Labour's action plan for family budgets - Ed Miliband

28 March 2012

ed milibandEd Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, today launched Labour’s action plan for family budgets, five ways to help the squeezed middle in these tough times:

1. Stop the Government’s raid on pensioners and block its £40,000 tax cut to 14,000 millionaires
2. End rail rip-offs by capping fares increases on every route
3. Force the energy firms to cut gas and electricity bills for 4 million over-75s
4. Stop excessive fees charged by banks and low cost airlines
5. Defend working families from the raid on theirtax credits by reversing the Government’spension tax break for those earning over £150,000

The plan launches with a five point action card. To download a copy please click here.

Ed Miliband said:

Let me tell you about a letter from a man who works as a cleaner which was recently received by my office.

It said:

He said, “I work 17.5 hours a week cleaning. I have only had onwe day off since September 2010. I cycle to work every day, even when we had that bad snow.”

He said, “as of 6th April I will have to leave my employment as I will lose my working tax credit of £72.85 per week and will have to claim jobseekers’ allowance.”

He went on, “I was unemployed for a year and found it hard getting this job.

“I want to be a worker not claim benefits. I want to support my family.

“I am being pushed out of work by the Coalition Government.”

It’s people like him that politics should be listening to.

Since I became leader of the Labour Party, I’ve listened to businesses and I’ve listened to employees.

I’ve listened to people in every region.

We’ve heard the quiet crisis in so many people’s houses – the crisis of living standards.

A crisis that people thought we had lost touch with when we were in government.

Today I am setting out some simple, affordable and practical measures which will help families in these tough times.

Which will help the squeezed middle.

I’ve met so many people who say it’s so difficult to make ends meet.

Who say that prices are just going up and up.

Petrol, train tickets, electricity bills.

And this Government is making it worse.

They raised the cost of filling your car up at the pump by raising VAT.

They have taken tax credits away from hard-working families.

And now they have even slapped a 20 per cent tax on takeaway pasties.
Only George Osborne could use a defence which says if you eat a cold pasty you’ll escape his new tax.

All this demonstrates is how out of touch this Tory-led Government is with the crisis of living standards in this country.

They say they can’t do anything about it.

I think government can do something about it, and today I want to talk about how.

Along with our plan for growth and jobs, we are launching a plan to protect family budgets.

The cost of heating a home or getting to work and ensuring your family is not ripped off.

These are not measures which require extra spending but they do require a different set of priorities, different values, a government which is on your side.

First, we would stop the Government’s raid on pensioners.

And we would block its £40,000 tax cut to 14,000 millionaires.

This is a second bank bonus for millionaires.

The money should be given back to pensioners.

Secondly, we would end rail rip-offs by capping fare increases on every route.

Some families are paying more each month to take the train to work than they spend on the rent or the mortgage.

And instead of being on your side, this Tory-led Government has given the rail companies a loophole so they can put up fares by 11 per cent this year, and more in the years ahead.

We would stand up to the train companies.

We would make sure train tickets never go up so much again.

Thirdly, we would force the energy firms to cut gas and electricity bills for 4 million pensioners over the age of 75 – people who have worked hard all their lives.

In these tough times, many are finding it harder than ever to afford to pay the gas and electricity bill.

We shouldn’t make pensioners shop around for their energy, they should get the lowest tariff.

Fourth, we would stop banks, pension funds, and low-cost airlines ripping you off.

When so many families are squeezed just paying the bills, it’s not right that companies get away with adding on so many hidden charges as well, squeezing them even more.

David Cameron is not going to stand up to these companies, but I will.

We would make sure the Financial Conduct Authority could ban banks from adding unfair overdraft charges.

We would force low-cost airlines to show you the final price upfront.

And we would make sure pension fund administration charges are held down.

Finally, we would defend working families from the raid on their tax credits by reversing the Government’s pension tax break for those earning over £150,000.

How can it be right that people like the person whose letter I read out are being forced to quit their jobs?

Millions will be worse off because their tax credits are being cut.

But at the same time the Government has returned £1.6bn to people earning over £150,000 in additional tax relief on their pensions.

These are the wrong priorities, the wrong values, the wrong choices.

When David Cameron started out as leader of the Tory party, he said he was a different kind of Conservative.

He said he cared about the NHS and about people struggling to get by.

He said the Conservatives were no longer the party of the wealthy few.

But he has betrayed that promise.

He didn’t listen to the doctors and nurses on the NHS

And he didn’t listen to the squeezed middle.

The last week has shown this Government for what it is: one that works for the millionaires –

but not for squeezed middle families who work so hard to make ends meet,

not for pensioners who have worked hard all their lives

and not for young people who can only dream of working at all.

No. David Cameron prefers to listen to those who have given millions of pounds to the Conservative Party in exchange for donor dinners and special access in Downing Street.

He listened to people earning a minimum of £150,000 a year who had lobbied furiously for a top rate tax cut.

One week on from the Budget, one thing is clear:

The Conservative Party has betrayed Middle Britain with cuts in child benefit, cuts in tax credits and rises in VAT, cutting pensioners’ tax allowances.

We are going to force votes on the issue of the unfair tax on pensioners and on the 50p tax rate.

You can play your part by contacting your local member of Parliament.

All those Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs who have shown how out of touch they are.

It is our job to make this Government listen to people.

The Tories have abandoned any pretence they can govern for the whole country. They have abandoned Middle Britain.

Labour is determined to fulfil its duty and responsibility to show we can once more be the party of the squeezed middle.

The Labour Party is changing.

We can once more say Labour is on your side - we are with you these tough times.