Labour launches manifesto with pledge to end the debt by cutting public spending

Labour leader Ed Miliband will warn "we live in a time of scarcity" as he slams Tory promises of £8 billion for the NHS

Labour party leader Ed Miliband
Labour party leader Ed Miliband

Labour leader Ed Miliband will insist only HE can be trusted to bring public spending under control, as he launches Labour’s election manifesto.

He will contrast his promise to stop the nation spending more than it can afford - even if it means cutting spending on public services - with the Conservative pledge to find an extra £8 billion a year for the NHS.

Critics say the Tories can’t explain where the money for their health pledge will come from.

And the Labour leader will insist it’s wrong to offer massive spending increases - warning: “We live in a time of scarcity.”

But he will also highlight policies which he says will help working people, including a more modest proposal to increase health funding by £2.5 billion a year, providing 25 hours of childcare for working parents of three and four year olds, and cutting class sizes for five, six and seven year olds.

The general election campaign steps up a gear with the launch of Labour’s manifesto on Monday, with the Conservatives and Greens launching their own proposals on Tuesday and the Lib Dems holding their manifesto launch on Wednesday.

Opinion polls suggest the public trusts the Conservatives more when it comes to running the economy and keeping debts under control.

But Mr Miliband will attempt to convince voters that only he can be trusted to bring borrowing under control.

He will say that the Tory NHS pledge proves they actually can’t be trusted with the economy, because they are making promises about extra spending in a desperate bid to win the election.

Mr Miliband will say: “In recent days you have seen the Conservatives throwing spending promises around with no idea of where the money is coming from, promises which are unfunded, unfair and unbelievable.”

The first page of Labour’s manifesto includes a promise to cut the deficit every year.

This is the difference between the amount the Government receives in taxes and the amount it spends. As long as there is a deficit, the total national debt goes up - along with the interest payments the Government has to make.

And the manifesto warns that spending on public services except for a few “protected areas” like education and the NHS will fall every year, until this has been achieved.

However, Labour is still willing to borrow money to spend on infrastructure, such as new schools, hospitals or roads.

Key Labour promises include:

* A £2.5bn NHS Time to Care fund in the early years of the next parliament paid for from a mansion tax on properties over £2m, a levy on tobacco firms and closing a hedge fund tax avoidance loophole.

* 25 hours of childcare for working parents of 3 & 4 year olds, paid for by increasing the banking levy by £800m.

* Smaller class sizes for 5, 6, & 7 year olds paid for by ending the Free Schools programme.

* Lower business rates for small business properties paid for by not going ahead with another cut to Corporation Tax.

* Helping with energy costs by freezing gas and electricity bills until 2017, so they can only fall not rise, while we reset the market.

* Ensuring hard work pays by banning exploitative zero hour contracts and raising the minimum wage to £8.

And there will also be spending cuts and tax increases, including:

* Departmental budgets falling every year outside protected areas like Education and the NHS until the deficit on day-to-day spending is eliminated, although there can still be borrowing for “investment”.

* Scrapping Winter Fuel Payments for the richest pensioners and capping Child Benefit rises

* A cap on overall welfare spending

* Higher taxes for people earning more than £150,000

Mr Miliband will admit that he can’t promise large amounts of extra spending - but will argue: “The plan we lay before you is no less ambitious because we live in a time of scarcity. It is more ambitious because it starts from a clear commitment to balance the books and more ambitious because it does not stop there.”

He will add: “It is a plan to change our country. A plan to reward hard work, ensure prosperity is fairly shared, build a future for the next generation and improve our NHS.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer