At conference Ed Miliband will develop his responsible capitalism theme and announce new policies to boost construction and house building, help out small businesses and also ensure that improved skills and wages are at the heart of a Labour government.
Today Ed Miliband will develop his responsible capitalism theme and announce new policies to boost construction and house building, help out small businesses and also ensure that improved skills and wages are at the heart of a Labour government.
It is vitally important that a Labour government takes on these three areas, because they have so far been neglected by the Coalition government.
Labour will announce that it will build 200, 000 homes a year by 2020 in order to tackle Britain’s housing crisis. Labour is right to point out that the lack of houses is “central” to Britain’s “cost of living crisis.”
House building is an area in which the Coalition has failed. In 2012 the government managed to build only 155, 620 houses, but the Home Builders’ Federation estimates that there needs to be 220, 000 new homes built a year to meet demand.
The think tank Policy Exchange has claimed that, due to the Coalition’s scrapping of regional planning targets in 2010, there are 270, 000 fewer houses planned. Policy Exchange noted that “the coalition could end up presiding over the lowest level of house building since the 1920s.” The housing crisis has led to rents reaching a 11-year high, with the average rent of £779, which is a 11% rise on last year. In London rents have shot up to £1, 465. The housing shortage has an effect on both people who want to buy homes and also those who are renting.
Ed Miliband aims to show that Labour is on the side of small businesses by scrapping a proposed rise in business rates, which Labour says will benefit 1.5 million businesses with annual rents of £50, 000 and less. It would be paid for by reversing a planned cut in corporation tax.
Small businesses have struggled in recent years because banks have been reticent to lend money to small and medium sized businesses. There has also been a marked difference in how small businesses and big businesses have been treated by government. Corporation tax has been cut multiple times by the Coalition, but many small businesses are exempt from it and have instead been faced by rises in rates.
Skills and wages
Tackling Britain’s low wage and high youth unemployment economy is at the centre of Ed Miliband’s vision for Britain. One policy that affects this area is Labour’s aim to boost apprenticeships. Labour plans to ensure that large companies train a new apprentice for every skilled worker hired from outside the UK.
Last month Left Foot Forward covered how David Cameron is the worst Prime Minister in recorded history for living standards. Since he came to power Cameron has overseen 36 months of falling real wages. Workers have endured a drop of £1,350 a year in real terms since 2010. Last month Matthew Whittley wrote about the prevalence of zero hour contracts and how they are symptomatic of “the insecure, low-wage, hand-to-mouth economy that has developed.” It is estimated that there could be up to 1 million workers employed on zero hour contracts.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.