At the start of Labour’s penultimate conference before the 2015 General Election – one of the chief criticims of the Party is “you’ve got no policies”.

Well here’s a snapshot of what’s wrong with Cameron – and more importantly what Labour would do to make Britain better (and fairer).

The problem

Under David Cameron Britain’s families are facing a cost of living crisis…

  • Prices have risen faster than wages in 38 of the 39 months that David Cameron has been in Downing Street
  • Working people are an average of almost £1500 a year worse off under this Government

…and with a Government putting a privileged few before working people this doesn’t feel like a recovery for most people.

•      David Cameron has cut tax for people on over £150,000 a year while raising it for everyone else

•      Energy companies have been allowed to hike bills by more than £300 whilst making record profits

•      They’ve wasted three years whilst prices have risen, wages have stagnated and borrowing has hardly come down

•      While small businesses struggle to get credit, bankers’ bonuses are up 82%

 Policy announcements

One Nation Labour will tackle the cost of living crisis by building an economy that works for working people…

•      Cut income tax for people on average incomes, with a new 10p starting rate of tax paid for by asking for a bit more from those with homes worth over £2m.

•      End the abuse of zero hour contracts and strengthen the minimum wage, because Britain can’t compete on ever greater insecurity and lower wages. The fine for breaking the minimum wage law will rise from a derisory £5000 to £50,000.

•      Dramatically increase the number of high quality apprenticeships by making them a requirement of every big company the government buys from

*      Require medium and large companies to train one British worker for every non-EU foreign worker that they take on, so that where there are shortages requiring foreign staff they are addressed for the future. And we will ban recruitment agencies that only recruit overseas workers

… and as we deal with the cost of living crisis, the next Labour government will be different from the last.  

•      In tougher times, we will make tougher choices on spending.  We will scrap winter-fuel payments for the wealthiest pensioners

•      Our plans for day-to-day spending do not involve any additional borrowing, with fully funded plans to reverse David Cameron’s unfair Bedroom Tax.

School-age Childcare

Labour will introduce a ‘primary childcare guarantee’ giving all parents of primary school children the guarantee of childcare availability through their school from 8am-6pm.

 

The problem

Families are facing a cost of living crisis under David Cameron. By 2015 the Government will have taken up to £7 billion a year of support away from families with children.

 

Childcare is a key part of this cost-of-living crisis. For school-age children, childcare can become a logistical nightmare. David Cameron abandoned Labour’s programme to support school-age childcare, leaving many parents struggling to juggle work and family life

 

Today, while in many areas extended schools have survived, in other areas after-school clubs have been closing: last year Labour FOIs found that 37% of Local Authorities reported a cut in the number of after-school clubs and 44% reported that breakfast clubs had closed in their area.

 

62% of parents of school-age children say that they need some form of before-and-after school or holiday care in order to combine family and work but of these, nearly three in ten were unable to find it.

 

Policy announcement

To give parents of primary-aged children peace of mind, Labour will guarantee in law that they can access wraparound (8am-6pm) childcare through their local school if they want it.

 

Parents of primary age children will benefit most from a new guarantee as this is when families most require childcare support.

 

Parents will still have to pay for this wraparound childcare, just as they do at the moment, but the guaranteed availability will make things that little bit easier. Those who qualify for childcare support will get help with the costs through tax credits and childcare vouchers.

 

Schools and local areas will be given discretion over how best to organise the guarantee locally, dependent on the facilities available. Primary schools would be encouraged to develop partnerships to deliver high quality childcare and a range of pre-and-after-school activities to local parents.

 

 

Scrapping the Bedroom Tax

Ed Miliband has today announced that Labour will repeal David Cameron’s bedroom tax, with a fully funded plan to do so without additional borrowing.

 

The problem

 

The Bedroom Tax is a cruel and unfair measure that hits over 400,000 disabled people. For the vast majority of those affected, there is nowhere smaller to move to, hitting vulnerable people through no fault of their own. See

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/20/bedroom-tax-despair-tory-village

for an example of the sort of dilemma that results.

 

There is now a real risk that the Bedroom Tax will cost more money than it saves.

 

Policy announcement

The next Labour government will repeal the Bedroom Tax.

But we are clear that there cannot be extra borrowing to pay for social security changes. So to ensure that it can be reversed without any additional borrowing funds have been earmarked from:

·         Reversing George Osborne’s recent tax cut for hedge funds announced in Budget 2013;

·         Reversing George Osborne’s shares for rights scheme which has been rejected by businesses, has opened up a tax loophole and will lead to £1bn being lost to the Exchequer according to the Office for Budget Responsibility;

·         Tackling tax and national insurance avoidance in the construction industry.

 

These measures will more than cover the maximum £470m cost of repealing the Bedroom Tax.

Labour will deal with under-occupation by funding local authorities who are able to help people with the costs of moving to suitable accommodation, using the funding set aside by the Government through Discretionary Housing Payments for dealing with the problems caused by the Bedroom Tax.