Monthly Archives: January 2014

Armageddon is hitting local government

I would like to add my two pennies worth  2014 started out with predictable vilification of the poor and the equally inevitable squeeze on our education system, contributing to the depletion of our cultural landscape so in a nutshell we all will witness Armageddon hitting local government particularly hard under this coalition.

Edwina Curry’s idiotic remarks about food banks and Richard Littlejohn’s vile comments in the Daily Mail about council estate hairstyles and accents confirm the class-prejudiced and demographically orientated character assassination clearly operating within the government and its supporters in the press.

Michael Gove’s attempts to rewrite the history of the first world war as a chivalrous fairy tale for school children dovetailed with Channel 4’s prurient smear campaign dressed up as the “documentary” Benefits Street.

George Osborne would have us believe after modest annual growth of 1.9 per cent in 2013 that people in Britain can contemplate a “brighter economic future.”

His Cabinet colleague Vince Cable is not convinced, suggesting that the Chancellor has presided over the wrong kind of recovery, one based on consumer spending and an overheated housing market, especially in London and south-east England.

Osborne’s big business friends are also less than enthusiastic despite their willingness to praise him publicly.

Corporate insistence on retaining tens of billions of pounds on their balance sheets rather than investing these cash assets to generate growth is a far more eloquent commentary on the current economic juncture.

Labour’s refusal to join in the praise singing for Osborne’s policies, pointing out that Britain’s economy has still not achieved pre-2008-crisis output levels, appears to have knocked the petulant Chancellor off his equilibrium.

There can be no other explanation for his hysterical response of labelling Labour frontbenchers as “anti-business … anti-recovery, anti-jobs, anti-investment, anti-the British people.”

Whatever the weaknesses implicit in Labour’s austerity-lite programme, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are correct to bang on about economic recovery not reaching working people.

This is not simply about the effective squeeze on workers’ salaries in both public and private sectors, with pay increases barely half the official – understated – rate of inflation.

It is also about the areas of major expansion, chiefly the services sector.

No less than 86 per cent of the 0.7 per cent growth generated in the last quarter of 2013 came from this sector, while construction dipped by 0.3 per cent as a direct result of government-imposed cuts in infrastructure spending.

Services are an important area of economic activity, but pay levels do not compare with those in the building industry.

Holding back employment in traditionally better-paid areas while expanding areas with pay levels nearer the minimum wage may look good on a jobs count basis, but they contribute to a reduction in working people’s collective purchasing power.

Aberavon MP Hywel Francis spoke earlier this week of 570 people applying for just 15 posts at a new supermarket in Briton Ferry.

It is good news for the fortunate 15 to be able to escape from the depression of being unemployed, but the disappointment experienced by the unlucky 555 exemplifies the desperation of jobless workers in many parts of Britain.

The announcement by Lloyds Bank that it will dump another 1,080 staff, while outsourcing a further 310, speaks further of the collective impoverishment of the working class.

Many people supported the last Labour government’s bailout of the private finance industry on the grounds that it provided a breathing space to put the banks on a sounder footing and save jobs.

In reality the banking bosses are as acquisitive and self-regarding as ever and are building fortunes on the wreckage of blameless workers’ careers.

This doesn’t bother the Chancellor and his fellow free-market, slimmed-down-state zealots for whom the bottom line is all that counts.

If Labour attempts to contest the next election on ground chosen by the City and its favoured political representatives neoliberal orthodoxy, supposed economic efficiency and reduced public spending it will lose its been argued by some sources .

It has been alleged between 2010/11 and 2015/16, the percentage cut in spending will be 10 times greater in the most deprived areas than in those least deprived.

But the government says the most-deprived councils still have £1,000 more per household to spend than those where deprivation is lowest.

Shadow communities minister Hilary Benn said the figures were “shocking”.

He added: “They show the impact of David Cameron and Eric Pickles’s unfair policies.”

The government claims that those with the broadest shoulders must bear the biggest burden, but they are doing the exact opposite and hitting the poorest communities hardest at a time hard-working people are already struggling under David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis.

“Ministers are in denial and are so out of touch they simply don’t understand the impact that these unfair decisions are having on communities that rely on services for the young, the elderly and those most in need.”

photoLocal government is facing the deepest cuts of any part of the public service after central government reduced funding for local authorities by 40%. The government argues that cuts will hit less affluent areas because spending is targeted on such areas.

Nick Forbes, the Labour leader of Newcastle city council, said the cuts were politically motivated and were having a devastating impact on his community. Newcastle, in 41st place on the deprivation score at 29.74, is suffering cuts of 22.1%.

“These figures demonstrate the political motivation behind the government’s cuts, targeting mainly Labour-held councils for much deeper cuts than our Conservative colleagues. It has a very profound impact on the services we are able to provide. There are huge concerns within the whole of local government that the entire system is becoming unviable.

photo1“We have already had to take extremely difficult and heart-wrenching decisions to cut youth services, to close libraries and swimming pools. Looking forward the only way we can deal with the level of cuts is to severely restrict access to adult social care, which will be entirely counterproductive as it will simply shift costs to the NHS. The disproportionate cuts are counterproductive and extremely damaging.”

Councils in the 10 most deprived areas of England are facing cuts averaging 25.3% in the financial years 2010-11 to 2015-16, compared with 2.54% in the 10 least deprived areas.

The figures were drawn up by Paul Woods, the veteran treasurer of Newcastle city council. Woods took government figures on the level of cuts to the 326 local authorities in England and compared them with the multiple indices of deprivation issued by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Liverpool city council, with the highest deprivation score of 43.45, is suffering cuts of 27.1%. Hart district council, with the lowest deprivation score of 4.47, is facing cuts of 1.5%.

Of the 14 councils in England which are receiving an increase in funding, 13 have Tory MPs. These include parliamentary constituencies in Surrey represented by four cabinet ministers – Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Philip Hammond and Jeremy Hunt.

So my dear readers it is time for change bykicking UKIP, Tories, and LibDems between the legs by talking to all your friends and neighbours to vote Labour in both the 2014 European and local Government Elections.






Chuka Umunna full speech British Small Business Administration

here is my three pennies worth of what I think of the three main political parties.

Notice how all the political parties are beginning to drop various hints on how they all want to help small and medium businesses yet this is the most busiest sector that the three political parties fail to aquatically address. To be frank I have seen small business come and go over the years but nothing like the grand scale under this coalition remember for those of us with very long memories will recall under Maggie Thatcher ruling UK at the time of her premiership she in cases some of the right said that she was the best thing since slice cake whilst there are still many people still living now who remembered her for attacking the coal mining industry  which includes small business.

Now here comes what really is on my mind to sum it up in a nutshell David Cameron could not give two monkeys about small businesses like all previous Conservative leaders they are being controlled or driven by big businesses and dare I say it London City there you go I’ve said it.

There is no easy way of saying other than saying he is all mouth with very little action in other words a nodding donkey with the backing of big businesses pulling his strings there is two folds to this argument firstly it’s to boost his party’s electoral prospects by persuading small businesses that they have something to fear Labour and the Tories will champion their causes which includes fears over red tapes.

Secondly he is a great manipulator of public sympathy  (as let’s not forget before he became a politician he use to work in PR) for small businesses to hand big cooperations what they want.

By watering down legislation over health and safety, coupled by further watering down race relations act, and sex discrimination act for small businesses it’s no surprise the Tories hope this will undermine the case for committing the corporate sector to observe certain minimum standards. I’m sure this will do nicely for for the Tory coffers during the election time which David Cameron will say “Thank you master it’s a pleasure to do business with you do knock on my door again”

He and his party has no concept of discrimination on the basis of race or gender which seems to be way over their heads and understanding and I will go further to include health and safety. Welcome to the Victorian era Nasty Party.

So is it not surprising hence Lynton Crosby appears now the so called campaigns strategy director of the Conservative Party who claims that the Nasty Party no longer worries about seeing it as the party for being nasty as Theresa May called it.

Notice no sooner than Labour Party mentions the words 50 pence tax raise all of a sudden all the Tory donors, CBI and wannabe MPs start their attacks via the Tory rags by alleging that it would put the economy at risk which includes cost investment and jobs now where have we all heard this before Er whenever Labour Party is in opposition and getting ready to be a Labour Government elect.

What a darn right cheek of the Conservatives of accusing Labour of putting a political convenience above good economics by which David Cameron acknowledged that 60% of the voters supports our Ed Balls plans.

The question is how many rivers has people have to cross to realize that they are being conned by the coalition by suggesting or implying that they are the party of low tax, low regulation economy will drive away investment and frustrated so called wealth creators that is the total is as 60%.

Take for example:

Maggie Thatcher she said on the 8 Feb 1984:

I think all of you will know that I have a special sympathy with small businesses because I was brought up in one.

There was no 9 to 5 routine. We seemed to be on the go the whole time. Number 10 is like that, and I still live over the shop. But then many of our large companies began life that way.

So, today, I want to pay tribute to the work and achievements of the Small Business Bureau, which is certainly not small and certainly not bureaucratic, but is most definitely businesslike.

I want to pay special tribute to Michael Grylls—a tireless advocate of your cause. He and the bureau felt there should be a special conference at which your voice could be heard.

I am reminded of some lines which might easily have been spoken by someone just starting up his own business:

“You’d scarce expect one of my age

To speak in public on the stage;

And if I chance to fall below

Demosthenes or Cicero,

Don’t view me with a critic’s eye,

But pass my imperfections by.

Large streams from little fountains flow,

Governments never do everything you want. But I hope you find this Government—and the Minister responsible, David Trippier—always ready to listen and quick to respond

This Government believes in small business. Not in an attempt to turn the clock back to the days of yeomen and craftsmen, although they derived enormous satisfaction from their work. But because small firms are indispensable to the creation of jobs and of wealth.

Firms with fewer than 200 employees produce about a fifth of our national income; employ one in four of the total workforce; and provide one job in three in the private sector.

Those are impressive figures. But nothing like so large as in other industrialised countries.

We must learn the lessons of their success and we are beginning to do so. Look around and you will see the part that small firms are playing in economic recovery and creating jobs.

There is a company in Middlesbrough, established with the help of the British Steel Corporation. It is now running a successful pattern-making service for industry. Many of its staff had previously been made redundant by a larger firm making precisely the same products. How did the small firm seize the opportunities which the large firm missed? By taking decisions quickly, by keeping overheads low and by abandoning restrictive practices. There is no room for demarcation disputes in the small firm.

Small firms can be a seed-bed for new ideas and a testing ground for new ways of working. They often lead the way in new products and new services. They put the customer first. They have to, to survive in a fast-changing world.

In the small firm, it’s not “them” and “us”. All pull together in the same team. You may have seen the case of Readhead’s Ship Repairers in South Shields. Following a management buy-out, the company worked through the Christmas break to complete an order on time. Three cheers for such people.

We support small businesses because they embody freedom and independence. They are the roots of a free society. For in the words of one American President:

“Energy in a nation is like sap in a tree; it rises from the bottom up; it does not come from the top down.” ( Woodrow Wilson 1912).

We seek a society

— where people make their own choices and take responsibility for their decisions.

— where rewards are related directly to one’s efforts.

— where people have a stake in its success.

— where individual initiative rather than the diktat of Government provides the driving force.

You will ask what the Government is doing for small firms. The Government is providing positive help. This is not to create dependence on government. That’s the last thing we want. And it’s the last thing you want. Our objective is fair competition, with no loading of the dice in favour of large business or of government. You are busy enough without having to dance to the tune of government departments. “Too many forms”, you say. I agree. So we have already scrapped hundreds of returns. And there is a further bonfire to come.

We have introduced new employment laws to prevent a powerful union from oppressing a small company. As we saw recently in Mr. Shah, a businessman with courage can exercise these new rights in the face of the strongest pressure.

To help small firms gain access to finance, we created the Loan Guarantee Scheme. So far, it has enabled over 13,000 small businesses to borrow around £440 million.

£25 million of new equity money has already been raised for small business through the Business Expansion Scheme. It is now up to you to make full use of this imaginative scheme.

And the Enterprise Allowance Scheme—since it went national last August—has allowed 23,000 people who were unemployed to become self-employed.

The Government has speeded up the slow machinery of local planning applications. We intend to keep the pace brisk.

Of course, too many schemes can be confusing. You don’t know quite where to start. So a major exercise is now under way to group more than sixty of them into a small number, each with its own clear purpose. I have asked for this to be done by May.

Industry too is doing much to help itself. Many of you, I know, take part in local enterprise agencies, showing people how and where to start. With 187 enterprise agencies already in existence, and another 50 now in the pipeline, we are well on the way to 300 in three years. I want to thank large firms for all the support they give to enterprise agencies.

There are major opportunities too for small firms in government purchasing. But they must compete for them. Rightly so, as government purchasing depends on obtaining value for money. No taxpayer would ever wish selling to government to be a soft option for any part of the business community.

But in selling to government, as in other activities, small firms can face particular disadvantages. We are overcoming these by simplifying the procedures and by telling you more about the opportunities which exist. The Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Defence have produced special booklets on how to go about it.

We need to know more about just how successful small firms have been in attracting public sector business. A study is under way and once we know the facts, we will come forward with more proposals.

All of these different measures help in their own way. And even at a time of recession, a firm can achieve its own recovery. But what happens in the wider economy, at home and abroad, matters most of all. So how do I see our economic prospects?

Many things are going well. Today we have the lowest rate of inflation since the 1960s. Rising activity, which was patchy at first, is spreading across the economy. We now have the highest rate of growth in the Community. Recent CBI surveys have shown optimism growing with each successive month. Last year was a record for consumer demand, 1983 the best ever for new car sales.

These successes are a victory for honest money. For years UK governments tried to beg and borrow their way to economic success. Instead, they fathered a massive inflation and destroyed both jobs and growth. We fell a long way behind our competitors.

Our present recovery is not based on a high and unsustainable government deficit. It is not a short-lived boom on the back of inflation. At last we are beginning to perform more like our better overseas competitors.

Productivity is growing rapidly. Our goods are becoming more competitive. We have a healthy balance of payments surplus. We have paid off many of our overseas debts. Capital investment is thriving, with companies transforming their operations by buying new machinery.

It’s all very different from the inflationary boom which petered out in the winter of discontent. This time there are no prices or incomes controls waiting to release their coiled spring and knock recovery on the head. There is now a government dedicated to making markets work again: a Government with many years ahead, if I have my way.

But why as our economy recovers does unemployment stay obstinately high? Why are new jobs coming in profusion in the US whilst in Europe and the UK unemployment is still rising?

In the last twenty years jobs in the US increased from 71 million to 103 million, a faster growth even than the population. In the last ten years in Japan jobs have risen from 51 million to 56 million.

Yet in Western Europe though the workforce has grown, there are three million fewer jobs than in 1974.

Practically all those new jobs in the US came in small and medium sized businesses. They came because the US still has an enterprise culture. Creating wealth is a virtue not a vice. Their markets work more smoothly than ours, pricing people into jobs quickly and allowing them to move around the country more freely.

We must do the same. We have begun the task of changing attitudes and breaking the shackles on the market. We have brought down inflation but we must go further. Our costs are rising only slowly, but in this world doing better than last year is not enough. Our competitors are also getting better year by year. We must not fritter away our opportunity in another expensive round of wage increases, giving more to those in jobs at the expense of those who need jobs. It is no earthly use if wages are so high that you cannot sell the goods. That is the way, not to prosperity, but to penury.

We know increased employment will not be secured by high government spending. We have rediscovered an old truth. It was the 1944 White Paper on Employment Policy which said:

“Without a rising standard of industrial efficiency, we cannot achieve a high level of employment with a rising standard of living.”

The pattern of our economy is changing. It is changing with pain. But there is no future in trying to rebuild the industry of a past age. But change frightens many, spawning dangerous fallacies.

Some seem to think that the only real job consists in making something. Build a ship, assemble a car, make furniture and you have a proper job. Earning a dollar abroad from financial services, from making a film, or running an airline, is not a real job. But you know that jobs come from meeting a market need, producing what the customer wants at a price he will pay. Services are every bit as important as making things.

Some foster the fallacy that technology destroys jobs. Of course, the power loom and the spinning jenny put paid to cottage industry; and the railways the canals. No doubt the coming of the motor car put many blacksmiths out of work. But technology creates new jobs as well. There were more jobs in textiles in this country after the discovery of the power loom than before. Who fifty years ago would have predicted all of today’s jobs in television or air travel?

Some see new jobs coming only in the hi-tech industries. But, as US experience shows, many jobs have appeared in traditional services such as catering and retailing. Some divide industry into the sunrise and the sunset. But this division ignores the power of technology to revitalise older industries such as textiles. Only by putting the microchip and the computer into textiles or motor assembly do those industries stand a chance of survival.

Finally, let me dispel the fallacy that there is only so much work to be done. Some think that as productivity increases, the work must be parcelled out, through early retirement and work-sharing. In truth, better working practices lead to higher wages, which in turn increase demand.

Why does Japan have such a low rate of unemployment when it has such a high rate of productivity growth? Because they know that embracing change is the key to new jobs; work is not limited for those who compete successfully.

In the past, the forces of technology increased concentration and favoured large enterprise. In the industrial revolution, production was drawn to the sources of power and raw materials. The revolution of the motor car was capital-intensive, requiring large assembly plants and refineries.

Today the telephone and the computer terminal are reversing those trends. In promoting small businesses, the Government is working with the tide of technology. The revolution of information technology can usher in a golden age for smaller firms.

There are already signs that our efforts to promote small business are bearing fruit. Despite the recession, 20,000 more businesses registered for VAT in the three years to 1982 and the number of self-employed, having fallen for many years, rose from 1.9 million in 1979 to 2.3 million in 1983.

Running a small business involves great risks. But to run those risks the rewards must be there. That means that taxes must be cut.

We have already reduced the rates of income tax. We have increased personal tax allowances by more than inflation. Had we left untouched Labour’s income tax regime you would be paying £1½ billion more in income tax today. We have kept our promise to cut income tax. At the same time we have cut Labour’s pernicious tax on jobs—the National Insurance Surcharge—from 3½ to 1 per cent. A reduction worth some £2 billion a year to the private sector.

If we are to reduce taxation, we must hold down public expenditure. Almost every week at Question Time in the House of Commons, I am asked by Opposition MPs both to increase spending and cut taxes. It has never been part of this Government’s economic policy to repeal the laws of arithmetic.

The pressures for more public spending are remorseless. But the Government will resist them. Even though we may be opposed by powerful interests our duty is to speak up as well for the taxpayer, the ratepayer, the businessman, the wealth-creator. In a free society, government must leave more in the pockets of the people, to spend as they decide.

We need your support for this. It is not enough to raise your voices in protest at high taxes whilst joining the clamour for more public spending. If you will the end you must also will the means.

The same goes for our rate-capping legislation. Loud are the cries from the local authority unions and the free-spending councils. Rates are the largest single tax that business pays. But the domestic ratepayer pays only two-fifths of all rates. You, the businesses of Britain, pay three-fifths. I look for your vocal support in the fierce debates ahead.

I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society—from a give-it-to-me, to a do-it-yourself nation.

A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit-back-and-wait-for-it Britain.

This means creating a new culture—an enterprise culture—which accords a new status to the entrepreneur and offers him the rewards to match; which breeds a new generation of men and women who create jobs for others instead of waiting for others to create jobs for them.

That is why this Government has given so much attention to the promotion of the small business.

It is not simply that tall oaks from little acorns grow. Small businesses are the very embodiment of a free society—the mechanism by which the individual can turn his leadership and talents to the benefit of both himself and the nation.

The freer the society, the more small businesses there will be. And the more small businesses there are, the freer and more enterprising that society is bound to be.

So my message to you today is quite simple: we will do our best for you, so that you can do your best for Britain.


Prime Minister David Cameron  on the 27 Jan 2014 will announce plans to:

  • make it vastly easier and cheaper for businesses to meet environmental obligations – by March 2015 Defra will have slashed 80,000 pages of environmental guidance saving businesses around £100 million per year
  • help house builders by cutting down 100 overlapping and confusing standards applied to new homes to less than 10 – these reforms are estimated to save around £60 million per year for home builders, equivalent to around £500 for every new home built

David Cameron is expected to say:

Supporting business is a crucial part of our long term economic plan, creating jobs and security for all. That is why, among so many other things, I have insisted on slashing needless regulation. We will be the first government in modern history to have reduced – rather than increased – domestic business regulation during our time in office.

This will make it easier for you to grow, to create jobs and to help give this country the long-term security we are working towards. More than 1.3 million new jobs have been created since I came to office – many of them by small businesses. And I know many of you want to grow further – or may be thinking of employing your first person – but have been put off or held back by red tape.

So we have trawled through thousands of pieces of regulation – from the serious to the ridiculous, and we will be scrapping or amending over 3,000 regulations – saving business well over £850 million every single year. That’s half a million pounds which will be saved for businesses every single day of the year.

I know that while we struggle to bring down domestic regulation, you fear an ever-greater pile of EU-inspired bureaucracy. That’s why I’ve led the fight in Europe to bring an end to this, and continue to press the Commission to implement the 30 recommendations from my Business Taskforce.

This government has already stopped needless health and safety inspections. And we will scrap over-zealous rules which dictate how to use a ladder at work or what no-smoking signs must look like. We’ve changed the law so that businesses are no longer automatically liable for an accident that isn’t their fault. And the new Deregulation Bill will exempt 1 million self-employed people from health and safety law altogether.

Let me just give you a few more crazy examples dreamt up in the past by Whitehall bureaucrats. Employees used to be able to sue their employer if they were insulted by a customer. We’ve changed the Equality Act to stop that. Shopkeepers used to need a poison licence to sell oven cleaner – we’re scrapping that. And today I can announce that we will also:

Make it vastly easier and cheaper for businesses to meet environmental obligations – by March 2015 Defra will have slashed 80,000 pages of environmental guidance saving businesses around £100 million per year.

Help house builders by cutting down 100 overlapping and confusing standards applied to new homes to less than 10. These reforms are estimated to save around £60 million per year for home builders – equivalent to around £500 for every new home built.

And as of earlier this month we have scrapped the ridiculous rule that childminders who give food to children have to register as a food business as well as a childminder.

Make no mistake, this government will support you when you need us. This is the government that:

  • is cutting £2,000 for every business from your jobs tax
  • has provided £1.1 billion package of business rates relief
  • is providing £100 million of broadband vouchers to get business online and exporting
  • has cancelled the increase in fuel duty, saving the average small business with a vehicle £1,300 on petrol by 2015
  • as of today, will give 20,000 small businesses up to £2,000 to help grow

As a business eligible for all of these things, that would be a saving of over £10,000 on these things alone.

So I am here to say we will let you get on with what you do best – enterprising, innovating and – most importantly – creating jobs which give this country the long-term security we need.


The business secretary, Vince Cable, on Monday evening infuriated his Conservative coalition colleagues when he chose the eve of the publication of the latest GDP figures to warn that Britain was experiencing the wrong sort of economic recovery and said his party was not wedded to the pace and scale of deficit cuts after 2015 set out by George Osborne.

He said: “There are different ways of finishing the job … not all require the pace and scale of cuts set out by the chancellor. And they could allow public spending to stabilise or grow in the next parliament, whilst still getting the debt burden down.”

His remarks can be interpreted as putting him closer to the position set out by the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, at the weekend.

Cable warned that weak exports and a hoarding of cash by businesses meant “the shape of the recovery has not been all that we might have hoped for”.

The business secretary said the recovery was under way, but stressed that the UK should avoid another damaging boom-bust in the housing market by building more homes.

In a significant political move, he signalled his clearest parting of the ways with the Conservatives over deficit reduction when he opposed the chancellor’s plan to save an additional £30bn in the next parliament.

“It is a case which he [Osborne] is perfectly entitled to make in a party capacity; but let us all be quite clear that this is a political and ideological commitment,” Cable said in a lecture to the Royal Economic Society. “The Liberal Democrats will reduce the debt burden but ensure this isn’t done at the expense of public services and the most vulnerable in society.”

Cable argued that the additional £30bn austerity proposed by the chancellor after 2015 went beyond the joint coalition commitment to eradicate the structural part of the UK’s current budget deficit – the part of non-investment spending that will not disappear even when the economy has fully emerged from the recession of 2008-09.

His remarks suggest the Liberal Democrats will not necessarily vote for the deficit reduction plan Osborne intends to put to MPs this autumn in an updated charter for fiscal responsibility.

Osborne originally conceived the vote as a way of isolating Labour. But Cable stressed: “The Liberal Democrats differ on ways of finishing the job – we want to ensure this isn’t done at the expense of public services and the most vulnerable in society. It does not necessarily require the pace and scale of cuts set out by the chancellor.

“Undoubtedly some on the Conservative side of the coalition see fiscal consolidation as a cover for an ideologically driven ‘small state’ agenda. Indeed, it is one thing to respond to a record deficit after a long period of rising public spending, as we have since 2010. It is quite another to continue cutting hard from a position where the debt burden is falling and when spending has been under pressure for half a decade.”

Noting that there was a case for the state to exploit record low interest rates to boost public investment, Cable said: “Some of the proposals to extend deep spending cuts on departments and welfare far into the next parliament have more than a whiff of ideology: slashing for its own sake.”

Cable said the immediate outlook for the economy was encouraging – a view likely to be underlined when the Office for National Statistics publishes its first estimate of growth for the fourth quarter of 2013. The City expects expansion of 0.8% in each of the second and third quarters to be followed by a 0.7% increase in activity in the three months to December.

“A real recovery is taking place,” Cable said. “The big question now is whether and how recent growth and optimism can be translated into long-term sustainable, balanced recovery without repeating the mistakes of the past.  We cannot risk another property-linked boom-bust cycle which has done so much damage before, notably in the financial crash in 2008.”

Cable said it was “disappointing” that a 25% devaluation of sterling had done little to improve Britain’s trade performance and said the political uncertainty caused by the Conservative pledge to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU was “deeply unsettling” for firms operating in the single market.

Cable said a third of mortgage debt was held by households who had borrowed more than our times their income. “The US subprime mortgage crisis and its British equivalent were built on the shaky foundations of encouraging mass home purchase in inflating markets and we know where that led. It must not happen again.”

He warned: “Unless our government put long term rebalancing at the heart of economic decision-making I believe the recovery could prove to be short-lived.”

Labour would set up a British Small Business Administration – Umunna

Will be modelled on the US Small Business Administration and spur growth opportunities for small firms and improve business support

The next Labour government will create a Small Business Administration to help Britain grow its way out of the cost of living crisis, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna will say on Monday.

Modelled on the successful United States Small Business Administration (SBA) which works strategically across government, the UK SBA will work to improve the support available, identify opportunities and remove blockages to business growth, ensuring the voices of small businesses and entrepreneurs are better heard in policymaking.

It will help spur greater opportunities for small firms as part of the growth agenda including through procurement and ensure there is access for small business to government schemes and key innovation contracts. It will gather information on how departments can benefit from working more closely with innovative small businesses and enable them to thrive, as part of a wider industrial strategy.

This will be part of Labour’s drive to make BIS more business-focused with greater enterprise expertise and more effective delivery.

The creation of a British SBA is one of the key recommendations of a report to Labour by Lord Andrew Adonis, published this week, into making BIS the world’s most effective business department and examining how machinery of government can better support businesses.

The Federation of Small Businesses backs the idea of a UK version of the US SBA, which was also a recommendation of Labour’s Small Business Task Force led by business people and chaired by former Hewlett Packard Vice President Bill Thomas and the late Nigel Doughty.

The SBA working in conjunction with the British Investment Bank which Labour has committed to establish supported by a network of regional banks to boost finance for small business, will carry out much the same functions as the US Small Business Administration but for UK PLC.

Mr Umunna has had meetings with SBA officials in Washington DC during three visits to learn from best practice overseas in developing Labour’s plans.

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP will make the announcement in remarks at the Federation of Small Businesses Annual Policy Conference in London.

Giving remarks at the FSB Annual Policy Conference in London on Monday, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP will say:

“So Britain can grow its way out of the cost of living crisis and build a balanced recovery built to last we need to do all we can to help our small businesses grow, create new jobs and meet their aspirations. We need government to be a better servant – and customer – of our small businesses and to make sure that entrepreneurs’ voices are heard at the top table. A UK Small Business Administration is necessary to realising this ambition.

“Based on the best examples from around the world, a UK Small Business Administration would create a step change in the opportunities for small businesses from government procurement and improve the quality of support available, operating along a proper British Investment Bank and a network of regional banks to ensure that start ups and established firms can access the finance they need.”



Ed Balls full speech

photoI would like to add my couple of pennies worth:

1)I’m sure many would relate to this never went cold and hungry under the last government. I have under this one. It’s freezing here in the West Midlands, and I doubt many here can afford to heat their homes adequately now, with the massive fuel price hikes. I never thought I would find so much comfort and joy from the humble hot water bottle. So being cold is painful and makes me very miserable indeed. I sometime have nightmares of finding out where to put rice on the table for the family. Horrible, and a real fear, as I really do have to take care to keep them warm. Crashing out on the sofa with three hot water bottles at times, on my feet saving gas for household baths later.

Ah, warm. It’s wonderful to know that we all can do our part this year and in 2015 to prepare ourselves to get rid of this coalition to make way for an incoming Labour Government.

photo (1)2) What I really strongly object to is when Tory Millionaires exploits people who are in receipt of benefits and they feel that they take advantage of them because they have a few properties on Benefits street( James Turner Street Winson Green Birmingham)

3) After watching PMQs I did some reflection over the weekend I’m some will agree or beg to disagree with the replies given by David Cameron to the opposition wittingly with the same old lines it’s Labour’s fault.

photo (2)4) Notice recently how conveniently the Coalition has gloss over the sum of 167,000 drop in unemployment drowned out the figure of 147,000 headlines on 22 Jan 2013 more people joining the millions of self-employed without a regular salary.

5) After the release of the latest Office for National Statistics data the so called big quarterly increases in employment on record. More jobs means security, peace of mind and opportunity.

What David Cameron failed to mention at PMQs:

1) the Statistics also revealed a big rise in numbers registered as self-employed taking the total to 4.36 million. Another 1.4 were working part-time because they couldn’t get full time job.

2) On average 6 people are chasing every job that is going. Wages for those with work are flatlining.

3) Average pay raises remained way behind inflation at an annual 0.9% to November 2013 leaving most people facing another real terms fall.

4) The figures show only the top 10% of earners fell behind the CPI rate – which excludes the costs of buying and owning a home such as mortgage interest repayments – with an average increase of 2%. It said it made its claims by taking into account cuts to income tax and national insurance.

5) The figures were “highly selective” and did not take into account changes to benefits

6) These highly selective figures from the Tories do not even include the impact of things like cuts to tax credits and child benefit which have hit working families hard.

7) Under the current government, real annual wages had fallen by £1,600 since 2010 and figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that “families are on average £891 worse off as a result of tax and benefit changes since 2010”.

photo (3)Intriguingly Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said there is “no immediate need to increase interest rates”

The case for a rate rise would be examined in next month’s inflation report, but that it was important to look at the whole labour market, not just one indicator.

On Wednesday, the jobless rate fell to 7.1%, close to the 7% at which Mr Carney said he would consider a rise.

He also said the change, when it comes, would be very gradual.

photo (4)Mr Carney was asked whether it was a problem that the unemployment rate had come down so much faster than the Bank of England had been expecting.

The Bank was not expecting the rate to fall to 7% for another two years.

“If our forecast is going to be wrong it’s better to be wrong in that direction,” he said.

He said that the 7% figure was one that he had used to capture the idea that unemployment was going to have to fall considerably before he would “even begin to think about” raising rates.

A decision for the whole of the rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) but that it was “really about overall conditions in the whole labour market”, and he did not want to focus on just one indicator.

He said that productivity in the labour market was also an issue and that there were still many people working fewer hours than they wanted to.

He played down the importance of the increased growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund, pointing out that “it’s coming off a low base” and the economy had still not recovered to its 2008 levels.

“The worst of the crisis is behind us but the financial system is not functioning as well as it could,” he said. “Uncertainty among households and businesses is still preventing investment.”

Mr Carney’s comments echoed those made by Paul Fisher, a member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), in a speech earlier on Thursday.

Mr Fisher said: “My own judgement is that we are still some way off the point where it is appropriate to start raising bank rate and that when it is time, it would be appropriate to do so only gradually.”

Mr Carney was asked about whether he would be happy for an independent Scotland to use the pound.

He stressed that it would not be his decision and the central bank would implement whatever Parliament decided.

But he revealed that he would be visiting Scotland next week to discuss it with First Minister Alex Salmond.

Hey folks my plan is working

Hey folks my plan is working

Now we all learning that George Osborne is claiming “I completely reject that forward guidance is a failure,” he told a panel on monetary policy in Davos.

He added that the Bank’s clear communication had helped create “a very strong set of data in the UK”.

BoE governor Mark Carney had said an interest rate rise would not be on the agenda until unemployment fell to 7%.

But figures on Wednesday showed again that the unemployment rate had fallen much faster than the Bank expected.

Chancellor Osborne stressed that the unemployment rate was still only at 7.1%, and quoted Mr Carney’s comment from a BBC Newsnight interview on Thursday that there was no need for an immediate rise in interest rates.

The Bank of England had not been expecting the jobless rate to hit 7% for another two years.

In a separate speech, made in Davos on Friday, Mr Carney said that the UK’s unemployment rate had fallen “faster” than the Bank had anticipated when it first set 7% as a trigger for a possible review of interest rates.

However, he said that this would not lead to a hurried rate rise, and re-affirmed that the 7% unemployment marker “is merely the point at which the MPC begins to even think about adjusting policy”.

He added that any review of forward guidance would come in February’s Bank of England inflation report, and that “The MPC will consider a range of options to update our guidance”. He did not suggest that forward guidance was to be abandoned.

But Mr Osborne said in his speech that the debate over forward guidance was only taking place because there was a recovery underway, highlighting the differences with the “gloomy debate” about the economy at Davos last year.

He added that the growth in the economy was evidence that monetary policy had worked and that he had expanded the range of tools available to the Bank of England.

On the sidelines after the discussion, a delegate describing himself as a market participant leapt to the defence of Mr Osborne and Mr Carney, saying it was perfectly clear that the 7% had been a threshold and not a trigger for the raising of interest rates.

Mr Carney, in his Friday speech, said that the UK’s economic recovery “has some way to run before it would be appropriate to consider moving away from the emergency settling of monetary policy”.

“It is widely recognised that our 7% threshold is not a trigger for raising the bank rate. Last August, the MPC said that when the 7% unemployment threshold was reached, there should be no assumption of an immediate, automatic change to its policy stance,” he said.

However, others have said that Mr Carney’s comments this week have shown that the forward guidance policy failed.

Economists at JP Morgan Chase said: “The guidance framework has not just failed to offer the clarity the monetary policy committee was seeking, but has, in our view, created unnecessary confusion and volatility in rate expectations.”

Schroders’ European Economist, Azad Zangana, was also critical of the policy. However he defended the Bank’s mis-forecast on the unemployment rate.

“Most economists, including ourselves, came to similar conclusions (on unemployment) last year,” he said.

But he added: “We are critical of the use of forward guidance in the first place and the way that it relies on a single indicator to provide households, businesses and financial markets with a signal on the path of interest rates.”

photo (5)Here is another of Iain Duncan smiths idea which has gone to pots What a cheek of Iain Duncan Smith tried to make claims on 23 January 2014 his welfare reform was a success that had been deliberately misrepresented by his opponents.

It’s not surprising that Work and Pension Secretary has decided to attack people on benefits wittingly in the history of welfare reform. He takes another step by trying to insult our intellectual by trying to say that he is only doing what Thatcher would have done if she was still leader of the Conservatives.

I’m sure by now there are many people will recognize that the welfare system needs reforming but not at the expense of wasting tax payers money on grand projects

Please find enclosed for your perusal Ed Balls full speech:

Can Labour Change Britain?

Thanks Jessica.

And thanks to all of you for giving up your Saturday to be here today.

The title of today’s conference is ‘Can Labour Change Britain?’

And with the next General Election in sight, I want to set out today how this Labour generation can rise to the challenge.

Jessica, I first started attending these Fabian New Year conferences over 25 years ago.

I remember hearing the then Shadow Foreign Secretary Gerald Kaufman debating the pros and cons of unilateral nuclear disarmament…

… and a young rising star called Tony Blair, who had just written an article for a fashionable magazine of the day, called Marxism Today.

How times changed!

When I first started coming to these conferences, the fight to rid Labour of Militant was won, and Labour was finally putting the corrosive internal party division of past decades behind us.

But even as Neil Kinnock fought valiantly for sanity, and even as the Tory government of the day cut taxes for the wealthy, while child poverty rose and long-term unemployment became entrenched…

… we had still not yet re-established ourselves as a credible voice for the hopes and aspirations of working people.

Already out of power for a decade, a return to government was still a long way off.

So I am proud that today, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, this Labour generation has learned from that long and bleak period in opposition.

Just over three and a half years after a General Election defeat, this Labour movement is more united, more in touch and more determined than ever.

Yes, we once again we have a Tory government cutting taxes for the rich, while over 900,000 young people are struggling to find work and child poverty is forecast to rise.

But this time Ed Miliband and Labour are leading the debate, setting the agenda and speaking up for working people – middle and lower income Britain – facing a cost of living crisis.

As Ed Miliband said in his speech last week:

“This cost-of-living crisis is about the pound in people’s pocket today. But it is not just about that. It reaches deeply into people’s lives. Deeply into the way our country is run. Deeply into who our country is run for. And because the problems are deep, the solutions need to be too. “

Ed is right.

This is no time for steady as she goes.

No time for propping up the status quo.

Our country is crying out for real and lasting change.

And it is this new Labour generation – from the leadership out across our party – that is now preparing a credible and radical programme for government that I believe can win public trust.


So Labour has changed over the past twenty five years.

But as for the Tories – divided on Europe, stigmatising the vulnerable, dismantling the NHS – they haven’t changed at all.

And there is a reason why we are all expecting a nasty, vicious, negative and backward-looking election campaign.

Because if this election is about credible change and a positive vision for the future, then the Tories will lose.

David Cameron had his chance to stand for change in 2010.

After the global financial crisis and with the MPs’ expenses scandal fresh in everyone’s minds, people wanted change then too.

But David Cameron failed to win public support or articulate a vision.

He failed to win a majority.

He failed to convince the country that the Conservative Party had changed and had earned the right to change Britain.

And as the last three years have shown, the country was right not to trust the Conservatives.

But to fully understand this Tory failure, and the challenge ahead for Labour, we need to be clear about what’s gone wrong and what needs to change.

Living Standards

Ed Miliband has been right to argue that the cost of living crisis is undermining support for a Tory-led government that promised to make people better off.

This government promised strong and balanced growth, rising living standards and the budget deficit gone by 2015.

The Tories and their supporters are now working hard to persuade the public that any growth in our economy is a vindication of their economic policies and disproves our critique that the Budget and Spending Reviews of 2010 choked off the recovery and flat-lined the economy.

But the Tories have delivered the slowest recovery for over 100 years, real wages down by an average of £1600 a year for working people, and painful public spending cuts extended well into the next parliament because three years of flatlining means that government borrowing has been £200bn higher than planned.

Simply to catch up all the lost ground since 2010 we need 1.5 per cent growth each quarter between now and the general election.

And Tory claims their plan is working are not going to wash with working people who are seeing their living standards falling and for whom this is no recovery at all.

Because the current cost-of-living crisis is not just about people on tax credits, zero-hours contracts and the minimum wage. It’s also about millions of middle-class families who never thought that life would be such a struggle.

And in the last 24 hours David Cameron has gone from not wanting to talk about the cost-of-living crisis to effectively telling people they’ve never had it so good.

A desperate attempt to use highly misleading and selective statistics to tell people they are better off when they feel worse off. It makes the Tories look even more out of touch than before.

As the IFS has made clear, household incomes will be substantially lower in 2015 than in 2010. No amount of smoke-and-mirrors can allow David Cameron to wriggle out of this basic fact: hard working people are worse off under the Tories.

David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s plan may have worked for a privileged few at the top.

But for the million young people trapped out of work…

For millions of ordinary families, worried about how to make ends meet when wages are falling, and prices are going up…

For the young couples struggling to get on the housing ladder while the chronic shortage of homes forces up prices…

For the aspirational majority who work hard, pay their taxes, who want to get on and not just get by, but who are working harder for less as the cost of living keeps on rising…

… this Tory plan isn’t working.

And people feel betrayed.


But we know there is a deeper reason why the Tories are failing.

The deeper public concern is one of fairness.

A view that David Cameron’s Britain does not reward the majority who work hard and save…

…but instead serves the ‘wrong people’ – the rich and the powerful.

That view was already around in 2010 – and directed at all political parties.

But the view that this Tory-led government is standing up for the wrong people has become deeply entrenched.

As the latest Ashcroft polls have shown – just 21 per cent of people think the Conservative party stands for fairness.

Because on energy bills, zero-hours contracts and excessive bank bonuses, the Tories aren’t representing the views of the majority, the hard-working people of Britain.

How often have you heard these words on the doorstep:

– I’m worse off;

– The Government is doing nothing about it;

– They stand up for the rich and powerful, but they don’t seem to care about people like me.

And by cutting the top rate of income tax for people earning over £150,000 and choosing to introduce the unfair and perverse bedroom tax, David Cameron and George Osborne have shown us just how out of touch they really are.


On the cost of living and the condition of Britain, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, Labour is winning the argument.

Today, twice as many people think that Labour wants to help ordinary people get on in life as the Tories.

More than half of voters think that Labour is the party which will best tackle the cost of living crisis and improve living standards for people like them

But this is no time for complacency.

Because David Cameron’s failure to win public trust also reflects a deeper mistrust of politics more widely.

When the question is “Can politicians make things better?”…

… the danger is, for too many people, the answer is ‘no’.

And Lord Ashcroft’s recent polling report on the state of Tory support in marginal Tory seats makes clear that the rise of the UK Independence Party is a direct reaction to the failure of the Tory party to deliver change, combined with a general anti-politics mood. Anti-politics, anti-business, anti-European too.


So we cannot assume that Tory failure will simply translate into Labour success.

Our task is to show to a sceptical electorate that Labour has learnt from its mistakes and that we have the values, the ideas and the credibility to deliver the change Britain needs.

And to do so, in my view, we have to stand back and reappraise what has been happening in our economy over the last forty years.

Over the course of my lifetime, the global economy has fundamentally changed – and changed for the better.

As communism collapsed and countries gradually liberalised their economies, rapid reductions in poverty and increases in living standards have taken place in China, across Asia, in South America and Eastern Europe with growth now increasingly taking off in Africa.

Meanwhile, rapid changes in information and communications technology have transformed the way we live our lives and brought the world closer together. It is staggering to think that there is more computing power in my Blackberry than in the Apollo rocket that landed on the moon in 1969.

And as this pace has accelerated, global trade has increased as never before with new market opportunities opening up not just for us but also for rapidly growing middle income countries from Brazil to Indonesia.

But these changes have created big challenges too.

Trade and technology have combined to place a premium on higher levels of skills and qualifications, and reduced routine jobs which can be more easily done by robots or workers in poorer countries.

Changes in the structure of labour markets – often caused by the strains of global competition and including the fall in trade union membership – have also had a knock on effect on wages.

And as a result, labour markets are polarising with jobs growth happening primarily at the bottom and top of the income distribution.

Good jobs in the middle of the distribution have been far harder to come by. And in recent years, except at the very top, wages have stagnated. While, as resources like food, fuel and water have become scarcer, rising prices have put pressure on the cost of living.

These powerful trends were under way well before the global financial crisis. And while that crisis, and the failure of bank regulation which drove it, was not inevitable, there is a remorseless logic which connects the structural revolution of globalisation with the financial crisis that followed.

Global imbalances built up as cash-rich countries benefiting from export-led growth, like China, supported rising trade deficits and consumer debt in many developed countries. The financial services sector aided and abetted this process by misallocating capital and underestimating risks.

And when the global financial crisis caused huge collapses in economic output, those with bigger banking sectors, like Britain, were hardest hit.

So our generation now faces a twin task.

Dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis.

And resolving the underlying tensions of globalisation and technological change which have not gone away.

For Britain, with the Eurozone in crisis, businesses very cautious and our banks still fragile, this was always going to be a long and hard adjustment.

Like many economists, I argued strongly that George Osborne’s decision to accelerate premature tax rises and spending cuts would hit confidence, choke off our economic recovery and make it harder to get the balanced and investment-led recovery we need and to get the deficit down. So it has proved.

And with the global financial system still very vulnerable, the Eurozone moving from crisis to stagnation, and the Chinese economy slowing down, the world economy is certainly not yet out of the woods.

Here in Britain we have had the slowest recovery for 100 years but recently we have seen a long overdue return to growth

After three damaging years of flatlining, any growth is welcome.

But as we debate how to secure a stronger investment-led recovery, our task is also to look beyond the immediate challenge of economic and fiscal adjustment.

We have to ask a bigger question –– how do we create a stronger and fairer economic model for the future where the many benefit from rising prosperity and not just the few?

Some on the right argue for a return to free-market, trickle-down economics – cutting taxes at the top, stripping out regulation and making deep cuts to public services.

Others say if the problem is that rapid globalisation and technological change have undermined the pay and prospects of working people, then the simplest thing to do is to turn our back on those economic forces.

To put up trade barriers.

Or to leave the European Union.

I know, as an MP who had, until recently, the largest BNP membership of any constituency in the country, how some on the extremes of left and right see the solution to be isolationism, turning inwards, setting their face against the rest of the world and the global economy.

And it would be a mistake to believe that the frustration with the status quo in Brussels is confined to UKIP voters, any more than is scepticism about our open trading relationships with the rest of the world.

But I say that both these arguments are the road to economic ruin.

In my view, Britain has always succeeded – and can only succeed in the future – as an open and internationalist and outward-facing trading nation, with enterprise, risk and innovation valued and rewarded.

Backing entrepreneurs and wealth creation, generating the profits to finance investment and winning the confidence of investors from round the world.

But we cannot succeed the Tory way through a race to the bottom – with British companies simply trying to compete on cost as people see their job security eroded and living standards decline.

We can only succeed through a race to the top – investing in the skills of all as we make our economy more dynamic and competitive, and earn our way to higher living standards for everyone.

That is why Labour is today the party of radical economic change

I know some in the business community believe that Labour’s focus on living standards, fairness, transparency and competition is anti-business.

But we will only win support for an open and dynamic market economy if we show that it can work for all, and not just some.

Without an active industrial policy to manage these powerful forces of globalisation and technological change, inequalities will continue to widen and, for many, precarious low skilled work will increasingly become the norm.

At a time when politicians and business leaders often seem to compete with each other for bad headlines, none of us can afford to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the concerns of the majority of people across our country that our economy is not currently working for them and their families.

That is why it is so vital that Labour shows we can succeed where the Tories have failed, working with business to shape the economic policies that can change Britain and earn our way to rising living standards for all.

And that is the agenda that Ed Milliband, my Shadow Cabinet colleagues and I have been setting out in recent weeks – not anti-business, but anti-business as usual.

To support good jobs and higher skills for all, we will:

– Expand free childcare for working parents to 25 hours a week to help make work pay.

– Introduce a compulsory job for the long-term unemployed and every young person under the age of 25 out of work for more than a year – paid for by repeating the successful tax on bank bonuses and restricting pensions tax relief for the very highest earners – a job they would have to take up or lose benefits.

– Introduce a new ‘gold standard’ vocational qualification and, as Rachel Reeves set out this week, require compulsory basic skills tests for anyone claiming Jobseekers Allowance.

– Increase support for high-end apprenticeships, including in companies seeking to bring in more skilled migrants.

– And combine tougher immigration controls and fair labour market rules which can get the benefits of migration while commanding public trust.

To ensure markets work in the public interest and for the long-term, we will:

– Legislate for more competition and tougher regulation in energy and banking to make sure these markets serve the public interest.

– Support new rules on takeovers and executive pay, following the Kay and Cox Reviews, so that corporations focus on long-term value rather than short-term returns.

– And Chuka Umunna, Lord Adonis and I will also explore reforms to ensure workers benefit from increased productivity through greater profit-sharing and employee share ownership, not the Tory plan to trade away rights for shares, but looking at the case for a new national, tax-advantaged profit-sharing scheme.

To deliver an investment-led recovery, we will:

– Set up a British Investment Bank to support small business, as we cut and then freeze their business rates.

– Back a new 2030 low carbon target to stimulate long-term investment in renewable, nuclear and clean gas and coal.

– Invest in science and R&D, with strengthened collaboration between universities and businesses, to support innovation and nurture new ideas and new companies.

– And commit to building 200,000 new homes a year by 2020, with reforms to our planning system and a new long-term Infrastructure Commission as proposed bygf Sir John Armitt.

And to ensure this long-term prosperity is shared around Britain, we will devolve economic power to innovative cities and regions and investment in our high technology and manufacturing supply chains.

These are the clear and detailed and deliverable policies we need to change Britain and persuade a sceptical public.

Radical – but not utopian.

Visionary – but evidence-based.

Egalitarian – but honest and realistic.

You could even call it a Fabian approach to managing economic change.


But there is a further challenge we face in winning public trust to deliver change.

After three years of economic stagnation and with the sustainability of the recovery still uncertain, we stand to inherit a very difficult fiscal situation in 2015.

As Ed Miliband said last week, deficit reduction alone does not make for a successful economic policy.

But both of us know it is a necessary and important part of it.

With the deficit we inherit currently set to be nearly £80 billion and the national debt still rising, it will be up to the next Labour government to finish the job.

This means that delivering change – on living standards, on skills and innovation and on jobs for young people, while safeguarding our NHS and vital public services – will be more difficult than at any time in living memory.

Certainly more difficult than at any time since the post-war Labour government of 1945.

So let me be clear.

We are determined to deliver the change we need to make our economy work over the long-term and to build a fairer society that rewards hard work and protects the vulnerable.

But we must make sure the sums add up.

We cannot and will not duck the hard choices ahead.

Without fiscal discipline and a credible commitment to eliminate the deficit, we cannot achieve the stability we need.

But without action to deliver investment-led growth and fairer choices about how to get the national debt down while protecting vital public services, then fiscal discipline cannot be delivered by a Labour government – or, in my view, by any government.

It is these three objectives – fiscal discipline, growth and fairness – which will guide our approach.

Let me take them in turn.

Fiscal Discipline

First, fiscal discipline.

Last year, I set out how we will deal with the very difficult fiscal situation we will inherit in 2015.

We won’t be able to reverse all the spending cuts and tax rises that the Tories have pushed through.

We will have to govern with less money, which means the next Labour government will have to make cuts too.

No responsible Opposition can make detailed commitments and difficult judgments about what will happen in two or three years time without knowing the state of the economy and public finances that we will inherit.

But we know we will face difficult choices.

The government’s day-to-day spending totals for 2015/16 will be our starting point.

There will be no more borrowing for day-to-day spending.

Any changes to the current spending plans for that year will be fully-funded and set out in advance in our manifesto.

And we will insist that all the proceeds from the sale of our stakes in Lloyds and RBS are used to repay the national debt.

Alongside these commitments, Chris Leslie, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has already begun our zero-based review of public spending.

By examining every pound spent by government from the bottom up, we will root out waste and inefficiency.

And we will look at new ways of delivering public services suited to tougher times – while ensuring that they continue to make a huge contribution to the strength of our economy and the fairness and stability of our society.

Even those departments or areas of government spending which we chose to ring-fence will still be subject to this review because it is vital that we get maximum value for money for every pound spent.

So we have already gone further than any Opposition has at this stage in setting out a clear and disciplined approach.

But I want to go further still.

So I am today announcing a binding fiscal commitment.

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

So my message to my party and the country is this:

Where this government has failed, we will finish the job.

We will abolish the discredited idea of rolling five year targets and legislate for our tough fiscal rules within 12 months of the general election.

Tough fiscal rules which will be independently audited by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

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 the public finances we inherit.

And because we will need an iron commitment to fiscal discipline, I have also asked the Office for Budget Responsibility to independently audit the costing of every individual spending and tax measure in Labour’s manifesto.

I urge the Chancellor to work with us to make this happen ahead of the next general election.

This would be the first time this kind of independent audit has ever happened – and I believe it is essential to restore public trust in politics and improve the nature of the political debate.


Second, alongside fiscal discipline, the reforms I set out earlier to get people back young people back to work and earn our way to long-term economic growth and prosperity are also vital to deficit reduction.

We can only reduce the fiscal deficit if our recovery is balanced, long-term and doesn’t sow the seeds of problems ahead.

The challenge is to deliver stronger, investment-led growth which helps reduce the deficit in a sustainable way.

And with business investment still weak, housing demand once again outstripping housing supply and the IMF forecasting that UK growth will slow down again next year, it’s clear that this is not yet a recovery that is built to last.

On housing, we support Help to Buy.

But we have called on the government to allow the Bank of England to urgently review how the scheme is working and to target its impact.

As we have said before, it cannot make sense for taxpayers to guarantee mortgages on homes worth as much £600,000.

And we have consistently warned, as have the CBI and the IMF, that action to support housing demand must be matched by action to increase housing supply.

But none of these things have happened.

So I say George Osborne must listen to the CBI and the IMF and act in the Budget to bring forward housing investment.

We need Help to Build, not just Help to Buy.

This would help people aspiring to own their own home, create thousands of jobs and apprenticeships and ensure we have a recovery that is built to last.

And it is why housing investment will be a central priority for the next Labour government.

Of course, there is a careful fiscal judgement to be made.

I have said that there will be no more borrowing for day to day spending in 2015-16.

But consistent with our tough fiscal rules, we will assess the case for extra capital spending to boost growth and jobs and make our economy stronger for the long-term.

Because the longer it takes to deliver the long-term policies that will transform our economy and earn our way to higher living standards, the harder it will be and the longer it will take to get the deficit down.


Third, Labour will combine iron discipline on spending control and action on growth with a fairer approach to deficit reduction.

That means facing up to the tough choices that are necessary if we are to take a fairer approach to deficit reduction.

As I said at this Conference two years ago, fair pay restraint in the public sector in this parliament would have been necessary whoever was in government.

And at a time when the public services that pensioners rely on are under such pressure, the next Labour government will not continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners.

We won’t be able to reverse the Government’s cuts to child benefit for the highest earners.

We will keep the benefits cap, but make sure it properly reflects local housing costs.

We will cap structural social security spending.

And yes, over the long-term, as our population ages, there will need to be increases in the retirement age too.

And we will make changes to create a fairer tax system.

So we will crack down on tax avoidance, scrap the shares for rights scheme and reverse the tax cut for hedge funds.

We want a lower 10p starting rate of tax, which would help make work pay and cut taxes for 24 million people on middle and lower incomes.

And today I want to go further, to ensure that those with the broadest shoulders bear a fairer share of the burden.

The latest figures show that those earning over £150,000 paid almost £10 billion more in tax in the three years when the 50p top rate of tax was in place than when the government conducted its assessment of the tax back in 2012.

And when the deficit is still high, when tough times are now set to last well into the next parliament, when for ordinary families their real incomes are falling and taxes have risen …

… it cannot be right for David Cameron and George Osborne to have chosen to give the richest people in the country a huge tax cut.

That’s why, for the next parliament, the next Labour government will reverse this government’s top rate tax cut so we can finish the job of getting the deficit down and do it fairly.

For the next Parliament, we will restore the 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000.

Reversing this unfair tax cut for the richest one per cent of people in the country.

And cutting the deficit in a fairer way.


So, can Labour change Britain?

My answer is a resounding Yes.

By setting tough and credible fiscal rules.

By supporting the long-term growth that will earn our way to higher living standards and help reduce the deficit.

By rooting out waste in public spending.

By making fairer choices on tax and benefit reform.

By pursuing radical reforms to tackle the cost of living crisis and build an economy that works for working people.

Yes, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, Labour can change Britain.

And less than four years after our general election defeat, we are also showing that Labour has changed

Working with business to make our economy more dynamic –but challenging business to support difficult reforms which promote competition and long-term value.

Recognising the role that trade unions play in our economy – but challenging them to change as we reform our party for a new century.

Supporting the most vulnerable and abolishing the bedroom tax – but proposing tough reforms to put work first.

Pro-European – but not ducking the big reforms we need.

Open to the outside world – but refusing to accept a race to the bottom where low-skilled, low-paid work becomes the norm.

Celebrating wealth creation and entrepreneurs – but clear that the richest must bear their fair share of the burden.

Yes, Labour has changed.

So let us now win the trust of the British people.

And together let us deliver the change Britain needs.

Thank you.














Employment minister Esther McVey comments does not help

IDSI made a decision to watch Benefit Street before I comment on my blog my thoughts on it because it was obvious to me the programme would be portrayed in some quarters as a god send to show a negative views of people on benefits which plays into the coalition and far right groups agenda to claim that foreigners are taking away our jobs and this is what happens when you let them in our nation.

On the other hand the programme shows some people do abuse the benefit system which alleges criminality, and drug taking those are a minority to the majority who are decent law abiding citizens who goes out to find employment which some will return to further education to gain the necessary qualifications to find a decent prospect of employment.

I have, though, read the many thoughtful commentaries about Benefits Street, and what follows when television “ratings” go chasing caricatures of the poor.

We already know there have been demands that the police prosecute some of the residents in “the street.”

There have been death threats on Twitter. And a barrage if indignant “Scroungers” headlines has been splashed across the front pages of right-wing newspapers.

The street in Birmingham may already have become a perverse tourist attraction, but there has also been a flood of public complaints about media distortion to the regulator Ofcom.

Britain has a seedy history of programmes like this, picking often northern cities and communities to reinforce beliefs that it is the poor who are to blame for the mess we are in.

Such programmes tend to follow the cycles of economic recession.

So, even before the Chancellor warns of a further £25 billion of cuts needed in the next Parliament, his austerity economics have been forcing districts in all parts of the country to tighten their belts.

“Extreme” weather events have added to the crisis by taking it into areas untouched by austerity.

The underpinnings of society, and what sustains it, suddenly look very shaky.

What programmes like Benefits Street do is to turn this insecurity into a more focused hostility one that divides the deserving from the undeserving. They foster a hostility that demands retribution.

And they play us off against each other. The more we absorb from TV, the more we resemble The Hunger Games.

Those who have not read The Hunger Games will have to forgive me a little.

George Osborne does not have the guile of President Snow, David Cameron cannot play the audience like Caesar Flickermann and Ed Miliband is not about to metamorphose into Katniss Everdeen. Still, there are uncomfortable parallels we should reflect on.

The Hunger Games is about a dystopian future in which downtrodden districts have to send two of their own children each year to compete in games that require them to kill each other.

The Games are designed to divide and denigrate the poor while entertaining a Capitol steadily sinking under its accumulated wealth, self-indulgence and brutality. It is a remove from today, but not a great one.

Pope Francis has already begun pissing off wealthy donors in our own “Capitol,” pointing out that the growing distance between the lives of the super-rich and the poor threatens the very stability of the planet.

Yet most governments, including our own, have taken the side of the Capitol shifting the political focus onto internal districts that must fight it out between themselves. In The Hunger Games, only the Capitol remains unscathed.

There are no victors in Benefits Street, but it plays the same game a spectacle in which television tracks blighted lives to deliver the inexorable, inevitable character “assassinations” the Games demand.

We have become accustomed to salaries of the super-rich that rise faster in one year than the rest of the economy does in a decade; to annual bonuses that are higher than some earn in a lifetime.

In the midst of a crisis the untouchable lives of the rich have become the new “given.”

What fascinates me is what this says about us the viewers, the audience, the voyeurs in this ritual denigration of the poor.

In The Hunger Games all the districts are forced to watch as children are chosen to compete in each year’s Games and then to watch as they fight each other for survival.

But no-one claps and no-one blames the kids. They know who the enemy is.

Britain loses £1.2bn a year in benefits fraud, but 20 times this amount £25bn per year goes in tax fraud.

There are always demands that benefits cheats be prosecuted and imprisoned. Yet the banking community goes largely unprosecuted for the financial crash it engineered.

The government will not cap bonuses  even in companies making losses  but it enthusiastically caps benefits.

A new welfare state is emerging in which corporate handouts are generous, unconditional and unaccountable, while personal welfare becomes conditional and judgmental.

The bedroom tax punishes households, without any benefit to society. It creates homelessness, hardship and costs taxpayers more. Its role is to shift attention from the under-supply of decent housing to the under-occupancy of decent properties.

That over 90 per cent of all the extra spending on housing benefits goes straight into the pockets of private landlords barely receives a mention.

Another welfare state is also being created for new nuclear power.

This will guarantee and index link  its benefit entitlements for 35 years, loan the money for its spiralling construction costs and cover most of its liabilities.

Pensioners would love to be offered the same deal.

Personal taxation may be mandatory but tax loopholes have made corporation tax increasingly “optional.”

Energy companies happily receive an annual £15bn in public subsidies, but they whinge about the “ affordability” of directing it back towards reducing our heating needs rather than increasing energy consumption and bills.

None of this offers a eulogy to the lives of any of those “starring” in Benefits Street. The point I am making is that their lives are not the roots of the crisis we face.

All dystopian fiction has to be taken with its own pinch of salt. The Hunger Games is no exception.

In the way of most US novels, it is obsessively preoccupied with the individual. Katniss Everdeen may turn out to have amazing survival instincts, but she never had a plan or an “agenda.”

In fact, she becomes incredibly hacked off to discover that others had a plan all along. Her intention was never to overthrow the system.

It was just to protect herself and, if possible, those close to her.

It was others who portrayed her as the Mockingjay — a bird that came to symbolise a refusal to be crushed, divided or denigrated.

And it fell to others to remind her to “just remember who the real enemy is.”

So it is with Benefits Street. The character assassination of everyone living on the street would not make any of us one penny richer, one penny safer or one penny closer to a better society.

To do that, we need our own “agenda”  one that goes well beyond the Benefits Street. That agenda doesn’t require heroes, Hollywood or otherwise. It requires solidarity.

Perhaps the lesson to be drawn from The Hunger Games lies in the moment that marked the beginning of the end for the Capitol.

It was when, in the televised presentation of contestants or “tributes” before the final Games begin, the tributes all held hands in defiance of the Capitol.

It was a momentary statement that they were not the enemy.

It didn’t last. Not all continued to do so. But those who did became the bringers of change.

It has been ever thus. In the face of today’s tyrannies, we should not underestimate the power of holding hands.

This brings me to the next subject of being tough on Welfare Reform in which some cases the coalition government wants to try to pull the rug under Labour record on Welfare Reform. I would urge all politicians to exercise caution and remember for those who had the opportunity to gain employment at the age of 16 years old those days have gone.

For my sins in a good way I started to work at the age of 16 years old at my family business in 1980 an opportunity for me to study other skills which venture on to other things in life which I had my relatives to thank for.

Looking back then I’m sure some will recall the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) being introduced by Thatcher Government some will argue that it worked and no doubt some will say it did not work. Returning to the present time 2000s there is no jobs for 16-24 year olds unless they are very fortunate enough that their parents own a small business otherwise its a case of dog eat dog as there is not enough apprentice jobs out there.

God help you if you become unemployed and one had to depend on Foodbank which you are allowed three vouchers a year. Then you get slapped out by a former Member of Parliament will quotes like they spend their benefits on dog food and tattoos.

I know of many people in my area and outside the area have no choice to join the dreaded queues Foodbanks and I’m sure many people would love to have the life of this particular ex Member of Parliament.

Yet some people on the ultra-left and far right groups still cannot see no further than there nose at times that’s because they have not moved on from their bubble it’s like a circle which keeps repeating itself. Yet some of those people are from a middle class background that plays on their so-called working class credentials.

The poorest families, despite many trying very hard, cannot get jobs, yet are held responsible for their own plight by the Tories, and their hate mantras and “striver and scrounger” rhetoric are amplified in the Mail, Sun and elsewhere. But there are only 562,000 job vacancies today, and some 2,450,000 persons trying to fill them. Well, that’s 2,450, 000 that we know of that are recorded as being in receipt of benefit, there are MANY more currently off the radar because they have been sanctioned, or are waiting for the outcome of an appeal.

The problem is not them, but an economic ‘policy’ that deliberately keeps nearly 2.5 million on the dole because the aim is not cutting the deficit but shrinking the State and the public sector, whilst providing a huge reserve army of labour for private companies. And the stark reduction of benefits by the greedy and callous have driven down people’s expectations , allowing employers to pay meagre wages, and offer poor conditions, ensuring that the private sector profits from people’s desperation. How the Tories lied. The vast majority of the benefit cuts have hit those in low paid work. There are now more children in poverty living in households where at least one person is working than there are in households where people are unemployed (well, unless they have been sanctioned) or retired households.

The big con of the day is “making work pay”. It does, but only if you are the big boss of some private business. Your work pays for their profits, you don’t work anymore to make ends meet, and you work to serve the Tories and their donor buddies.

“Our reforms will not only stop this from happening but will provide the financial services industry with the certainty it needs to develop products that can help people plan for the future. I welcome this commitment from the industry and am excited to see how this new market could transform the way we pay for our care.” So, a stitch up for us yet again, because “planning for the future” = PAYING FOR EVERYTHING, and so making big bucks for tory donors and sponsors.

So why is not surprising that when some reality shows on channel 4 gets a bad reputation and the thinking behind the #benefitsstreet is nothing more to help out the ultra-right wing  and other organisations to spread their message that if you are on any forms of benefits that you are “striver and scrounger”  they seem to forget that low paid are on some form of benefits are we really going to see an apology coming from the producers of benefit street given that there is around 58,000 signatures to a petition to stop the programme I think not as the more that people sign the petition the more airtime it gets.

it really does not help when Employment minister Esther McVey has been accused of peddling “fact-free nonsense” after urging young people to apply for entry-level jobs like with the Costa Coffee chain, despite a recent shop receiving 1,700 applications for just eight vacancies.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said young people should be “realistic” about their abilities, adding: “You could be working at Costa. But in a couple of years’ time you might say, “I’d like to manage the area” or might even want to run a hotel in Dubai.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, told the Huffington Post UK: “I’m sure young people would love to work at Costa – but last year more than 1,700 people applied for eight jobs at a new Costa Coffee shop in Nottingham.

“Many young people are already working hard to get ahead in the labour market and employers have a responsibility to hire them and train them properly. But the government also needs to act, instead of pretending that our youth jobs crisis is over we need a real job guarantee for young people to give them the best possible chance of moving into paid work as the recovery progresses.”

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union said: “Was Esther McVey promoted to her ministerial position because of her keen grasp of detail, or because she’s willing to trot out the same fact-free nonsense that her boss Iain Duncan Smith has made into an art form?”

Green party leader Natalie Bennett hit out at McVey’s comments, telling HuffPostUK: “Young people are already applying for these jobs, often well below their levels of qualification, in the hope of using them to get on the jobs ladder. But when we see situations where for example 1,700 people applied for eight jobs at a Costa branch, the result can be little more than a lottery, with odds little better than the lottery.”

The furore over McVey’s comments come as the Office for National Statistics revealed that the number of people employed rose to 30.15 million, up by 450,000 from a year earlier. The unemployment rate has also fallen from 7.4% to 7.1%, in surprisingly positive economic news that will pile pressure on Bank of England governor Mark Carney to start raise interest rates sooner.

A Costa spokesperson said: “Costa is proud to be a British company creating much-needed jobs for all age groups throughout the UK and nearly 60% of our team members are aged 16-24. Based on our planned opening programme for 2014, we anticipate creating a further 1,500 jobs this year hopefully starting many careers.

“Costa provides all its employees with regular opportunities to develop and grow their career through our own training programmes, with over 65% of our team members on our internal development programmes being promoted into more senior roles. A great example of this is our own Master of Coffee, Gennarro Pellicia, who is now responsible for the quality of all Costa coffee, who started as a barista in the 1990s.”

Spencer Thompson, economic analyst at IPPR, told HuffPostUK: “Entry level jobs in the service industry, such as working at a coffee shop, provide valuable experience of work for young people. Getting experience of work before leaving education can make young people much more appealing to employers but the number of young people with a part-time job has dropped significantly in recent decades.

“Youth unemployment began to rise from the early 2000s, when the economy was growing strongly. This suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with Britain’s youth jobs market that cannot be fixed by simply urging young people to take unskilled jobs that don’t utilise their qualifications or training.”

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith sparked similar anger to McVey in 2010 when he told unemployed people to “get on the bus”.

Duncan Smith cited Merthyr Tydfil in Wales as a place where people had become “static” and “didn’t know if they got on the bus an hour’s journey they’d be in Cardiff and they could look for the job there”.


Rachel Reeves welfare speech in full

jpeg1I would like to add my two pennies worth in regards to Rachel Reeves full speech. There have been speculations of parts of her speech which does not add up from the press.

1) Just to clarify Rachel Reeves full speech does makes clear that there will be some people who are unable to work due to illness and disabilities such mental health, learning, physical disabilities, and dyslexia  which anybody can suffer with one or more of multi – disabilities there will be the right support in place to enable them to have the support they need in the community to help them back into further education and employment if they want that extra support.

2) Then there was a reference of people who lacks the basic education such as English and Maths which holds them back from applying for jobs. The speech makes it quite clear that they will be offered the support to return to further education to be offer the support that they required to help them to bring their skills up to date to enable them to apply for the jobs that they lack the skills.

3) In regards to the age group between the ages of 16-24 year olds apprenticeship will be offered and if they refuse to take it up they will have the options of returning to further education, apply for jobs or face cuts to their benefits there is nothing wrong with the statement. If I’m totally honest enough there is a choice between a coalition and a Labour welfare reforms I know that I would choose to have a Labour agenda instead as the rest of the political parties can’t offer anything better at the moment.

jpeg24) The more I look into the coalition welfare reform all I can see that both Home Secretary Theresa May and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail it would prevent exploitation of the UK welfare system.

They will also only be able to claim jobseeker’s cash for six months, unless they have a “genuine” chance of work.

photoA three-month ban on claims for out-of-work benefits is already in force.

This came after restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians working in the UK were eased at the beginning of the year.

Writing in the Mail, the cabinet ministers said: “No longer can people come here from abroad and expect to get something for nothing.”

They said immigration had made a “tremendously rich contribution to our country, both culturally and in terms of the talent it brings – but it must be controlled”.

“For those migrants who do come here, we’re ensuring they are unable to take unfair advantage of our system by accessing benefits as soon as they arrive,” they said.

But they said they would “go further” than the three-month ban on access to out-of-work benefits.

“From the beginning of April we will be removing entitlement to housing benefit altogether for this group,” they wrote.

“In addition, EU migrants can only claim jobseeker’s allowance for six months unless they have genuine prospects of finding work.”

They added: “These new immigration and benefit checks will clamp down on those trying to exploit the system.

“We can ensure that Britain’s growing economy and dynamic jobs market deliver for those who work hard and play by the rules.”

They also accused Labour of a “shameful betrayal” of British workers, and highlighted figures that suggested the number of Britons in jobs fell by 413,000 between 2005 and 2010, while the number of working foreigners increased by 736,000.

But they said measures taken by the government had “reversed the damaging trend” and of the rise in employment over the past year, more than 90% had gone to UK nationals.

jpeg3Of the housing benefit change, Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told ITV’s Daybreak: “This is something that we have agreed across the government.

“I think it is right to say to people who are coming here to look for work from elsewhere in the European Union, ‘You have a right to look for work but you don’t have a right to claim benefits, no questions asked, no strings attached, from day one.'”

David Cameron outlined plans to toughen welfare rules for EU migrants in November last year, saying he was sending a “clear message” to people that the UK was not a “soft touch” for claiming benefits.

Among the other measures announced were plans to deport those caught begging or sleeping rough, with no return within a year and quadrupling fines for employers not paying the minimum wage.

I am fully convinced that the coalition is pandering to the UKIP and BNP agenda  which may get them some votes for the short term but it does not help to solve the problems of the long term.

jpeg4I enclose Rachel Reeves welfare speech in full perusal:

I’d like to thank you all for coming, and thank IPPR for hosting us, and also for all the excellent work they do to inform and stimulate thinking and debate on the centre left.

Last week Ed Miliband spoke about the continuing squeeze on family finances, about the growing fears that many feel about the future, and about the need to build a stronger economy that can fulfill the “British promise” of rising living standards for the next generation.

Over recent days we’ve also heard my shadow cabinet colleagues, Emma Reynolds and Tristram Hunt, talk about how a Labour government will ensure we get the house building we need to strengthen our economy and improve people’s quality of life, and about how we raise standards in our schools to ensure our children are equipped to succeed.

And later this week Ed Balls will be saying more about how we ensure we have an economic recovery that benefits all working people, not just a privileged few at the top.

Today I’m going to talk about how the economic reform we need to earn our way out of the cost of living crisis, and social security reform to ensure the system is fair and affordable, go hand in hand.

Because it’s only by getting more people into work and creating better paid and more secure jobs, that we’ll tackle the drivers of rising benefits bills and ensure the system is sustainable for the long term.

And putting the right values at the heart of our system, so that it rewards work, responsibility and contribution, is a critical part of our plan to build that better economy for the future.

It is the Labour Party that is best placed to deliver this, because of our central belief in the value and dignity of work.

As Ed Miliband has reminded us, “the clue is in the name”. We are the party born of the self-respect and solidarity of working communities.

We are the party that has always stood for those men and women who go out to work to earn a living for themselves and their families.

And today our belief in the dignity of work is at the heart of our vision of a “One Nation” Britain – a country in which everybody plays their part, and everybody has a stake.

Now it’s important to say at the outset that there will always be people who cannot do paid work, because of illness or disability.

And it is part of our responsibility to them to make their rights a reality: rights to dignity and respect, to a decent standard of living, and to the resources and support that can empower them to contribute and participate equally and fully in society.

And of course we all have a life beyond our work – as well as being an MP and a Shadow Secretary of State – I am also a mother, a wife, a sister and a daughter, a friend…

But for most of us, the work that we do is integral to and intertwined with the other aspects of our identity – it shapes and is shaped by the other choices we make, and the course our lives take.

It runs like a thread through the story we tell about ourselves.

It was to find work in the shoe factories that my grandparents moved from South Wales to Kettering. My father went to college so he could train to be a teacher, and found a job in a school in South London, where he met my mother.

It was work that took me from South London to Yorkshire where I am now honoured to serve as Member of Parliament for Leeds West.

Work helps define us, and it is how we define ourselves.

That is why the right and responsibility to work, as well as the fight for fair pay and the improvement of working conditions: equal pay for women, the national minimum wage, and now the living wage, has always been so central to the Labour Party’s mission.

And it is why today it remains central to how we meet the deep-rooted aspiration to “earn and belong” that Jon Cruddas has put at the heart of our policy review.

So my argument is that this mission, and the moral values that underpin it, require Labour to lead the way on social security reform.


It’s now clear that the Tories cannot deliver this. They promised a new approach to poverty and welfare. And yet four years on, the record is clear: their reforms are running into the sand, hardship and deprivation are increasing, and the economic and fiscal costs of their failure are mounting.

Why is this?

Fundamentally, for all David Cameron’s rebranding, Iain Duncan Smith’s epiphanies and conversions, and George Osborne’s tough talk, the Tories just don’t get it.

They don’t know what it takes to overcome the barriers that many who are unemployed face.

They don’t know what’s like to work hard, but struggle to earn enough to make ends meet.

They can’t see that the spread of insecurity, and over-reliance on of low-paid, poor quality jobs is undermining our country’s ability to earn out way out of the cost of living crisis, and making it harder to get the costs of social security under control.

And when it comes to tough choices, they’ll always put the privileged few before the rest – protecting vested interests, and cutting taxes for those at the top – and letting the majority pay the price.

It’s because of this failure to get our economy working for working people that they’ve overshot their own plans for spending on social security and tax credits this parliament by a shocking £15 billion and are now set to fail to deliver on their central pledge balance the books by 2015.

This means the next government, whatever party wins the election, will have to make tough choices on spending, including spending on social security.

That’s why we have said we would have a cap on structural social security spending, so that government is alert to upward pressures on the benefits bill, and ensures problems are dealt with to keep the budget within limits.

But only a Labour government can deliver the reform we need to ensure our social security system is both fair and affordable.

Today I want to focus on how our belief in the value and dignity of work is at the heart of our plan for change:

– first, making sure all those who can and should be working, are working

– second, improving wages and working conditions, so that work always pays

– and third, rewarding work by ensuring that the contributions people make are properly recognised in the social security system.


Our first and most fundamental challenge is to ensure that everyone who can and should be working is in a job.

The headline unemployment figures are starting to move in the right direction. But this has taken far too long, and long term unemployment is still at levels not seen since the last time we had a Tory Government in control.

The Tories’ complacency about this crisis has already cost our country dearly. Last year, spending on Jobseeker’s Allowance alone was half a billion pounds higher than when this Government took office.

Over five years the government is spending 1.4 billion pounds more on Jobseeker’s Allowance than they originally budgeted for.

And we’ll be paying the price of this failure many years into the future – because the scarring effects of long term unemployment have a devastating effect on people’s employment prospects and earnings through the rest of their lives.

The Prince’s Trust recently highlighted the pessimism about the future, and increased risk of mental illness, among the young unemployed. While Professor Michael Marmot has described the current numbers of young people out work as “a public health timebomb waiting to explode”.

And this is not just an injustice for the individuals whose life chances have been stolen; it will cost us all in lost tax revenue, extra social security expenditure, and lost economic output and growth for decades to come.

And this is why the centrepiece and foundation stone of Labour’s economic plan is a compulsory jobs guarantee for young people and the long term unemployed.

This would mean that anyone over 25 who has been receiving JobSeeker’s Allowance for 2 years or more and anyone under 25 who has been receiving JobSeeker’s Allowance for 1 year or more would get a guaranteed job, paying at least the minimum wage for 25 hours a week and training of at least 10 hours a week.

Like the Welsh Assembly Government’s Jobs Growth Wales programme we expect most of the jobs to be in small firms. And experience there is showing that once a company has invested six months in a new recruit the chances are they will want to keep them on after the subsidy has ended.

This investment in the compulsory jobs guarantee would be fully funded by repeating the tax on bankers bonuses, and a restriction on pension tax relief for those on the very highest incomes.

Nothing more clearly demonstrates the importance of Labour values in a time of tough choices than the priority we will give to dealing with the waste of youth and long term unemployment.

Taking action to prevent further long term costs to our economy and social security system as well as giving back a chance for a better life to hundreds of thousands of people who under this government have been written off.

The job guarantee will provide a backstop for our social security system, making it impossible for people who could and should be working to remain on benefits for years on end. It puts a strict limit on the amount of time that people can lose touch with the world of work, and so limit the scarring effects that can blight people’s long term employability and earnings potential.

But we also need to improve the support we give to those looking for work at every stage so that we can reduce the number of people who even reach this point.

That means a work programme that actually works. Under this government we’ve seen a billion pounds paid out to contractors on a scheme that has seen more people return to the Jobcentre than find a job. A Labour government will not be renewing those contracts in 2015-16.

In place of the top-down, bigger-is-better model imposed by this government, our replacement will be jointly commissioned by central and local government, so it can be better integrated with local economic strategies more closely connected to local businesses, and make better use of innovative charities and social enterprises.

You’ll be hearing more from me and the rest of Labour’s Work and Pensions team about this, and the better targeted support we need for key groups such as single parents and disabled people over the months to come.

But today I want to say more about how we tackle the skills gaps that are holding individuals and our economy back.

We all know that basic skills are essential in today’s jobs market.

But the shocking levels of English and maths among too many jobseekers are holding them back from getting work, and trapping them in a vicious cycle between low paid work and benefits.

Nearly one in ten people claiming JSA don’t have basic English skills, and over one in ten don’t have basic maths.

And IT skills among jobseekers are even worse; nearly half don’t have the basic email skills which are now essential for almost any job application.

And we know that this keeps people out of jobs: those out of work are twice as likely than those in work to lack basic English and Maths.

When people who lack these skills do get jobs, they too often find themselves in short term or temporary work, with a swift return to benefits. Research shows that nearly one in five of those who have made multiple claims for unemployment benefits have problems with reading or numeracy.

Schools have a critical role to play in ensuring that young people have the skills they need to succeed. That’s why Tristram Hunt’s emphasis on school standards, and Ed Miliband’s call for a renewed focus on the “forgotten fifty per cent”, including compulsory English and Maths up to the age of 18, is critical to ensuring our education system equips everyone to get a job.

But we also need to need to take action to ensure that those who are unemployed now have the skills they need to move into the long term jobs they want, and that the country needs them to take.

So today I am announcing another important plank of our plan to address this problem: a new requirement for jobseekers to take training if they do not meet basic standards of maths, English and IT – training they will be required to take up alongside their jobsearch, or lose their benefits.

We’ve long known that addressing skills gaps is vital to securing Britain’s future success as well as improving individuals’ life chances. That’s why the last Labour government put funding in place so that anyone who needs basic skills training could get it.

The Tories are now proposing that basic skills training should be mandatory for people who leave their failing work programme without finding a job. But that is three years after people first start claiming benefits. Nearly three years that could have been spent in work if the right requirements and support had been in place at the start of their benefits claim.

So will ensure that people’s skills needs are assessed, and basic skills gaps addressed, from the start of a Jobseeker’s Allowance Claim, not after months and years of neglect.

The difference is clear: the Tory-led government is leaving people on benefits for up to three years without ensuring they have the basic skills they need to get a job.

With the Basic Skills Test I am announcing today, a Labour government will make sure anyone claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance undertakes the training they need within weeks of signing on.

The Basic Skills Test will help us attack the root causes of worklessness and prevent more people falling into long term unemployment, or “low-pay-no-pay” cycles, that build up more costs to our social security system and undermine the strength of our economy.

As in so many areas, it is early, preventative intervention that is the best way of making savings over the long term.

And the Basic Skills Test I am announcing today follows the same principle of mutual obligation that is at the heart of Labour’s approach to social security reform:

the responsibility of government and employers to do what they can to improve the opportunities to those without work;

the responsibility of those in receipt of benefits, who can work, to do what they can to prepare for work, look for work, and accept all reasonable offers of work

So on basic skills, we say: – if you need extra training to help you get a job, then it’s our responsibility to make sure the training is there – but it is your responsibility to do the training you need to get off JobSeeker’s Allowance and into work. If you don’t, then there will be sanctions.

Of course, the vast majority of people on benefits want more than anything else to be in work and are doing all they can to get work.

But it’s right that we retain that principle of reciprocity as the lynchpin of a fair and sustainable system.


We in the Labour Party are the first to stress that a job is almost always better than no job. But we have to care also about the kind of jobs we are creating, and the kind of recovery we are building. We cannot afford to take an approach that says “any old job will do”. We have to be more ambitious for the future of our country.

And we shouldn’t allow welcome falls in headline unemployment figures to conceal deeper problems in our labour market. Problems that will undermine our ability to earn our way out of the cost of living crisis and ensure our social security system is affordable for the long term

People used to understand a basic bargain: get a job and you’ll be able to support your family. But today, the majority of people below the poverty line are in work.

And two thirds of the children growing up in poverty live in a household where someone works. Parents trying to do their best to support their kids, but struggling in a jobs market that seems stacked against them.

Now our social security system has a critical role to play in ensuring that work pays and helping those on the lowest earnings keep their heads above water.

Indeed, one of the most striking features of this government’s unfair approach to deficit reduction, for all their nasty, divisive rhetoric about “skivers”, has been its attacks on support for people in work – punishing people who are trying to do the right thing

But just as you can’t control the cost of unemployment if you’re just cutting benefits but not doing what’s needed to get people into work; you can’t control spending on in-work benefits and tax credits if you’re just cutting the level of support that working people are entitled to without doing anything to make sure they can earn enough to cover the rising cost of living.

That’s why, despite cuts that have seen in-work families more heavily targeted than out-of-work families total spending on in-work benefits is set to rise in real terms over the coming years – because the number of people who can’t earn enough to live on is going up faster than even this government is able to take away the support that people are entitled to.

The record number of workers paid less than the living wage, now more than 5 million, is costing an estimated £2.2bn a year in extra spending and lost revenue according to analysis published by the IPPR with the Resolution Foundation.

And there are also now record numbers people who want to be working full time but can only get a part-time job – 1.47 million people according to the latest statistics. Figures I commissioned from the House of Commons Library suggest that this could be costing us £4.7 billion pounds a year in lost tax and national insurance revenue, and extra benefits and tax credits including 1.8 billion pounds a year on Housing Benefit alone.

Despite the upturn in growth that is now finally forecast government figures published alongside last month’s Autumn Statement show: – spending on Housing Benefit for people in work set to rise by over £1bn over the next three years; – and downgraded projections for wage growth between 2015 and 2018 adding £500m to the tax credit bill.

And the increasing insecurity we see, with too many stuck in temporary jobs, and rising numbers of zero hours contracts, makes it harder for people to get a mortgage to buy their own home, or save for a pension, all of which adds to the pressure on our social security system.

The costs to the country of low pay, under-employment and insecurity go far beyond the annual social security bill. Because our economy’s over-reliance on a long tail of low wage, low productivity, insecure jobs is a massive weakness and missed opportunity.

It means we’re failing to develop and make full use of the talents and energies of our people and we’re failing to build the competitive businesses and sectors that we will need to pay our way in world in future.

The action on skills that I’ve already outlined would make an immediate difference to this problem, as well as tackling worklessness and reducing spending on unemployment benefit.

Because ensuring people have the skills they need to get a job and keep a job will also give them a better chance of earning a better wage and building a career.

And it adds to and reinforces the programme Labour are setting out to improve the availability of good quality jobs, offering security, progression and decent wages.

A Labour government will mean a strengthened minimum wage, toughening up enforcement, restoring its real value, and asking those sectors who can afford to pay more to do so.

A Labour government will mean more workers paid a living wage, (as many enlightened employers and, I’m proud to say, increasing numbers of Labour councils, are already doing) -offering temporary tax breaks to employers that commit to paying it, and requiring transparency of large companies, so employees, consumers and campaigners can hold them to account.

A Labour government will mean new rules to prevent the abuse of zero hours contracts, and the closure of legal loopholes that allow migrant workers to be exploited and used to undercut all workers’ wages and working conditions.

A Labour government will drive forward the economic and industrial policy that Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna have been developing to create more high quality jobs in every region of the country by reforming our banking sector, modernising our infrastructure, and working with businesses to get the long-term investment we need in growing SMEs and the high productivity, growth industries of the future.

So as well as raising living standards and expanding opportunities, this agenda is also critical to controlling the costs of our social security system – relieving and reducing our reliance on tax credits and housing benefits to make up for inadequate or irregular wages.


Finally, as well as getting people into work, and taking action to improve wages and working conditions, a social security system built on our belief in the dignity of work, must ensure that people are rewarded for the effort and contribution they make throughout their working lives.

The importance of recognising work and contribution and reinforcing the contributory principle in our social security system is why we must do what we can to ensure that those who come to live in Britain from other countries work and contribute to our social security system before taking out of it.

The overwhelming majority of those who come to Britain from the EU or beyond make a significant net contribution to our public finances and economy as well as enriching our society.

But it’s right that we protect the integrity of our social security system and reassure people that is not open to abuse – which is why I am glad that the government belatedly responded to Labour’s call to ensure that people could not arrive in Britain and start claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance from day one.

And it’s why we will look at any practical proposals they come up with to extend the period new migrants have to work and contribute before becoming entitled to full support and addressing the anomaly that allows child benefit to be paid out for children not living in this country.

But we also need to address more directly people’s worries about whether the economy and social security system is working for them.

Last week Ed Miliband spoke about the sense of insecurity, and gnawing anxiety about the future, that is felt today by increasing numbers of people, whatever their line of work, and risks sapping our confidence as a country.

As well as the failure of wages to keep up with prices that has seen the average worker lose £1,600 in annual income since the Tory-led government took office more workers are worried about losing their job than at any time since these records began.

And many of those who lost their jobs in the wake of the global financial crisis and the continuing restructuring we see in many sectors, are shocked when they discover how little help they were entitled to, despite the contributions they had made over the course of their working lives.

It’s worth bearing in mind when we talk about the unemployed today, on the latest figures, this includes 134,000 former managers, 107,000 professionals, and 172,000 who previously worked in skilled trades such as engineers, electricians or IT technicians.

But far too many of these people feel that the social security system offers little for them when they need it.

We are developing plans to improve the help that the system gives to older workers who lose their jobs.

And we also need to look at how we can better reflect records of contribution in the benefits people are entitled to.

Now of course there are those who move in and out of work and I’ve set out how we want to do more to get them into long-term jobs. But in recent years we’ve also seen more people rely on the system who’ve not claimed in years.

The IPPR have today announced that they will be looking at options and costings for increasing the initial rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance paid to those who have built up a sufficient record of contribution.

If this can be done in a cost neutral way by extending the period people need to be working and paying national insurance to qualify for contributory JSA it would be a very valuable step forward.

For example, a higher rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance paid for the first six weeks of unemployment to those who have lost their jobs after perhaps four or five years in work could be a big help in cushioning the immediate financial impact of redundancy and give them a better chance of getting back into work and back on their feet sooner.

And it would be a powerful way of restoring that understanding of collective insurance against unemployment that was such an important impulse behind Beveridge’s original plan but which today has been all but lost from sight.

So I welcome the IPPR’s plan to look at this area, and look forward to the conclusion of this work in the coming months.

Restoring a sense of “something for something” across the social security system, and over a working life must be part of a One Nation agenda for social security.


Let me bring what I’ve said to a conclusion.

Working families want a social security system that is fair and affordable: – one that meets genuine need and rewards responsibility, – while keeping costs under control over the long term.

It is the Labour Party, based on its belief on the dignity of work, that will deliver this

– by tackling unemployment, with measures like our compulsory jobs guarantee and the basic skills test I am announcing today;

– by making sure that work always pays, with measures to strengthen the minimum wage, promote the living wage, and support the creation of more high quality jobs;

– and by making sure that work is rewarded over the long term, by reinforcing and renewing the contributory principle in our social security system.

This is the right agenda for the times we face. It’s an agenda based on Labour values, and the values of the British people.


Full Text Of Ed Miliband Speech

Some people may have reservations with the full text of Ed Miliband’s speech on 17 Jan 2014 I say to my followers that I would rather have another term of a Labour Government than either a Coalition or a Conservative Government some anti Labour supporters would continue to play the blame game and don’t look no further than their eyes another than seeing what Labour fails to understand are those banks approaching a ‘market cap’ would be stripped of incentives to invest and improve services.

ed MilbandI like this approach Miliband takes going after all the vested interest is right. Banks caused the financial crash and the recession through their greed and stupidity. they have still never apologies properly and still take massive undeserved bonuses.

Break up the big banks and get back some decency, the banks do not help the economy as much as Cameron makes out, they help themselves.

A mainstay of political commentary this parliament has been the assertion that Labour lacks economic credibility, which has generally been taken to mean the party is perceived to have spent too much money when in government and isn’t yet trusted to take charge of the Exchequer again.

That is certainly the judgement that the Conservatives want to impress on the minds of voters. Tory election prospects rest heavily on the hope that Britain will ultimately recoil from the idea of returning to office the people who presided over the worst financial crisis in living memory and reject Ed Miliband as a potential national leader. David Cameron’s campaign message will, in essence, be: “See how far we’ve come. The economy is growing. Now look at that guy. Are you ready to risk it all on him?”

photo (2)At the root of Miliband’s speech on the economy today is the ambition not simply to rebut the charges that Tories would level against Labour but to change the terms on which economic credibility itself is judged. Opposition strategists know that Labour will struggle to win an arms race with the Conservatives on who is more committed to spending less. George Osborne has already made it clear this year that he intends to challenge Labour to a kind of austerity arm-wrestle – who can be more macho with their cuts – and Miliband is declining the invitation.

photoInstead he wants to cast the Tory approach as itself lacking credibility because it follows benchmarks of economic performance that don’t equate to long-term prosperity for the majority. Labour will now seek to characterise the Tory position as cutting for cutting’s sake, sitting back and waiting for growth to do the rest. It is Miliband’s profound conviction (as he has consistently argued over many months) that structural flaws in the way the British economy is organised mean that even a return to headline GDP growth will not effectively feel like a return to good times for most voters.

The “cost of living crisis” thus becomes not a temporary hit that people are taking as Britain emerges from recession but an historic challenge that needs to be met with a programme of systematic interventions. The Labour view is that the Tories are conceptually unable to meet that challenge because they wear ideological blinkers. As Douglas Alexander says in an interview in this week’s New Statesman: “The Conservatives are in hock to a bad philosophy, which is that in the 21st century, trickle-down is the route to modern prosperity.”

Labour’s strategic ambition for 2014 is to escalate the cost of living question, which dominated much of the political agenda towards the end of last year, from a debate about how best to ease pressure on family finances in the short term to a debate about which party truly understands where the squeeze is coming from and what therefore needs to be done in the long term to correct it. In his speech today, Miliband categorised that as a choice between “new economy and old economy”, with Osborne and Cameron peddling obsolete remedies that will keep Britain locked in a pattern of unfairness, lacklustre growth, crappy wages and perpetual insecurity.

photo (1)The judgement in Miliband’s campaign team is that the Tories think they have so definitively won the blame game over who is responsible for the nation’s economic malaise Gordon Brown and friends that they can pretty much re-fight the 2010 general election but with more confidence. (Plus a bunch of 1992 attack lines thrown in for good measure.) In response, Labour will say they are the party that has moved on, that is talking about the future with optimism and vision when their opponents are desperately pointing at the past to ramp up fear and division. The Tories will try to fight the election on Labour’s economic record. Labour want to build an argument that says the coalition’s record is so dismal and their prescriptions are so faulty precisely because the Tories (and their Liberal Democrat collaborators) haven’t learned the lessons of the build-up to the crisis.

In essence, Miliband announced yesterday 17 Jan 2014 that he has no intention of fighting a general election on economic terms dictated by the government. He nominally recognises fiscal responsibility as a passport to voters’ trust but he also thinks the Tories are deluding themselves if they think Britain will choose its next government based on who is better at inflicting austerity.

The question that then arises is whether the policies that the opposition has offered so far house-building; the energy price freeze; the new banking market shake-up; regional industrial policy look like the start of a convincing prescription for the kind of systemic post-crisis reform that Miliband insists is necessary. At least if the debate starts to focus on that challenge, in those terms, progress will have been made in changing the way the test of “economic credibility” is applied, moving on from Osborne’s fiscal dividing lines. That would be quite a result for the Labour leader.’

Food bank investigation by the Sunday Mirror-1519590In a rare moment of lucidity, I think Ed Miliband has a vision but unfortunately Labours biggest problem is bypassing the media this is a great way of getting the message out. We should put it to Labour “Taking it the streets by letting all our activist and supporters joining forces to take to the street stalls to help with spreading our message. I would like to thank my followers for this idea and will hopefully seeing at the next street stalls promoting Labour for the European and Local Elections in 2014 and for another set of elections in 2015 Local and General elections. may the forces be with you all and good luck.

I have taken the opportunity to remind people of Ed Milibands Speech see below:

“Under a Labour government, instead of you serving the banks, the banks will serve you.”

Today I want to tell you what the next election is about for Labour.

It is about those families who work all the hours that God sends and don’t feel they get anything back.

It is about the people who go to bed anxious about how they’re going to pay their bills.

It is about the parents who turn to each other each night and ask what life their sons and daughters are going to have in the future.

It is about those just starting out who can’t imagine they will ever afford a home of their own.

It is about the most vulnerable in our country who feel they are just being tossed aside.

And it is about all those who are doing OK but still feel Britain should be doing a lot better.

It is about who we are as a country.

And who we want to recover to be.

It is about all those who believe that we’re Britain and we should never settle for second best.

All those millions of people who believe, like I do, like you do: We’re Britain, we’re better than this.

But we can only do better if the conversation in politics catches up with our country.

For too long politicians acted as if when something wasn’t talked about in politics or wasn’t big on our television screens, somehow it wasn’t happening.

The banking crisis.

The problems in the eurozone.

Ups and downs on the stock market.

They are the daily stuff of politics.

But all the while something just as important, something even deeper, has been going on.

And we have been far too silent about it.

That is the cost-of-living crisis.

Some people in Westminster still ask me: is the cost-of-living crisis really such a big deal?

Isn’t it just a short-term problem?

This shows they just don’t understand.

The cost-of-living crisis is the single greatest challenge our country faces.

Not since the century before last have we seen such a sustained fall in living standards.

What is the cost-of-living crisis?

On my very first day as leader of the Labour Party, I talked about the squeezed middle.

I realise now that back then I didn’t grasp the full scale of the problem.

It only really came home to me later.

And since then we’ve had three more years of that squeeze.

It is why I focused on it in my Labour Party conference speech this year.

And today, I think about the fragments of the conversations I have had since then, about the problems people face.

“My wages are stuck but all the bills carry on going up.

I just can’t get the hours I need so everything is a struggle.

The weekly food shop.

Gas and electricity.

Petrol for the car.

I just can’t afford this government.

I don’t know how much I am going to earn from one week to the next.

Work sixty hours a week.

I have to do two jobs.

I don’t have time to see my kids.”

“Of course, life’s going to be hard,” people say, “but surely it doesn’t need to be this hard?”

“And what’s going to happen to my kids when they grow up?

Will they get a regular job?

What about when they want to start a family?”

“They tell me on the news the economy is fixed.

And the people at the top they certainly seem to be doing OK.

But why isn’t that happening for my family?”

It is used to be that this country worked for ordinary people.

It just doesn’t seem to any more.

You see, this cost-of-living crisis is about the pound in people’s pocket today.

But it is not just about that.

It reaches deeply into people’s lives.

Deeply into the way our country is run.

Deeply into who our country is run for.

And because the problems are deep, the solutions need to be too.

That is the task for the next Labour government.

What is going to happen?

At least, politicians are finally talking about the cost-of-living crisis.

But talking about it isn’t enough.

People need to know that we’re going to do anything about it.

This government think it is all going to be OK.

Because this year the forecasts say that average wages will finally overtake prices.

Let’s hope that happens.

But I really warn this government:

If they think a few months of better statistics will solve this crisis, they are just demonstrating again that they have absolutely no idea about the scale of the problem or the solutions required.

This cost-of-living crisis is about who gets the rewards, not just the averages: ordinary people or just those at the top?

It is about the nature of work and whether it is secure or insecure.

It is about the prospects for people’s kids and the quality of jobs.

It is about decent homes at affordable prices.

It is about a strong sense that this cost-of-living crisis has been coming for a long time.

And that there are some big things need to change if we’re going to sort it out.

This government says: “the job is not even half done.”

You might think that’s a good sign.

But when they say that, they are not talking about your living standards.

The work you do.

The prospects for your kids.

They are just talking about the deficit.

Of course, we need to reduce the deficit.

That’s why Labour won’t borrow more for day to day spending in 2015/16.

But deficit reduction alone can’t fix our economy.

Deficit reduction alone can’t make hard work pay.

Deficit reduction alone isn’t a vision for the country.

And why does their vision fall so short?

It is not an accident.

Because they think low wages, insecure work, the hope of a bit of wealth trickling down from the top, is the way Britain succeeds.

Their economic policy is not the solution to the cost-of-living crisis.

It’s part of the problem.

They believe in a race to the bottom.

Low wages, low skills.

Not the race to the top Britain needs to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

High skills and high wages.

The symptoms of their failure to make the long-term changes that Britain needs are there for all to see.

Personal debt for ordinary families rising again, as wages are squeezed and productivity remains low.

The largest deficit in traded goods since records began back in 1955, because there’s no proper industrial policy and no plan for growth in every region.

Investment 159th in the world because reforms haven’t been made so firms can take the long-term view.

Over-reliance on insecure, low paid jobs, not enough of the secure, high paying ones that used to keep our middle class strong.

Millions of people unable to afford to buy or rent a home, because the homes just aren’t being built.

Broken markets, from gas and electricity to transport, which are not being reformed.

And a banking system that still doesn’t serve Britain’s firms.

Higher personal debt.

Uneven growth.

Low investment.

Insecure jobs.

House prices out of reach.

Bills still too high.

Banks not serving the wealth-creators.

And David Cameron and George Osborne want congratulation.

This is not a recipe for building the new economy that can tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

It is a recipe for clinging on to the old economy.

I say: Britain can do better than this.

How we earn our way to a higher standard of living

Over the coming months, Labour will be setting out the long-term changes we need.

So we earn and grow our way to a higher standard of living.

A One Nation industrial policy serving every region of Britain.

An end to the fast buck with a new culture of long-termism, from our infrastructure to our takeover rules to the stock market.

An education policy to help provide skills, training and a career to all of our young people, not just the 50% who go to university.

A plan to build 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament, so we can tackle the housing crisis.

Taking on the vested interests in every broken market to get a fairer deal to help consumers.

And building a banking system that serves the real economy.

At our party conference in September, I talked about how we will reform Britain’s broken energy market.

As you may remember, the big energy firms didn’t like it.

But it is broken.

And only Labour will put it right.

Today, I want to talk about another broken market.

Britain’s banking system.

Because there can be no bigger test of whether we are serious about building a new economy and tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

Part of the reason as a country we rely too much on low paid, insecure work is that the small and medium sized firms that could create the good, high paying jobs of the future can’t get the finance they need.

Of course, financial services is an important industry in itself.

But for an industry that calls itself a “service”, it has been a poor servant of the real economy.

And it has been an incredibly poor servant.

Not just since 2010.

Or 2008.

But for decades in this country.

We need a reckoning with our banking system not for retribution but for reform.

Labour has already laid out important plans to change our banking system.

A Green Investment Bank, with proper powers to invest.

A new British Business Investment Bank, supported by a network of regional banks in every region of the country.

And we’ve said very clearly if the big banks can’t demonstrate real culture change by the time of the next election they will see their high street and casino arms broken up.

But to really change our banking system, we have to tackle a decades long problem in British banking: too much power concentrated in too few hands.

Britain has one of the most concentrated banking systems in the world.

Just 4 banks control 85% of small business lending.

Not lending to firms.

Poor customer service.

High charges.

The old economy.

The next Labour government will act.

On day one of the next Labour government, we will ask the Competition and Markets Authority to report within six months on how to create at least two new sizeable and competitive banks to challenge the existing high street banks.

I want to be clear about the difference this will mean:

This is not about whether we should have new banks.

The question this government is still asking.

But about how.

It is not about creating new banks that control some tiny proportion of the market.

But new banks that have a substantial proportion and can compete properly with existing banks.

And we are not asking whether existing banks might have to divest themselves of significant number of branches.

We are asking how we make that happen.

And we will go further too.

In America, by law, they have a test so that no bank can get too big and dominate the market.

We will follow the same principle for Britain.

And so under the next Labour government we will establish for the first time a threshold for the market share any one bank can have of personal accounts and small business lending.

Preventing mergers and acquisitions over this threshold.

After decades of banking becoming more and more concentrated, Labour will turn the tide.

I want to send a message to our small and medium sized businesses: Under a Labour government, you will no longer be serving the banks.

The banks will be serving you.

You will have a better chance of getting the support you need to grow your business, employ more people, at decent wages, making profits and helping Britain succeed.

Only if we take on powerful vested interests, from energy to banking, and reform broken markets, can we make the long-term changes Britain needs.

And tackle the cost-of-living crisis.


All of us face a choice about how we want to fight the next election.

Optimistic about Britain and its future.

Or pessimistic.

Giving people a sense of hope.

Or trying to win by fear.

In the next 16 months, I want you to tell people:

About our belief that Britain can do better than this.

About how we believe we can tip the balance away from struggle and towards hope.

And tell them exactly what we will do to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

An energy price freeze.

Strengthening the minimum wage.

Tackling the payday lenders.

Better childcare.

Abolishing the bedroom tax.

Alongside the long-term changes our country needs:

New banks on our high street.

Skills for all our young people.

A new culture for long-termism.

An industrial policy for every region.

Building homes again in Britain.

I say Britain can do better than this.

To build the new economy.

And leave the old economy behind.

To tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

That’s what the next Labour government will do

Observations on coalition leaders vs Ed Miliband

How many people really had the opportunity to read the article that Ed Miliband wrote and understood and digested the contents.

I’m sure that the coalition will continue to play the blame game and as usual dismiss it without comprehending the current situation of cost of living standards for both lower, low and middle incomes which has a knock on effect on how or where they send their children to be educated and open doors to where they get their first job as to many of us can concur that this coalition are very much out of touch with the voters.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Miliband said the economic essentials that once drove and sustained the middle classes had all been undermined.

Their children’s prospects must also be urgently addressed, Mr Miliband added. The article comes as the monthly ICM opinion poll for The Guardian suggests Labour’s lead has been cut to 3% – in the same series of polls it was 5% in December and 8% in November.

Miliband, characterised by his opponents as an old-style left-winger, wrote that Labour would “rebuild our middle class”.

The Labour leader said the country could not succeed unless that middle class was strong and vibrant.

He said his long-standing message about a cost-of-living crisis did not just apply to those on zero-hour contracts and the minimum wage, but also to millions of families who never dreamed that life would be a struggle.

Among their concerns, he highlighted access to further education, good-quality jobs and secure pensions.

He said: “Our country cannot succeed and become collectively better off unless Britain has a strong and vibrant middle class.

“Indeed, the greatest challenge for our generation is how to tackle a crisis in living standards that has now become a crisis of confidence for middle-class families.”

Miliband said that as well as falling real wages and rising costs for items including food, childcare, energy and transport, the middle class was facing a more fundamental threat.

“The motors that once drove and sustained it are no longer firing as they used to,” he said.

“Access to further education and training, good quality jobs with reliable incomes, affordable housing, stable savings, secure pensions: they have all been undermined.”

There is little detail in the piece about how these problems might be corrected, although more announcements are promised in the coming days.

Miliband is due to give a major speech on the economy later this week.

Labour vice-chairman Michael Dugher told the BBC his party was talking about “the millions of hard-pressed families who are feeling the pinch” – people who felt insecure in their jobs, concerned about their income in retirement and worried about their children’s future, particularly their chances of being able to own their own home.

“They may be cracking open the champagne at the Treasury and saying ‘job done’,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.

“But they have no idea of the hardship facing families on low and middle incomes.”

It is further alleged that  Labour will use a speech to refer the high street banks to the competition authorities immediately if it is elected in 2015, Ed Miliband is expected to say in a centrepiece on banking reform .

The party leader wants the proposed review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to complete within a year of the election, and anticipates it could lead to a breakup of the larger high street banks, such as RBS or Lloyds.

He is expected to argue that greater competition in financial services is central to restoring Britain’s long-term economic prosperity and providing consumer choice. The intention would be to give greater choice for consumers and to address obstacles preventing new players from breaking into the market.

One proposal is a cap on market share on the largest banks, but the party would not indicate whether it had a specific cap in mind. Labour officials would only say that a market share cap of 25% – as had been suggested in a leak on Tuesday night – was wide of the mark.

Miliband speech aims to show that he can develop his successful, but arguably fully mined, living standards agenda into policies that offer a wider route map to greater economic prosperity. He also hopes to exorcise Labour’s reputation for having left the City of London insufficiently regulated during its time in office.

But the party leader suffered an immediate political set back when Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said he was opposed to crude caps on the size of market share for banks.

Giving evidence to the Treasury select committee, a sceptical-sounding Carney told MPs: “Just breaking up an institution doesn’t necessarily create a viable or more intensive competitive structure.”

In an attempt to set the scene for his economic speech, Miliband tried in parliament to wrongfoot David Cameron by demanding that the prime minister prevent state-owned RBS to award bonuses to bankers worth up to twice their annual salaries.

The European Union has said that if a bank wants to award a bonus to double a banker’s basic salary it should be subject to a shareholder vote, although the proposal is being challenged by the Treasury on the grounds that it creates perverse incentives by removing the link to performance.

Cameron tried to sidestep the issue of the future size of RBS bankers’ bonuses by saying there would be no increase in the overall RBS bonus pool this year. He said that Miliband had “all the moral authority” of the Rev Paul Flowers, the disgraced Co-op banking chief, given the last government’s record on banking regulation. Downing Street said the total package of pay and bonuses at RBS had halved under the coalition government, from £3bn in 2009 to £1.4 bn in 2012.

Labour retaliated by saying this was a red herring. Chris Leslie, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “The house needs to know that RBS has been reducing the number of bankers on their roll by about 2,000 bankers in the last year. You’d expect their total pay bill to actually start to fall. So it should.”

Carney also challenged the Labour proposal on bonuses by telling MPs that he agreed with the assertion of the parliamentary commission on banking standards that the EU bonus cap was a crude way to try to control pay – although by contrast the business secretary, Vince Cable, urged RBS to show restraint.

However, Labour is convinced that it can make a strong intellectual case that the growing integration of UK banking is damaging to industry, and consumers, so justifying a reference to the Competition and Markets Authority. The party also hopes market reforms can prompt a greater emphasis on German-style regional banking in which longer-term commitment to industry is made.

A general reference to the CMA was nearly adopted by the cross-party banking commission chaired by the Tory Andrew Tyrie – but the idea has been rejected in the Commons by the government.

However, last July the Office of Fair Trading announced a market study on competition in banking for small and medium-sized businesses and said this review would help the CMA decide whether to hold a full inquiry.

The Labour leader is expected to draw heavily on the criticisms of the banking industry set out by the Tyrie commission, and argue that the recent Banking Reform Act failed to stop banks operating as untouchable vested interests.

Labour has said it wants an obligation on banks to provide a basic bank account for all customers, a review of seven-day current account switching, and a fiduciary duty of care, explicitly putting the best interests of customers first and foremost in the financial services sector.

The government argues that it has already handed competition powers to the Financial Conduct Authority and new players are entering the market. The coalition claims regulators are already in talks with 22 new retail banking operators – and only in September introduced measures aimed at introducing seven-day bank switching.

It also claims customer surveys show the “big five” high street banks – Lloyds, RBS, HSBC, Santander and Barclays – consistently gave less satisfaction than others. But despite that, the party notes, those banks’ market share has increased over the last few years. The big five control 85% of the current account market as opposed to 71% before the financial crisis – and 67% of mortgage gross lending compared with 38% before the crisis.

In a nutshell this is how I view things at present from this so called coalition our social security system has been transformed by the Tories into perverse system of social control. Government officials spy on people receiving welfare to make sure they are not ‘wasting’ their OWN money. The welfare state was built to provide security but degenerated into a punitive system based on distrust and shame. The Tory Workfare programs and the sanction regime have turned social security into a pitfall, instead of a safety net.

Poverty is fundamentally about not having enough money to meet your needs.. WE have a government that is taking money from those who have the least and handing it out to those that have the most.

So, it’s not about being lazy, feckless, or stupidity. It’s because of government policy that is about redistributing wealth, damaging the economy and destroying jobs, the Tories always create high unemployment, and then blame the jobless victims. The government have cut our social security and public service support to the bone with catastrophic consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable. And they know what they are doing, that it is detrimental to our citizens and are preparing for a backlash, hence the discussion about water cannons and the attempts at a Gagging Bill.

Benefits don’t make people lazy, which are a conveniently manufactured Tory myth, to justify their eagerness to destroy the provision that we have paid for ourselves.

The Tories know that you can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots. Despite what they tell us. and peddle in the media. But they don’t care, and will carry on stripping our support, and handing the money out to the wealthy, creating absolute poverty on the one hand, and obscene wealth for a few on the other. That’s why they are talking about water canons.

David Cameron performance in Parliament over bonuses for RBS eposes the Conservatives and LibDems as hand in glove with the banking elite. His statement of intent to continue the existing £2,000 cap on cash awards is meaningless since bonuses paid in RBS shares are simply deferred cash rewards.

Equality meaningless his commitment to veto any proposed increase in the overall pay and bonus bill at RBS since the workforce has shrunk by 40,000 including 2,000 investment bankers since the finance sector’s self-inflicted crisis began in 2008.

The real shame if this reduction in posts is that the price of excess and recklessness has been paid by staff with no responsibilities for creating the private sector banking collapse.

How strange that the Tories conveniently forgot to mention that they are known historically known for hiking up our basic survival costs. They do it every time they are in Office, and people struggle meeting their basic needs every time. The Tories inflict misery poverty on the population, it’s about time people recognised this and stopped voting for them. We have defeated them before – we need to be united and organised.

Yet Grant Schapps has the gull to be talking the usual Tory line on BBC Question Time he claims, as do all of the Tories, that ‘work pays,’ but not by increasing wages, rather, by taking lifeline benefits from the poorest.

How does that stand up to scrutiny? The consequences of this arse upwards, spiteful thinking are now very evident we have an enormous number of working poor, too. And people having their benefits stopped are dying in their thousands. It doesn’t even make sense, the stupid incoherent arsehole. I would love to see that directly challenged.

Right then Osborne seeing as you now agree with Labour you can go further and call for a living wage can’t you! Oh a rising it to £7 an hour in stages will have next to no impact on the people struggling through the cost of living.

This gimmick of course is just that as you will do nothing to address energy bills and you will do nothing to tackle while wages are behind inflation. So despite you thinking you have done some marvellous outflanking you have done next to nought.

Labour has been saying the minimum wage should rise above inflation, your rise just makes it to inflation not above it. So yet again smoke and mirrors from a man of spin.

Nice try Osborne but it will not win you the election.

Here is another example why we all can’t trust both the Conservatives and LibDems David Cameron’s is a government of naked class interest. Its leading party is the political wing of the City of London. For all its Liberal Democrat fig leaves, it is waging war on the poor while slashing taxes for banks, corporate giants and the richest people in Britain. Its cuts have hit the most deprived, the disabled and women hardest.

In crucial ways the scale of its attacks on social security, service privatisation and falling living standards for the majority – Cameron’s coalition has outdone even Margaret Thatcher. Its austerity programme halted recovery for four years and has cut most people’s real terms pay deeper and over a longer period than at any time since the 19th century. Wealth is being energetically redistributed up the income scale.

This is the government of foodbanks, payday loans and the bedroom tax. None of that is, of course, very popular. So to divert anger from the top to the bottom from those who caused the economic crisis to its most deprived victims – Tory politicians and their allies have turned their fire on migrants and benefit claimants.

If they can convince enough people that the crash of 2008 and the stagnation since 2010 has been the result of too much welfare spending, rather than financial speculation and recovery-choking austerity, they’re in with a shout at the next election. In this task, they have the advantage of a mostly pliable media running a daily campaign against “welfare” and immigration.

Latest up has been Channel 4’s Benefits Street series about a deprived area of Birmingham, which kicked off with a Little Britain-style portrayal of unemployed claimants as criminals, scroungers and addicts. It’s only one of a string of such shows whose themes are the meat and drink of Tory tabloids.

The reality of the social security system George Osborne is now aiming to cut by a further £12bn is very different. Most goes on pensions, and far more is spent subsidising in-work poverty wages and insecure jobs than the unemployed. But the distorting mirror of the press and current political debate means that, on average, people think 41% of the welfare budget goes to the unemployed, when the real figure is 3% – and that 27% is claimed fraudulently, when the government’s own figure is 0.7%. That’s about £1bn, compared to an estimated £70bn of tax evasion.

Which gives a clue as to which class interest the government is most concerned to protect. To listen to politicians and the media, you’d think the only class left standing was the middle class. By definition, there must be something above and below this mysteriously undefined class, but almost nobody in public life wants to mention what it might be.

Across the world, corporate elites routinely hail the growth of a middle class as the elixir of development and civilisation. In the US, it has long been the only mentionable class in political life. Britain is going the same way. But contrary to the media mythology of “we’re all middle class now”, most people continue to regard themselves as working class – 60% in the most recent British Social Attitudes Survey.

Those words, however, almost never pass the lips of mainstream politicians. They’ll use all sorts of euphemisms, such as “hard-working people” (or “working people”, if a Labour politician is being especially daring) – the implication being that everyone else is somehow part of a feckless underclass. Only Ukip’s Nigel Farage, now fishing for disaffected Labour voters, uses the term regularly. For the rest, it’s as if to conjure up the reality of working-class Britain – including its traditional association with unions, solidarity and demands – might be too alarming for other sections of the population.

Ed Miliband has this week promised readers of the Conservative Daily Telegraph that Labour would “rebuild our middle class”, threatened by the living-standards crisis afflicting the majority in Britain. The rebuilding of the working class wasn’t mentioned, only “people on tax credits, zero-hours contracts and the minimum wage” – in other words, poorer sections of the working class.

Whether the Labour leader meant his “squeezed middle”, those on middle incomes (about £22,000 a year), deskilled professionals or the more affluent being displaced by the super-rich, he’s right that a winning electoral coalition for Labour has always been based on an alliance of working class and middle-class support. But to treat working-class voters as the captive “poor” would only risk increasing political alienation and the toxic appeal of the populist right.

The same goes for the other side of the class coin. If the middle class is being squeezed, it’s certainly not by manual or white-collar workers. But just as the working class has been airbrushed out of public debate, the ruling class responsible for the crisis still gripping Britain and most of the western world is also hardly mentioned in polite company – though it sometimes gets a walk-on part as the “elite”, or the “establishment”.

The crudeness of the class egotism and greed that has driven much of western politics in recent years means that can’t last. In fact, class politics has been resurfacing in different forms since the crash – from the Occupy movement’s targeting of the 1% to the rise of the left in Greeceand the election of the progressive Democrat Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York.

In Britain, the social costs being exacted on behalf of a failed elite means class is “the real dividing line in British politics“, as one Telegraph commentator puts it. Cameron and Osborne now insist they want to make small-state austerity permanent, and are threatening another £25bn of cuts as they demand welfare states be slashed across Europe. They’re hoping the current increase in credit and consumption will boost real wages before the election and soften the sense of a recovery for the rich – though there’s little sign of that as yet.

They’re also trying to push those Labour frontbenchers who want to “shrink the offer” to the electorate to embrace more cuts and austerity. That would be self-harm. Whenever Miliband has challenged corporate and elite interests, from the energy monopolies to Rupert Murdoch, his support has grown.

The government and their friends in the media want to turn people’s anger at poverty and insecurity against their neighbours. The alternative is to turn it against the bonus-grabbing bankers, tax-dodgers, rapacious landlords and employers who are actually responsible.

It is said in some quarters which I’m incline to believe that George Osborne may have stolen his thunder somewhat with a tactically timed non-pledge to possibly, maybe increase the Minimum Wage, but Ed Miliband still has a big speech to give today – and as suggested by leaks earlier this week, it’s on banking. The Labour leader will pledge that “under a Labour government, you will no longer be serving the banks. Instead, the banks will be serving you” – a noticeable ratcheting up of rhetoric against the big banks – indicating that they are to become Miliband’s latest “big bad” after all.

Ed Miliband wants to break up the banks, cutting them down to size, bring new competitors into the market to increase choice and value for consumers – and make loans easier to come by for small businesses. So far so good.

What we won’t see from Miliband though are any short-termist eye-catching gimmicks. This is a speech about the long term – a “state of the economy” speech – that predominantly serves as an indicator of Labour’s direction rather than offering pledges to the electorate. Whilst that might seem like a victory for those calling for Miliband to offer “transformational” changes rather than tinkering “transactional” promises, Miliband’s team have been clear that their intention is to offer both. Quite right, although the lack of a “transactional” offer to the electorate in this speech means it lacks a clear headline that can used on the doorstep this weekend. There’s no “energy price freeze” here, the changes proposed are real, functional, structural and significant.

This is a serious speech, short on short-term promises and long on long-term economic reforms.

The proposal which the Guardian got a scoop on days in advance, and Newsnight got close to on Tuesday evening – is that Labour will seek to increase competition in the banking sector, breaking up high street chains and introducing two new “challenger banks”, both of which will have a significant market share. (Miliband won’t say what the “cap” should be on bank size though – he’ll leave that to the Competition and Markets Authority). This is all very worthy and tees up Labour for a wide range of future interventions on the size and shape of the UK economy – but there’s no “retail offer” for voters here.

That probably means it’ll be overlooked by the media and ignored by the public – even though the changes being proposed are pretty radical.

This speech seeks to make the big economic argument that will set up the election framing the party wants to adopt. Labour wants to make big changes to the economy, more competition, less market dominance, better wages and a less exploitative banking sector – that’s their “long term economic plan”. Meanwhile, the Labour leadership argue, the much-trumpteted Tory economic plan isn’t a plan for the economy at all, it’s a plan for the deficit.

You can expect Miliband to make much of the difference between the Westminster economic dialogue – focussed on figures and graphs – and the rest of the country, which is focussed on debt, wages and costs. It’s intended as a riposte to the Tory argument that the economy has recovered and prosperity is returning – but it could also serve as a rebuke to a press who are too in thrall to ONS charts, and too distant from the reality of keeping the lights on in Crewe, Altrincham or Glasgow.

Miliband will also seek to pull together many of the arguments he’s been making over the past few years – predistribution, Living Wage, predators and producers – to make a bigger argument. Whilst the Tories think the crisis was about the size of the state, Labour thinks the crisis is about how the economy works.

As they plan to reshape the British economy, Miliband and his team have taken inspiration from an usual source the “American Progressives” at the turn of the last century. They sought to hit back at uncompetitive markets that “hurt the little guy”, now Miliband is seeking to show that a British centre-left party can do what an American centre-right party once did so successfully. Just don’t call him Teddy Miliband (or Eddy Roosevelt).

What concerns many of us though about this speech is how the debate kicks on afterwards. This is a “big speech”, but it also feels another exercise in intellectual heavy lifting of the kind Labour has been doing for a while now. Long-termism is good, but if you’re talking about a cost-of-living crisis people also want to know what will put pounds in their pockets. Breaking up the banks is important – but it needs to be followed by the kind of tangible changes that people feel will make them better off. The smart thing about the energy price freeze was that it was a short term “transactional” offer (keeping energy bills down for two years) backed up by a long-term “transformational” change (smashing up the energy market and ensuring genuine competition). This announcement is long-termist, smart, and good for consumers. The only question Miliband has yet to answer though, is how will this make us all better off in the short-term?




what have witnessed in the early part of 2014

Here is something of interest to all see below:

photoWhat a week we all have seen from the media ranging from Benefit Street to a cock up from the benefit system where we’ve learn that the bedroom tax and universal credit is not fit for purpose. Firstly we all have read that the software for dealing with our benefits that pays many people from a range of benefits cannot cope coupled by another one viz bedroom tax there some people may or may-not be entitled to a refund I’m sure many people will start to see the £ sign in their eyes right now.

Is it as simple as that er no way do I hear some people say? In truth I’m inclined to believe that this coalition will try not to pay out they would rather be taken to court before they give back the over payment to us commoners who has to pick up the crumbs of the table to make ends meet.

photo (1)In a nutshell I will be very surprised if they will say here is a cheque for ex amount that is owed to you instead they would rather play god to decide who is more deserving or say we will check to see if any of the people who is owed money from the over-payment has committed any benefit fraud which comes to mind I do hope I’m wrong.

Let’s see if the DWP will work in partnership with the multi agencies (social and private housing) to return the payment to the tenants who had to pay the bedroom tax if they are entitled to it.

photo (2)Now we all have learnt from the BBC that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the Sunday Times the UK, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland wanted to change EU law.

A three-month ban on EU migrants claiming UK out-of-work benefits came into force earlier this month.

But a senior EU official said migrants pay in more than they take out.

European commissioner Laszlo Andor told the BBC the UK risked “losing friends” and developing a bad image because of the way the debate on immigration was developing.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, meanwhile, said it was “eminently sensible” to consider further changes to benefits for EU migrants.

But he cautioned changes must be done in conjunction with other European states or there would be a “danger” of tit-for-tat changes made by other governments.

“The idea that somehow we can apply new criteria to Germans, Fins, Dutch, Austrians you name it, but somehow no new conditions would apply to Brits living in other European Union countries is fanciful,” he told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 live.

The easing of restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians working in the UK at the beginning of the year has seen the debate surrounding so-called benefit tourism resurface.

Mr Duncan Smith said there was “a growing groundswell of concern about the [immigration] issue” and Britain was “right in the middle of a large group of nations saying enough is enough”.

He said he had been working with the other countries to bring pressure on Brussels to allow individual EU member countries to make their own rules stricter.

Mr Duncan Smith said Britain should ask migrants: “Demonstrate that you are committed to the country, that you are a resident and that you are here for a period of time and you are generally taking work and that you are contributing.”

He added: “At that particular point… it could be a year, it could be two years, after that, then we will consider you a resident of the UK and be happy to pay you benefits.”

Sources close to Mr Duncan Smith stressed he was expressing an aspiration for the future rather than spelling out a policy.

It comes after Europe’s Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Mr Andor insisted migrant workers were net contributors to the UK economy.

“We shouldn’t assume that the UK welfare system is a lot more generous than that of many other countries,” he said.

“Migrant workers altogether are net contributors to the system. They take out much less in the form of benefits or welfare services than what they contribute in the form of taxes or contributions to the system.”

His remarks echoed that of his EU colleague Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission, who said last week that it was a “myth” to speak about an “invasion of foreigners” stealing jobs and draining welfare and health resources.

Christian Dustmann, an economics professor at University College London who has published research on how much migrants claim in benefits in comparison to people born in the UK, told BBC Radio 5 live on Sunday there was clear evidence about who was claiming more.

“We have looked at the overall receipt of transfers and benefits, which of course include child benefit, housing benefit and other forms of benefits, and what we find is that migrants from EU countries are 33% less likely than UK natives to claim any form of benefits,” he said.

Prof Dustmann said there was “very little concern that immigrants from EU countries are free-riding on the UK’s welfare system”.

Matthew Pollard, executive director of Migration Watch UK, a think tank that supports tighter immigration controls, accepted EU migrants claimed less than UK nationals in out-of-work benefits but said it was “still right for the government to restrict access”.

“It goes against people’s sense of fairness that the EU want an EU migrant to be treated in exactly the same way as a Brit when it comes to out-of-work benefits. This undermines confidence in the welfare system as well as the EU in general,” he told 5 live.

He said migrants claimed more in terms of “in work” benefits, such as working tax credits and housing benefit, and there was no economic case for mass immigration.

Last week UKIP leader Nigel Farage called for migrants to be barred from receiving benefits until they have been living in the UK for five years.

London Mayor Boris Johnson suggested any ban should be two years.

Meanwhile, more than 90 Conservative MPs have written to David Cameron urging him to give Parliament a national veto over current and future EU laws.

I make no apologies when I say I’m no fan of Iain Duncan Smith or the coalition as I feel that they have gone three steps further than what Thatcher herself would not have done in some sense like eroding the welfare system to attack the poor, like creating a us and them culture by introducing the bedroom tax will remind those of us who remembers there much dreaded poll tax.

Already we’ve have learnt of alleged suicides by various MPs and other horror stories. It just makes you wonder if people are not sicking by this to bring out the votes to get rid of this coalition what will a radical movement for change like a revolution hopefully not violence but in a peaceful way by using the ballot box.

Let’s not forget that both the press and media had a hand in this by sewing the seed in every bodies head to endure that they will get the result that they wanted in the first place of a coalition so next time don’t fall into the trap again.

I don’t know whether cry or laugh as its further alleged that thousands of people have been wrongly identified as liable for the bedroom tax, including some who now face eviction or have been forced to move to a smaller property, as a result of an error by Department of Work and Pensions.

Housing experts believe as many as 40,000 people could be affected by the mistake. The DWP says it believes only a “small number” of tenants are affected, which it estimates number 5,000.

All could be eligible for refunds worth on average at least £640 per claimant and millions in aggregate.

The error affects working age tenants in social housing who have occupied the same home continuously since 1996. An oversight by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when drafting the legislation means that the housing benefit regulations dating from 1996 were not updated when the coalition legislated for the bedroom tax.

Chris Bryant MP, Labour’s shadow minister for welfare reform, said: “This is the latest example of the chaos and confusion within the Department of Work and Pensions under Iain Duncan Smith. Rather than closing loopholes in the policy, the government should scrap their hated bedroom tax. If they don’t, the next Labour government will.” A spokesperson for the DWP said the regulations would be amended to close the loophole, although it is not clear how this will be done.

The bedroom tax affects 660,000 housing benefit claimants living in social housing. The policy imposes an average penalty of between £14 and £22 a week on working-age tenants deemed to have more bedrooms than they need.

Joe Halewood, an independent housing consultant, says that the estimate that 40,000 people were affected was based on the scaling up nationally of figures collected by Exeter City council, which has identified 31 of its housing tenants – 4.5% of those affected by the bedroom tax in the city – as wrongly held liable. .

Halewood told the Guardian’s housing network website: “Forty thousand is actually a conservative estimate. You’re looking at one in 25 of housing benefit claimants being affected.”

Peter Delamothe, a housing benefit consultant at HBinfo, said he had spoken to a council that had already identified 250 tenants wrongly ruled liable for the bedroom tax: “This is a shambles caused by the DWP failing to understand the significance of their own legislation”.

Another council, which did not want to be named, said its initial inquiries suggested 15% of its tenants affected by the bedroom tax could be exempt and would qualify for a refund.

The Exeter tenants received exemption notices in December, after a local tribunal discovered the loophole. News of the decision spread over the Christmas and new year period as local campaigners raised the issue on social media, and it is understood that several individual appeals have been launched around the country.

It is believed that some tenants who may now be deemed exempt will have received hundreds of pounds in emergency discretionary housing payments (DHPs) since April to help them cope with the shortfall in their income caused by the bedroom tax. They will have their housing benefit refunded, but will not be obliged to repay the DHP cash, which may result in some actually gaining hundreds of pounds in cash.

Some councils have assigned staff to assess how many households in their area are affected, but there are concerns that most will not have kept housing records dating back to 1996. Some are understood to have legitimately destroyed older files under data protection rules.

In effect this may mean that councils will be forced to judge many exemption claims on the “balance of probability”. The process of investigating individual claims could take weeks or months, according to one housing sector insider.

The DWP error could also lead to hundreds of applications to the local government ombudsman as tenants seek redress for being wrongly made liable for the bedroom tax.

Theo Blackwell, the cabinet member for finance at Camden council said: “While good news for those families, it is an administrative nightmare as we have to find those continuously in receipt of housing benefit going back 18 years, when we – like most councils – have changed systems largely from a paper-based one to new IT systems. This is more evidence of how the bedroom tax policy was rushed and ill-conceived.”

Giles Peaker, a solicitor at Anthony Gold who blogs about housing law at the Nearly Legal website, said: “It wouldn’t be a surprise if regulations accidentally failed to amend or repeal some previous regulations. It happens quite often when the relevant law is labyrinthine. If I were a housing benefit recipient in the relevant situation, I would certainly appeal the bedroom tax deduction on these grounds.”

So labour win the vote and debate in their calls for a public enquiry into the effects of the Tory welfare “reform”. A lot of people don’t seem to understand about voting on issues like this in parliament, and despite the good news, some have been griping that there were too few MPs turned up to vote. Let me clarify. First of all this was a backbench debate, so it was only the backbench MPs that attended. This can be seen on the Hansard record.

Secondly, on other occasions MPs have other business to attend, when you read the reasons for their absence, they are usually valid and understandable. In these circumstances, MPs use the pairing system to vote on the issue in advance of the debate. That was the case recently with the bedroom ta debate that Labour tabled themselves.

The third issue to consider is that the Lib dems almost always vote with the Tories, which leaves Labour outnumbered anyway, so to win any vote is a spectacular success for them. However, the debates are tabled by Labour to raise public awareness every bit as much as they are to challenge, oppose, and attempt to persuade the libdems and tories that their policies are toxic and damaging, and there is of course a record kept of all of the issues raised with Coalition policies, which is very useful as a reference, and will be in the future, too, as evidence.

Some are using people’s ignorance about the voting system to perpetuate propaganda about Labour. For example the SNP circulated the lie that labour didn’t vote recently on an issue, yet the Hansard record shows plainly that they did, and all of them, sufficient to divide the House. That was an appallingly blatant lie from the SNP. Similarly, the claim made about MPs not bothering to vote on the bedroom tax recently was used as propaganda, yet the pairing system was in use for that debate, and they ALL voted. Furthermore it was LABOUR that tabled that debate in the first place, and they have opposed the bedroom tax from the start! I can’t abide people telling lies to get their own way, but some ARE. And not just Tories either. Please be careful not to believe all you read and see, it is bad enough fighting the Tories, but they are not the only ones with an agenda that aims at damaging the Labour Party by telling lies about them.

As if that’s not bad enough of lately most of the press and politicians all seems to promote the right wing agenda of wanting to ban EU migrants from claiming benefits for three month or five years whichever is greater.

It’s hardly surprising to learn that George Osborne’s pledge to make the state permanently smaller. Many feel the state is due to expand in a quite unwelcome way. The £25 billion Osborne says he is cutting probably going to finance out of work benefits as unemployment raises which many think it will.

Quantitative easing will have to stop before the market calls time and the expanding US deficit will cause interest rates to rise both there and here. All this will cause pressure on companies’ margin and cause them to reduce their workforce or close to protect those margins.

The tax to pay for unemployment will be collected from middle and lower earners who at the same time will have their share of welfare state reduced by means testing.

Middle Britain will be educated into believing that they are supporting scroungers and slackers and any proposals to change course will be greeted by the cry “where is the money coming from.

Of couse this will have certain credibility as so much will be committed to unemployed benefits. The way of handling the crisis seems to bear a great deal of resemblance to the way things were done in the 80s to keep the Conservatives in power for years.

Let’s us all hope that Osborne is like one of those First World War generals who made mistakes because they were always fighting the last battle.

Let us all also hope that Labour does not repeat the same mistakes it did in the 80s and makes opportune alliance without being merely shallow and opportunists. Now is the time to return to Labour and remind them of their core values and vote Labour in all the elections in 2014-2016.

Such negatives do not help people on benefits but plays into George Osborne hands

I have to say as much as I do really enjoy watching Channel 4 documentary programmes I have to raise a serious objection to one of its showing of Benefits Street as it was portraying a very negative picture of people who are on benefits as the programme as done is largely tarnish people with one brush to say that people who are on benefits are down and outs who goes out to steal for a living whilst I acknowledge that there is a small number of people who abuse our welfare system those are far fewer than the majority does  go out to find employment.

photo (3)Those that are on benefits are decent people who wants to work and actual do something about some will be successful in getting employment whilst some will have to go back to the drawing board to reapply for jobs whilst attending college or higher education to improve themselves. Both the Programme Maker(s) and George Osborne need to revisit their objectives and realize that some people who suffers from mental health issue who may or may not be able to hold down a job in some cases but with the right support in the community they maybe able to return to some form of employment

photo (4)What is particular upsetting is the area in concern is part of my constituency and the three local councillors, MP, and police has done lots of work to try to improve the area and the street in concern by working with the neighborhood watch and council officers.  This documentary has played into the hands of West Minister Village and the press who has no knowledge of the area under than one of a deprived area of Ladywood constituency and rather than acknowledging that there have been some positives in the area so it’s no surprise there has been uproar.

I would like to make it quite clear that I’m no way glorifying criminals who in some cases choose to make a living out of stealing because they don’t have a job. all I’m highlighting that central government, local government and other agencies need to continue to work together in partnership to help people back into full-time employment not for the short-term but for the long-term.

It does not help either by George Osborne scapegoating the under 25s by stopping them from claiming benefits as some under 25s have left their parent house to either start-up a new life others were brought up in care and the only means is to receive benefits until they get on their feet again.

photoTo be honest this programme in my opinion smacks of a hidden agenda which plays in to the far right agenda given the current  political climate. I have to say if any of the alleged so-called victims have been found guilty by a court of law by breaking the laws then they deserve everything that they get.

Official unemployment figures give David Cameron the opportunity to bray in his classical Flashman-style bullying manner at Ed Miliband in Parliament.

But he knows that there is far less to these figures than meets the eye.

The idea that 99,000 jobseekers have removed themselves from the jobless roll in the past month because they have found full-time employment is fanciful.

The fall in the official jobless total is due to a variety of factors, only one of which is linked to the good tidings of an unemployed person finding a decent job.

Everyone who signs up to work experience or a “training” course, no matter how threadbare, is regarded as in employment.

The same goes for people pressed to accept part-time work or zero-hours contracts even though they would far prefer full-time employment.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, whose apologists project him as the human face of the conservative coalition, has decided to hold a 12-week consultation into zero-hours contracts.

However, he opposes banning them because they offer “welcome flexibility” for some workers.

Cabinet ministers, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Directors are as one in pronouncing zero-hours contracts beneficial to workers but, when working people themselves are consulted, it’s a different story.

The 5.5 million people suffering this system in the hospitality industry, call centres, care homes, retail, fast food, charities and cinemas identify problems associated with it.

Inability to plan a household budget, punitive rent agreements, constant debt, no access to credit and stress brought on by inadequate hours all affect zero-hours contract workers.

Even most “real” new jobs offer little better than the official minimum wage.

Compare the newly created low-paid jobs in areas such as retail, fast food and hotels with the loss this week alone of 250 full-time jobs and 365 agency posts at Sharp’s solar panel plant in Wrexham, followed by another 230 jobs at First Milk’s cheese factory in the same town.

These twin setbacks in a single north Welsh town are a devastating blow to the local economy, but they also form part of a pattern of insidious deindustrialisation throughout Britain as the government prioritises the interests of the City financial sector over all other areas.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles made clear in Parliament that local authorities in England will face a 2.9 per cent cut in spending for 2014-15.

Given that authorities have their hands tied over a government-imposed council tax freeze beyond the life of this Parliament, this further resources reduction can only herald more job cuts in essential services.

Pickles talks airily about councils cutting out waste, but he knows that it will be discretionary spending on local charities, youth facilities and pensioners’ clubs that will face the axe.

Ed Miliband is right to point out that workers’ average wages are down £364 on a year ago and over £1,500 lower than at the general election, but he misses an open goal by failing to follow up this point.

There is no shortage of wealth in Britain.

Big business is sitting on cash reserves of at least £440 billion and the gap between rich and poor is stretching, yet Labour remains wedded to an austerity-lite agenda.

Miliband should respond in kind to the Con-Dem government’s anti-working people class war and propose a transfer of wealth from the rich and powerful through taxation and increased public ownership.

I’m glad that the West Midlands police are considering launching a new investigation based on footage from Channel 4‘s new hit documentary Benefits Street, after receiving many comments from viewers concerned that it may have featured criminal activity.

photo (1)The force said it was assessing whether footage from the show, which focuses on a community in Birmingham‘s Winson Green, could assist in ongoing investigations, or could warrant new inquiries being launched.

Featuring the inhabitants of James Turner Street, which Channel 4 claims has one of the highest proportions of benefits dependents in Britain, the first episode of Benefits Street, broadcast on Monday night, is the broadcaster’s most popular show in more than a year, attracting more than 4 million viewers.

“Throughout the programme and in the hours that have followed, we have been inundated with comments from members of the public, many of whom are concerned about elements of the show which showed criminal activity,” West Midlands police superintendent Danny Long said on Tuesday.

photo (2)“We are currently assessing whether the content of the programme can assist us as part of any ongoing investigations or indeed whether any new inquiries should be launched in light of the material that has been broadcast.”

Channel 4 said it had received about 100 complaints about the show late on Tuesday. Media regulator Ofcom is understood to have received more than 100 further complaints relating to unfair, misleading and offensive portrayals of benefits claimants, alleged criminal activity and excessive bad language.

photo (5)A Channel 4 spokesman said: “The production crew were filming in a purely observational capacity – at no stage was criminal behaviour encouraged or condoned. All contributors were briefed that if they carried out criminal activity on camera, this could result in criminal investigations after broadcast.”

The spokesman added that Benefits Street was a “fair and balanced observational documentary”, with contributors briefed extensively before filming and given the chance not to be included, or to view and comment on programmes they featured in pre-transmission.

“They said they believed the programme was going to be called Community Spirit. They found out about the name change last week. They were concerned about it and their concerns were borne out last night when it was aired,” he said.

Other residents were on Tuesday coming to terms with a kind of celebrity they had not exactly been looking for. Within hours, one said, people were tweeting threats on social media. By yesterday afternoon, bored young men in fast cars were driving down the street shouting “benefits street!” and laughing at people walking down the road.

Another resident, OnOne pensioner, who said she’d lived on the street for 50 years, said she had many calls from her grandchildren telling her she must move. “All I worry about is my grandkids,” she said, “The shame.”

Long said that police were also assessing whether people posting comments about the show on Twitter had potentially committed criminal offences.

Chaman Lal, who represents the area on Birmingham City Council as a Soho ward councillor, said he found the first programme in the series to be “unfair and unrepresentative”. “I know that most of the residents are law abiding, honest, hardworking, some are retired and anybody on benefits [it] is not by choice – jobs are very hard to find.”

Walking her child home from school Nadia Bi, who lives on the street, was also angry at how her road was portrayed. “They are trying to say this area is a bad area. Not everyone on this road is bad. They have put it on this road, it’s not right.”

Jamie Rivers, who is 28 and currently looking for work, was asked to appear on the programme and did some filming with the team before changing his mind. “I’m glad I did. They have got people to sign up and they did not know what they were signing up to. It makes the street look really bad. But they have made it now, there’s nothing we can do.”

Suzie Stennett, said those who appeared might have been “a bit naïve”. But she questioned the premise of the programme, in a climate when “people are gunning for people on benefits”.

“Yes, there are people that are stay-at-home mums, I’m sure there are everywhere. You can’t hate on them for that. Not everybody takes advantage of the system. Most people are trying.”

Benefit Street is made by independent producer Love Productions, which also makes The Great British Bake Off and The Great British Sewing Bee.

Well lets hope that if the producers who made the programme did informed the alleged residence that they were making a documentary on benefit fraud

George Osborne’s plan A target people who are on benefits

The more I read about George Osborne’s plan A I’m sure many would be angry to learn that more cuts will continue and voters are getting nothing in return with the so called austerity plan whilst people are witnessing their pay packets remaining the same. MPs are being egged on to take an 11% increase in their salary in some quarters.

It has reached to a stage that the average Joe Blog cannot even afford to buy a loaf of bread to feed their family and have to join the Foodbank queues as rent, mortgage, council tax, electric, gas, and water bills all increases at a quicker rate under this coalition.

Welcome to the coalition’s Armagideon Time for poor people as they fight over the crumbs that are dropped from the fatcat table as they finish singing their songs of joy to the world The Lord has come and O come all ye faithful joyful and triumphant Oh come ye O come ye to Bethlehem.

I’m sure that many poor people are feeling the knock on effect of this coalition hitting the unemployed hard. The coalition should note that one size does not fit all to say that they are lazy and don’t want to work given that there more people under this coalition that has lost their jobs and have to be retrained to gain full-time employment. They fail to take into account that some people are on benefits who are suffering from mental health, disabilities, ill-health to name a few. 

What a coward George Osborne has become by hitting the under 25s benefits and restricting those earning over £65,000 a year when asked by the Newsnight commenter how would this be achieved the Conservative representative who refused to answer the question but instead chose to attack Labour record on welfare. Nice one all mouth with froth and no action but instead said wait to our manifesto comes out on how they will tackle the £25 Billion spending cuts from welfare budget cuts. 

Yet it has been reported that more than 40,000 of Birmingham’s most hard-up households will see their council tax bills more than DOUBLE next year.

Benefit cuts meant out of work and low income households had to pay 8.5 per cent of the charge for the first time this year. For most this was about £85, based on a £986 a year bill for a band B property.

The bill was kept low because of a £2.1 million Government grant, but that money is no longer available to the city council.

As a result the charge will rise to 20 per cent, about £200, for 2014/15, and could go even higher as the council is currently consulting on a two per cent across the board increase.

The benefit rate is likely to be approved at the council’s monthly meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

photoOnly pensioners, households with children under six and households with disabled residents or carers, will have their council tax paid in full.

It means that more than 40,000 households will be hit by the increase.

Council deputy leader Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End) blamed the Coalition Government for cutting Birmingham’s funding for council tax benefit by ten per cent last year, forcing the council to pass it on to residents.

“As has been pointed out by the National Audit Office, this has contributed to the overall pressure on local authorities’ finance and we have had to design our own local support scheme against a backdrop of other funding cuts from central government.”

He added that the council took a decision to protect some of the city’s most vulnerable households from the charge, but could not protect everyone.

He said: “I hope people will see that have tried to support vulnerable people as far as we can under very difficult circumstances.”

photoIntriguingly, on twitter there has been an alleged debate between Poland’s foreign minister and David Cameron’s call for change to European Union treaties to allow the withdrawal of child benefit from migrants working in UK. If Britain gets our taxpayers, shouldn’t it also pay their benefits.

He added that polish taxpayers should not subsidise UK taxpayers children.

The question should be addressed to all political parties who will be standing in 2015 General Elections and not confined just to the three main political parties. Let’s see what the position of the following parties have an answer how will they deal with £25 Billion welfare cuts from: UKIP, BNP, Socialist Labour, Unity Left, None Above and Socialist Workers Party.

I’m not that thick to know the difference between people who wants to work vs those who has never worked owing to lack of skills knowledge. Take for example I’ve known some people who has not worked for some 20 odd years and they be happy to milk the system for what they can get but in the end they get caught out.

Then there is the other side of the coin when hard working people who worked most of their adult life only for them who lost their jobs are tarnish with the same brush it’s no wonder this coalition creates a culture of us and them. It’s no good to say that the coalition has inherit debts incurred by the previous Labour Govt as it has been worn out.