Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls today sets out how tax cuts and wage rises planned by a Labour government would help grow the North East economy.
Writing exclusively for The Journal, the politician who could be in charge of the Treasury in three months’ time insists Labour is pro-business and the party will help the region “build on its success stories” should it win power in May.
The shadow minister said raising the minimum wage will benefit 75,000 people across the North East as he pledged to introduce a “modern industrial strategy” that would see businesses offered tax rebates to introduce the living wage.
He said: “Our plan is not just about the largest companies – with a Labour Government, small business will be first in line for tax cuts, starting with a cut in business rates. Over 70,000 businesses across the region will benefit from this promise. That’s over 70,000 businesses able to use that money to expand, invest, and employ more local people.
“Our plan means the tax burden on small businesses will be lower than under this Conservative-led government. We will combine a modern industrial strategy with action so that businesses and working families succeeding together. We will not leave families to sink or swim. When it works for people, it works for Britain.
“So we’ll make work pay, with a higher minimum wage, benefitting over 75,000 people across Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland, Durham and Middlesbrough.
“We’ll reintroduce the 10p tax rate, meaning nearly one million people across the North East keep more of the money they earn. We’ll give tax rebates businesses who choose to pay the living wage in the first year of the parliament. And we’ll enable eight thousand parents across the region to take on more hours at work by expanding free childcare.”
The Shadow Chancellor also pledged to invest in skills and said a Labour Government will work alongside the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships.
He said: “I want to make sure the North East can continue to unlock the potential, experience and dynamism of businesses of all sizes; working families; and the next generation who want to get on.
“That is why the next Labour government will keep Britain in reformed Europe and work with business, LEPS and local government to get skills and infrastructure modern manufactures need. Because Labour’s plan is not about standing aside and waiting for wealth to trickle down from a few at the top to everyone else.
“So we will invest. In science, infrastructure, skills, which all companies, from Hitachi in County Durham, to SSI on Teesside rely on.”
He added the plans would involve “difficult decisions”.
“We will cap child benefit and take away the winter allowance from the 5% of richest pensioners,” he said. “And we will reverse this government’s big tax cut for people earning over £150,000.
“We will make different choices, with fairness at the centre of our plan. Our plan is pro-business but not business as usual. Supporting wealth creation but making sure everyone pays their fair share. A Labour Government will act to strengthen growth across the North East, to build on your success stories, and to make sure everyone feels the benefits of it; a better plan for the North East’s prosperity.”