these promises when you cannot explain how they will be paid for?

Day after day Tory Cabinet Ministers have appeared on the TV and failed to answer these questions.

18 times George Osborne was asked on Sunday how he will pay for his last minute pledge on the NHS and 18 times he could not answer.

The Tories are trying to take the British people for fools.

They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

They won’t be allowed to get away with it.

And in the future we’ll make sure they can never try to pull the same trick again.


Conclusion

So at the end of this manifesto week the choice is now clearer than ever.

A choice between Labour’s better plan for working people, or a Tory approach for a few, not the many.

A choice between Labour’s concrete and fully-funded pledges which do not require any extra borrowing.

Or the Conservative Party’s desperate and unbelievable promises which the Tories won’t tell us how they will pay for.

Desperate and unbelievable Tory promises which we all know would end up with working families once again paying the price – £1400 a year for every working household in the UK.


That is why we need a Labour government.
Because our NHS and working families can’t afford five more years of the Tories.

Thank you

Posted April 16th, 2015 by Ed
April 8th, 2015

The Tories have edited my words to deliberately mislead people – because they can’t defend their refusal to act on tax avoidance

The Tories have edited my words from January in an attempt to deliberately mislead people because they can’t defend their own refusal to act on tax avoidance. They have dropped the part of my interview where on non-domicile rules I say “I think we can be tougher and we should be and we will”.

That is exactly what we have proposed – ending a situation where people permanently living in the UK year after year can claim non-domicile status to reduce their tax bills and play by different rules to everyone else.

Under our plans, no-one living here ‎in the UK will be able to shelter worldwide income from tax because their father was born abroad or they buy an overseas grave plot.

But our plans, which we were working on in January, do allow for temporary residence for people genuinely here for a temporary period, for example people who are here for two or three years at university. Not to have a short-term option would mean students or business visitors being deterred from coming to our country.

As a result, independent experts have said that the changes we are proposing today – abolishing non-dom status while allowing for genuine temporary residence – will raise revenue.

No amount of misleading editing can hide the fact that the Tories are defending a system which means very wealthy people can avoid tax and play by different rules to everyone else.

Posted April 8th, 2015 by Ed
April 6th, 2015

The Labour Choice on Tax – Tax Cuts for Millions, not Millionaires – my speech in Leeds

Thank you Veronica for that introduction.

We’ve worked closely together in your work for the Alzheimer’s Society and I know how passionate you are about stopping our precious NHS going backwards. We all know you will make a brilliant MP for Elmet and Rothwell.

And we need you in Parliament after 7 May to stand up for your constituents and vote for our jobs guarantee for young people, to vote to repeal the Tory NHS privatisation legislation and to vote to scrap the hated and unfair bedroom tax.

And thank you to all of you for coming here this morning and giving up your Bank Holiday. Although there is, of course, a General Election on!

We all know this is set to be the closest and most important election for very many years. And what better place to talk about why Britain can’t afford five more years of the Tories than Leeds – where five years ago we threw out a failing Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition.

A city where, despite George Osborne heaping much bigger cuts on to our policing, and fire services and local government services than many other parts of the country, Leeds City Council, led by Keith Wakefield, has led the way in the north, bringing the Tour de France here last year and now Google too, investing for the future and just a fortnight ago getting an outstanding grade for our children’s services.

I want to talk today about why – here in Leeds, in Yorkshire and across the UK – we can’t afford five more years of the Tories.

And with today marking the start of the new tax year, I want to set out:

-          the true impact of the government’s choices over the last five years, including the tax changes coming into effect today – with millions paying more while millionaires pay less;

-          how David Cameron and George Osborne are planning to do the same all over again if they get another five years;

-          and Labour’s better, fairer and more balanced plan, which will put working people first and save our National Health Service.

MILLIONS PAYING MORE

First, this Tory-led government’s record.

David Cameron and George Osborne are going round the country – including today – telling people they’ve never had it so good.

How out of touch can they get?

The truth is millions are worse off because of this government’s choices.

Working people have now seen year after year of bills going up faster than wages – with earnings after inflation down £1600 a year since 2010.

But it’s not just wages which have been squeezed.

Families and pensioners are paying more because of the VAT rise – David Cameron’s first broken promise.

And millions of working people have had their tax credits and childcare support cut too.

The rise in VAT alone has cost a couple with children £1800 over the last four years – and that’s according to the Treasury’s own figures.

Childcare support cut for working parents cut by up to £1560 a year because of the reductions to the childcare element of working tax credit.

Half a million families across the UK hit by the bedroom tax, including 7,000 here in Leeds and more than 45,000 across Yorkshire and the Humber.

And more than 3 million working families, including over 40,000 here in Leeds and 300,000 across our region, have seen their tax credits cut in real terms over the last few years.

David Cameron and George Osborne are telling people they’ve raised the personal tax allowance, but they won’t admit that for millions of people this has been more than wiped out by their VAT rise and tax credit cuts.

It’s the same old story with the Tories – give with one hand, take much more away with the other hand.

Families are £1100 a year worse off on average – the true cost of this Tory Chancellor, as our poster shows.

These are independent figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which take into account all of the changes introduced by David Cameron’s government from May 2010 to today – including the changes to the personal allowance.

Here is what the IFS says:

“Tax and benefit changes introduced by the coalition have reduced household incomes by £1,127 a year or 3.3 per cent on average.”
The IFS also exposes how families with children have been hit hardest of all:

“For middle and higher income families with children… loss of tax credits and child benefit has more than offset the effect of income tax cuts.”
And their damning conclusion is this:

“Low-income households with children lose the most as a percentage of their income from changes implemented by the coalition.”

MILLIONAIRES PAYING LESS

And while millions are paying more, millionaires are paying less.

Remember when David Cameron and George Osborne said ‘we’re all in this together’?

We don’t hear them saying that line any more.

Because two years ago today they gave the top one per cent of earners in our country a £3 billion a year tax cut.

A £3 billion a year giveaway, while millions are paying more.

For someone with an income of £1 million that’s a tax cut of £85,000 over the last two years.

For someone earning £5 million it’s a tax cut of £485,000.

And for someone earning £10 million it’s a tax cut of £985,000.

That infamous omnishambles Budget of 2012 didn’t just try to introduce the pasty tax and the caravan tax, it was the final confirmation that these were the same old Tories – on the side of the few, not the many.

As Tory MP Robert Halfon, now George Osborne’s own Parliamentary Private Secretary, said just a few weeks before that Budget, cutting the 50p top rate of tax:

would allow our opponents to re-characterise the Conservatives, as being the party of the rich – for the few, not the many. The signal that such a tax cut would give to the public – many on average wages of £20,000, struggling with rising prices, would be that Conservatives were looking after vested interests

He was right.

The mask slipped as David Cameron and George Osborne ditched the idea that we are ‘all in this together’ and looked after their friends first.

Cutting the top rate of tax for the very highest earners, while raising VAT on families.

It’s the Tory way: millions pay more, millionaires pay less.

ANOTHER FIVE YEARS – MILLIONAIRES PAY LESS

And let’s look at what another five years of the Tories will bring.

Only yesterday George Osborne repeatedly refused to rule out cutting the top rate of tax again for the very richest. David Cameron refused to rule it out as well.

We now know this is their secret plan – another big tax cut for millionaires.

How can this be fair when families here in Leeds and across the country are still struggling and are £1100 a year worse off on average?

How can this be fair when our National Health Service is in crisis and going backwards?

And how can this be fair when we still need to get the deficit down and the Tories are now planning deeper cuts in the next three years than the last five years?

We know that David Cameron had originally wanted to cut the top rate to 40p, rather than 45p.

And just last year Tory Mayor Boris Johnson urged the Tories to “open up some more blue water, and cut the top rate back to 40p”.

We know why they won’t rule it out, because it’s what they’re secretly planning for after the election.

And if they did so it would mean an even bigger tax giveaway for top earners.

For someone earning £1 million it would mean a total gain of £340,000 over the course of the next Parliament from Tory cuts to the top rate of tax.

Meanwhile someone earning £5 million would get a total tax cut of £1.94 million and someone earning over £10 million would gain a total of £3.94 million by 2020.

And for all the embarrassment for David Cameron as one of his Yorkshire Conservative Parliamentary candidates defects to UKIP today during the election campaign – a huge blow for David Cameron…

… we all know the truth – UKIP and the Tories stand for the same policies on NHS privatisation and tax cuts for the very richest too.

No wonder David Cameron and George Osborne won’t rule out a Tory-UKIP coalition after the election.

We know the Tories and UKIP are preparing to work together – and now David Cameron must stop ducking the questions and come clean on their plans.

ANOTHER FIVE YEARS – MILLIONS PAYING MORE

And while millionaires will pay less, we also know millions will end up paying more.

In last month’s Budget the Tories confirmed plans which go beyond simply balancing the books.

Plans for extreme spending cuts which are a grave threat to our living standards and our public services.

As the independent Office for Budget Responsibility said, these Budget plans will mean “a sharp acceleration” in cuts to public spending.

They mean deeper spending cuts in the next three years than the last five years.

In fact, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies said, the Budget plans mean spending cuts after the election twice as deep as anything seen in the last five years.

Just think what that would mean for policing, defence, social care, for the services that people rely on.

And the Tories have also made £10 billion of unfunded tax promises – which they have still not told us how they will pay for.

That’s why people will conclude that to make their sums add up the Tories will end up putting our NHS at risk and raising VAT again.

Of course the Tories will deny it. They’ll point to David Cameron’s desperate and panicky promise not to raise VAT at his last Prime Minister’s Questions.

But we’ve heard it all before.

In 1979 the Tories said they had no plans to raise VAT – and they almost doubled it within weeks of the election. The Tories broke their promise.

In 1992 John Major told the House of Commons: “there will be no VAT increase”. But a year later the Tories put VAT on gas and electricity bills. The Tories broke their promise again.

And in 2010 David Cameron also told the British people he wouldn’t raise VAT. This is what he said:

We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT. Our first Budget is all about recognising we need to get spending under control rather than putting up tax.”

But just a few weeks after the election that’s exactly what he and George Osborne did in their first Budget – raising VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent and hitting the living standards of millions of people.

The Tories have broken their promises on VAT again and again and again.

And that’s why people will never trust the Tories on VAT again.

Because rather than asking those with the broadest shoulders to make a greater contribution, VAT has always been the Tory tax of choice.

At this election the Tories still have £10 billion of unfunded tax promises which they cannot explain how they will pay for.

And everybody knows the only way the Tories can make their sums add up is to raise VAT again after the election.

£10 billion is the equivalent of a two per cent rise in VAT. The Treasury’s own figures show this would mean a tax rise of £360 a year for a couple with children – a VAT rise of £1440 over four years.
Tory governments always raise VAT.

They did it last time and if they’re given another chance they’ll do it again – hitting millions of pensioners and working families.

It’s the Tory way: millions pay more, millionaires pay less.

LABOUR’S BETTER PLAN

But it doesn’t have to be like this.

We need a better plan.
While millionaires are paying less, millions of working people are paying more under this government.

So our manifesto will make clear commitments to the British people.
We will not raise VAT. We will not raise national insurance. And we will not raise the basic or higher rates of income tax.

And Labour can make these manifesto commitments for the next Parliament because, unlike the Tories, all of our promises are fully funded and paid for.
Where we need to raise extra revenue for Labour’s better plan we have been clear where it will come from:

-          A mansion tax on properties over £2 million, a levy on the tobacco companies and closing tax loopholes to save and transform our NHS with an extra 20,000 nurses, 8,000 more GPs and cancer tests guaranteed in a week;

-          A one-off tax on bank bonuses to fund a paid starter job for every young person out of work for 12 months or more – which they will have to take up;

-          Not going ahead with a further cut in corporation tax for large companies, but instead cutting and then freezing business rates for small firms;

-          Reducing the amount of pension tax relief given to the highest earners to pay for a cut in tuition fees to £6,000 – cutting not only the burden of debt on graduates, but reducing the national debt too;

-          Reversing the top rate tax cut – the Tory tax giveaway for millionaires – to help get the deficit down in a fairer way;

-          Closing tax loopholes and scrapping the shares for rights scheme so we can scrap the unfair and hated Bedroom Tax;

-          A higher bank levy to pay for expanding free childcare for working parents of three and four year olds – from 15 to 25 hours a week – to help make work pay and help parents balance work and family life.

All of our plans are fully costed and paid for. And none of our manifesto commitments will need a penny of additional borrowing. Not a single one.

What a contrast to the Tories.

With their £10 billion of unfunded commitments – and with the Institute for Fiscal Studies dismantling their totally false claims about Labour last Monday – it’s now clear why David Cameron and George Osborne have been so desperate to block our plan to allow the Office for Budget Responsibility to independently audit the manifesto commitments of all the main parties.

This is a Prime Minister and Chancellor running scared of their record and running scared of scrutiny too.

And we will do one other thing too.

We will scrap the perverse and unfair marriage tax allowance and make a fairer choice instead.

This is supposed to be David Cameron’s flagship family policy.

But the Treasury’s own figures show that two-thirds of married couples and five out of six families with children won’t be helped by it.
Women abandoned by their husbands, widows, and those who’ve fled from an abusive partner won’t get it either.

And 84 per cent of people who benefit will be men.

So we will scrap this policy and use the money to instead introduce a lower 10p starting rate of tax – which will help more married couples, more women, more families and more working people.

A Labour tax cut for millions of working people on middle and low incomes.

It’s all part of our plan to back working families who are struggling after five years when bills have risen faster than wages:

-          Expanding free childcare for all working parents of three and four year olds to 25 hours a week;

-          Increasing the minimum wage faster than earnings – rising to £8 an hour before 2020;

-          Giving tax breaks to firms who start paying the living wage;

-          Banning exploitative zero-hour contracts and ensuring that workers who work regular hours get a regular contract;

-          Freezing energy prices so bills can fall but not rise and giving the energy regulator tougher powers so that when wholesale costs fall, bills for families and pensioners fall too;

-          And backing first-time buyers and dealing with our housing crisis by getting at least 200,000 new homes built a year, as Ed Miliband set out on Saturday.

A better and fairer plan for millions, not just millionaires.

Because Labour knows what when working people succeed Britain succeeds too.

CONCLUSION

So the choice at this general election is clear.
A choice between a Conservative Party which has a track record of breaking their promises on VAT and will raise it again after the election – or a Labour Party which has never raised VAT and will not raise VAT.

A Tory way which means millions pay more while millionaires pay less, or Labour’s plan to back millions of working people, save our NHS and balance the books in a fair way.

A Labour plan which backs the many, or the same old Tories always standing up for the few.

That’s the choice in five weeks’ time.

After five years of the Tories millions are paying more while millionaires pay less.

Another five years of the Tories will mean deeper spending cuts, another VAT rise for millions and another tax cut for millionaires.

We need Labour’s better, fairer plan.

Tax cuts for millions, not millionaires. On the side of the many, not just the few.

Because when working people succeed Britain succeeds too.

Thank you.

Posted April 6th, 2015 by Ed
April 4th, 2015

Great campaigning in Morley & Outwood & our key seats

It’s been a great first week to the campaign. Here in Morley and Outwood we’ve spoken to well over 1,500 voters and our local campaign team have delivered tens of thousands of letters. But as well as campaigning hard here in Morley and Outwood there are also many other seats which Labour really wants to win to ensure we win. This week I’ve been in Milton Keynes, Swindon, Kingswood in Bristol, Glasgow, Lincoln and Dewsbury. Everywhere people have been telling me how worried they are about the health service, parents saying how hard things have been over the last few years and young people who just want more opportunities to get on and do well.

In Lincoln on Thursday I joined PPC Lucy Rigby at Bifrangi, a fantastic company who are investing, exporting and taking on apprentices – but with apprentice numbers falling in Lincoln in last year and real challenges with transport infrastructure, companies across Lincoln need more support if we are to build on its manufacturing excellence. Lucy would be a brilliant campaigning MP for Lincoln and I know would put her constituents first. Watch our video here.

And today I’ve unveiled the reality of Britain under a Tory Chancellor – households across the country are £1,100 a year worse off because of the choices made by George Osborne with families with children hit hardest of all. The Tories have increased VAT and cut the tax credits of working people. At the same time they’ve given millionaires a huge tax cut.

There is a clear choice facing voters. Labour will cut taxes for 24 million working people through a lower 10p starting rate of tax and expand free childcare for working parents to 25 hours a week. We will reverse the £3 billion a year Tory tax cut for people earning over £150,000 and introduce a Mansion Tax to help rescue our NHS.

Between now and 7th May, I’ll certainly be ensuring I speak to as many voters as possible, here in Morley and Outwood and across the country to ensure we win a majority Labour Government and see Ed Miliband as Prime Minister in Downing Street.

Posted April 4th, 2015 by Ed's team