Ed Miliband is today setting out six of the key economic Bills that would appear in a Labour Queen’s Speech next week: a One Nation programme with new ideas to begin turning Britain’s economy around.
Labour’s economic plans include:
• A Jobs Bill to put in place a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.
• A Finance Bill that would kick-start our economy and help make work pay with a 10p rate of tax.
• A Consumers Bill to tackle rip-off energy bills and train fares.
• A Banking Bill that backs British business with a real British Investment Bank and new regional banks.
• A Housing Bill that would take action against rogue landlords and extortionate fees in the private rented sector.
• An Immigration Bill with economic measures that put an end to workers having their wages undercut illegally by employers exploiting migrant labour.
He will use a speech in Newcastle-under-Lyme to highlight how this Tory-led Government has now had three years in office in which it has shown it is out of touch with the British people, run out of ideas on how to turn our country around, and carried on regardless with a failed economic plan which offers only more of the same.
He will say that in the last three years Britain has got worse, not better:
• Worse on jobs: with one million young people unemployed and more people out of work than when David Cameron became Prime Minister.
• Worse on growth and living standards: with the economy flatlining for two and a half years, and families paying the price with real wages down £1,700 since the election.
• Worse with the banks: with lending to businesses still falling.
• Worse with housing: with new housing starts falling and more families being left in the private rented sector with rising rents and too little security.
• Worse with family bills: with energy bills having risen by £300, while the profits of the energy companies have soared.
He will call for a Queen’s Speech next week which sets out an economic programme which can begin rebuilding our economy so that we can work together for a recovery made by the many.
Setting out the key economic Bills in Labour’s Alternative Queen’s speech, he will say Britain needs new ideas, a recognition that the real wealth creators are all the people who put in the hours and do the shifts - not just a few at the top – and a relentless focus on our economy
Speaking in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Mr Miliband will say:
“As I go round the country people tell me it feels like this is a country going backwards.
Because things are so hard. Not hard for the richest, but hard for those who put in the hours, do the shifts. Hard for those who open their businesses early in the morning, hard for those who work late into the night.”
“I am here with a simple message today for the whole country: Britain needs to change.
“This Government’s had its chance. It has failed. Three years of failure: low growth, falling living standards, and more borrowing. All this government offers is more of the same: years more of falling wages and living standards, bigger welfare bills and national decline. This is a Government which has run out of ideas. This is a Government dividing, not uniting, our country.
“We need a recovery made by the many, not just a few at the top. We need to recognise that the real wealth creators are not just a handful of millionaires but all of you – people who do the hours, put in the shifts, get up early and go home late. And Britain needs new ideas rather than just more of the same.
“A One Nation Labour government would introduce an economic programme next week in the Queen’s Speech which would show how we can tackle this crisis together.
“That would mean a Bill to start putting people back to work through our Compulsory Jobs Guarantee paid for with a tax on bankers’ bonuses. Real jobs, with real opportunities and real responsibility. Most unemployed people are desperate for work but if anyone turned down this chance, they would lose benefits.
“A Labour government would have a Finance Bill that would kickstart our economy, help make work pay by introducing a new 10p rate paid for by taxing property worth more than £2 million. We would also reverse the millionaire's tax cut and protect tax credits that help working families. Those are different choices from this Tory-led Government which believes the people that matter most are just a few at the top.
“We would pass new laws to stop the big rip-off electricity and gas bills, with proper reform of our energy market to break the stranglehold of the big six energy companies. And we would cap train fares on every route to stop the price of the daily commute getting further and further out of reach.
“A Labour government would take action to ensure our banking system works for business – lending to those firms that invest, invent, train make and sell – rather than allow the banks just to work for themselves.
“We would pass legislation to tackle the rogue landlords and letting agencies who pack people in sub-standard, over-crowded accommodation or charge extortionate fees in the private rented sector.
“And a One Nation government would strengthen laws to stop workers having their wages undercut illegally by employers exploiting migrant labour.
“These are different choices we would make now to begin turning Britain around. But we’re not going to do this on our own. We’re not going to do this without you.
It takes One Nation. Joining together. Coming together. Working together. One Nation. That's how we rebuild Britain.”
Detail of Bills
• The housing market has changes significantly in recent years. There are now 3.8 million households in the private rented sector, including more than one million with children.
• Many are being ripped off through hidden fees, which are costing tenants £76m per year.
• More than a third of all privately rented homes are not up to decent standards, with more than 15 per cent lacking minimal heat in winter.
The Bill would:
• Introduce a national register of landlords, to allow LAs to root out and strike off rogue landlords, including those who pack people into overcrowded accommodation.
• Tackle rip-off letting agents, ending the confusing, inconsistent fees and charges.
• Seek to give greater security to families who rent and remove the barriers that stand in the way of longer term tenancies.
• Since the government’s Spending Review in the fourth quarter of 2010, the UK economy has grown by just 1.1 per cent – compared to the 6 per cent forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility at the time.
• The lack of growth means that the Government is now borrowing £245bn more than they planned.
• Prices are rising faster than wages and people are now £1,700 a year worse off than they were in May 2010.
The Bill would:
• Reintroduce a 10p rate of income tax, paid for by taxing mansions worth over £2m.
• Stop the cut to the 50p rate of income tax for those on the highest incomes to reverse cuts to tax credits.
• Reverse the Tory-led Government's damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period - a £450 boost for a couple with children.
• Provide a one year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements, repairs and maintenance - to help homeowners and small businesses
• Put in place a one year national insurance tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers - helping small businesses to grow and create jobs
• Families are facing record fuel bills while energy companies are enjoying huge profits. Since the election average energy bills are £300 a year higher.
• Rail fares are rising by up to 9 per cent a year, after the Government gave back to private train operators the ability to increase some fares by up to another 5 per cent above the fare increase ‘cap’.
• Upon retirement a pensioner can discover that up to almost half the value of their pension fund has been wiped out by hidden costs and charges.
The Bill would:
• Abolish Ofgem and create a tough new energy watchdog with the power to force energy suppliers to pass on price cuts when the cost of wholesale energy falls
• Require the energy companies to pool the power they generate and to make it available to any retailer, to open the market and to put downward pressure on prices
• Force energy companies to put all over-75s on their cheapest tariff helping those benefiting to save up to £200 per year
• Apply strict caps on fare rises on every route, and remove the right for train companies to vary regulated fares by up to 5 per cent above the average change in regulated fares.
• Introduce a new legal right for passengers to the cheapest ticket for their journey.
• Tackle the worst offending pension schemes by capping their charges at a maximum of 1 per cent;
• Amend legislation and regulation to force all pension funds to offer the same simple transparent charging structure so that consumers know the price they will be paying before they choose a particular scheme;
• There are nearly 1 million young people out of work.
• The number of people out of work for two years is half a million – the highest since the end of the last Tory Government in May 1997.
• Since David Cameron became Prime Minister, the number of unemployed people has risen.
The Bill would:
• Introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, a paid job for every adult who is out of work for more than two years. People would have to take up those jobs or lose benefits. The £1 billion costs can be funded by reversing the government’s decision to stop tax relief on pension contributions for people earning over £150,000 being limited to 20 per cent
• Guarantee a 6 month paid job for all young people out of work for over a year, paid for by a bank bonus tax. Those offered a job would be required to take it.
• Require large firms getting government contracts to have an active apprenticeships scheme that ensures opportunities to work for the next generation.
• Lending to businesses is falling month on month, including a fall of £4.8bn in the three months to February according to the latest Bank of England figures.
• The Government’s schemes, such as the Merlin deal, the National Loan Guarantee Scheme and the Funding for Lending Scheme have all failed to help businesses.
• The Treasury has allocated just £300m in funding to their Business Bank, which isn’t a real bank, is staffed by BIS civil servants and is still not up and running.
The Bill would:
• Create a real British Investment Bank on a statutory basis, at arms length from government and with proper financing powers to operate like a bank.
• Set out that one of its purposes is to support small and medium sized businesses, including across the regions of the UK through regional banks.
• Provide a general backstop power so that if there is not genuine culture change from the banks they can be broken up.
• Put in place a Code of Conduct for bankers so that those who break the rules are struck off.
• Toughen the criminal sanctions against those involved in financial crime.
• In certain sectors there is evidence that workers, particularly migrant workers, are being exploited by being paid less than the minimum wage. A recent Kings College study found that between 150,000 and 220,000 care workers are paid less than the minimum wage.
• Enforcement is weak. There has not been a single prosecution for non-payment of the National Minimum Wage in the last two years.
The Bill would:
• Double the fines for breaching the National Minimum Wage and give local councils the power to take enforcement action over the NMW
• Extend the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to other sectors where abuse is taking place.
• Change NMW regulations to stop employers providing overcrowded and unsuitable tied accommodation and offsetting it against workers’ pay.