Labour will keep austerity, says Miliband

ED Miliband would “cut spending” if he wins the next election and he has issued a stark warning describing continued austerity under a Labour government.

Ed Miliband has said he would introduce more cuts if he was Prime Minister. Picture: Getty
Ed Miliband has said he would introduce more cuts if he was Prime Minister. Picture: Getty

Mr Miliband said Labour will have to show it “can do more with less” as he delivered a keynote speech setting out the party’s plans for the public finances.

The Labour leader last night said it was now “more necessary to get every pound of value out of services” as he delivered the Hugo Young lecture in London – an annual talk in memory of the former political writer.

Mr Miliband also pledged to curb “unaccountable power” in the public and private sectors with reforms to executive pay and fairer wages for the low paid.

Labour would do “things in a new way” as part of a shake-up of the way public services are run if the party wins next year’s General Election, Mr Miliband said. However, he suggested that his party would not radically depart from the Tory-led government’s austerity programme that has seen billions of pounds of cuts, as well as restrictions on public sector pay.

Mr Miliband talked about the “massive fiscal challenges” a Labour government would face in managing the UK’s finances and taking action to reduce the national deficit.

The Labour leader said spending cuts made the need for major reforms in the public and private sectors all the more important.

He said: “Clearly the next Labour government will face massive fiscal challenges. Including having to cut spending.

“That is why it is all the more necessary to get every pound of value out of services.

“And show we can do more with less. Including by doing things in a new way.”

Mr Miliband suggested that policies such as extending the living wage, which currently stands at £7.65 an hour outside London, would be a key part of plans to reform the public and private sectors.

A UK-wide Labour policy review, led by senior MP Jon Cruddas, is examining issues such as inequality, which Mr Miliband said last night would be at the heart of the party’s election manifesto in 2015.

He said: “The lesson of the New Labour years is that you can’t tackle inequality without changing our economy, from promoting a living wage, transforming vocational education, to reforming executive pay, to helping create good jobs with decent wages.

“I believe that inequality matters in our politics too. We need to hear the voices of people from all walks of life not just the rich and powerful.”

Last night Nick Clegg accused the Tories of planning an “assault on the hardworking people” of the UK as he insisted the Lib Dems had pursued the right policies in government.

The Deputy Prime Minister in a speech to business leaders attacked what he said were Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to slash billions of pounds from the welfare budget.

Mr Clegg defended the coalition government’s austerity measures, but said the Tories “will not do that in a way that is fair”.

Meanwhile, Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said: “Ed Miliband is still calling for yet more spending, more borrowing and more taxes. It’s the same old Labour – they have no long-term economic plan. That would mean a less secure future for Britain and for hard-working people and their families.”

A generation who are left wedded to debt

MORE than three times as many young people than pensioners are bearing the brunt of increasing debt, a new report has claimed.

An investigation by think tank Demos has found that 55 per cent of 18-24 year olds, and almost half of 25-34 year olds, said their debt had increased over the past five years, compared to only 13 per cent of over-65s.

In comparison, only 12 per cent of 18-24 year olds, and just over a quarter of 25-34 year olds, saw their debt decrease during the same period.

Respondents were asked to calculate the full extent of their debt, including credit cards, rent and bill arrears, and any combination of bank, student or payday loans.

Demos researchers found that although there may be positive reasons for getting into debt – such as funding their studies – the reasons are much more likely to be negative, with many struggling to make ends meet.

Researcher Jo Salter said: “When we talk about rising debt levels, it is young people in their 20s and 30s who are bearing the brunt. This is a time in their lives when previous generations would be thinking about starting a family or trying to get on the property ladder.”