A future Labour government would extend the coalition’s cap on child benefit rises for a further year, shadow chancellor Ed Balls says.

Despite criticising a number of the coalition government’s benefit cuts, Ed Balls will announce Labour’s pledge to extend the coalition’s 1% cap on child benefit rises up until 2017, in a speech at the party’s conference in Manchester on Monday.

Labour is keen to show voters that they are willing to take tough decisions on balancing the nations finances. But extending the cap will mean a real-terms cut in the value of child benefit and risks a potential backlash from women voters.

Reiterating Labour’s intention to continue with the austerity agenda, Ed Balls will say that “Labour will get the deficit down” but it “will mean cuts and tough decisions”. Words which sound eerily familiar to those used by David Cameron prior to the 2010 general election.

Ed Balls will argue that Labour will not be able to reverse many of the government’s cuts and will likely introduce more of their own.

He will claim that Labour would continue the austerity agenda in a “fairer” way, by increasing the top rate of income tax to 50p and introducing a levy on homes valued at over £2 million.

A move which appears to be reaching out to the Liberal Democrats ahead of the 2015 general election, who have repeatedly called on their coalition allies to adopt and introduce a ‘mansion tax’.

He will add: “We will have to make other decisions which I know will not be popular with everyone.

“I want to see child benefit rising again in line with inflation in the next parliament, but we will not spend money we cannot afford.

“So for the first two years of the next parliament, we will cap the rise in child benefit at 1%. It will save £400m in the next Parliament. And all the savings will go towards reducing the deficit.”

Ed Balls will also announce Labour’s plan to “stop paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest 5% of pensioners” and a mandatory 5% pay cut for MPs.



BBC NewsThe Guardian – The Independent (other sources may also be available)