Miliband launches 10 point “cost of living contract”

1st May, 2014 11:52 am

To coincide with the launch of Labour’s Local and European election campaign today, Ed Miliband has launched a “cost of living contract” (as we revealed last night).

Ed Miliband campaign launch

Here it is:

  1. Freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017 and reform the energy market
  2. Get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020
  3. Stop families that rent being ripped off and help them plan for the future with new long term predictable tenancies
  4. Cut income tax for hardworking people through a lower 10p starting tax rate, and introduce a 50p top rate of tax as we pay off the deficit in a fair way
  5. Ban exploitative zero-hour contracts
  6. Make work pay by strengthening the Minimum Wage and providing tax breaks to firms that boost pay through the Living Wage
  7. Back small businesses by cutting business rates and reforming the banks
  8. Help working parents with 25 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds
  9. Tackle the abuse of migrant labour to undercut wages by banning recruitment agencies that only hire foreign workers and pressing for stronger controls in Europe
  10. Back the next generation with a job guarantee for the young unemployed and more apprenticeships

This is our contract with you. Vote Labour to make Britain better off.


And here’s the speech Miliband gave to launch the contract – including his headline rent pledge:

Friends, I am proud to be launching our local and European election campaign here in Redbridge today.

And I want to start by paying tribute to everyone in Redbridge who works so hard for Labour and so hard for this community.

And everyone in the Labour group on Redbridge council, led by the brilliant Jas Atwal. 

And friends, in the next three weeks, I want you to be doing all you can, to help Jas and his team take control of Redbridge council for Labour once again. 

And I know we will also be working so hard in these weeks to help elect our excellent MEP candidates in London, like Claude Moraes. 

And it is great to have with us, Glenis Willmott, the leader of our MEPs.

And I know after these elections, in the general election, we will also be doing our bit to elect our fantastic new candidate for Ilford North, Wes Streeting. 

Friends, I said to you last September what I believe even more strongly now:

Britain can do better than this.

We know the reality:

There is a cost-of-living crisis facing hardworking people here in Redbridge, and right across the country.

A cost-of-living crisis that Britain hasn’t seen for as long as anyone can remember.

The vital link between the wealth of the country as a whole and ordinary family finances has been broken.

People are working harder, for longer, for less.

With a few at the top getting the big rewards.

Insecurity at work for the many.

And the promise of Britain, that the next generation should do better than the last, being broken.

That is the reality that people face.

And it isn’t unique to Britain.

Inequality and the cost-of-living crisis are being felt in countries from America to Australia.

That is why it is our generation’s challenge.

That is why it is the defining issue of our age.

And that’s why, here in Britain, it demands new answers.

Labour answers.

A Labour government.

A government willing to make big changes to ensure that together, we build a new economy and make hardworking Britain better off.

And restore that link between the country’s prosperity and your families’ prosperity.

And, friends, that is what Labour will do.

Of course, to begin to solve this cost-of-living crisis, you first have to recognise it.

And just look at what this government has said about it.

For ages they denied the cost-of-living crisis had even begun.

And now they say the cost-of-living crisis is over.

I hope they try that one on the doorstep here in Redbridge.

Because every time the Tories and the Liberal Democrats deny the reality of what people see in their own pay packets and their own pockets, all they do is demonstrate that they simply don’t understand the depth of the challenge our economy and our country faces.

And why don’t they admit the scale of the crisis?

Because they can never take the action required to solve it. 

They’ll never take on the vested interests.

They’ll never make the big changes.

They really do believe the way Britain succeeds is with a race to the bottom in wages and conditions.

That a few at the top create the wealth and it is enough for them to do well.

While everyone else is left just to take their chances.

That’s why they are not the solution to the cost-of-living crisis, they are part of the problem.

And that’s why at these elections, and the general election, we’re not just faced with a choice between parties and candidates.

But between two totally different visions of how an economy succeeds.

Because I believe that an economy can only grow and prosper for the future when hardworking people are better off, not when they’re struggling just to make ends meet.

And we need a race to the top for high skills and high wages, not a race to the bottom.

And we must have the courage to take on the vested interests.

That is how Britain wins.

And that is what you will be voting for if you vote Labour in these elections. 

You’ll be voting for the one party that has placed the cost-of-living crisis at the very centre of our national debate.

You will be electing Labour MEPs whose priority isn’t leaving the EU, but changing it, so that it can work to raise living standards for hardworking families in Britain.

Labour MEPs who will put growth and jobs at the heart of the European Union.

Labour MEPs who will make sure the European Budget is spent in a way that supports British business.

And Labour MEPs who will insist that the EU helps clamp down on tax avoidance by the largest companies.

Because Labour knows everyone, including the biggest, most powerful companies, should pay their fair share.

And on May 22nd you will also be voting for Labour councillors and Labour local authorities who will make the cost-of-living crisis their priority.

I am proud of how Labour councils have been showing the way, even in the toughest of times.

From Luton to Cardiff to Glasgow, they’ve been changing their communities for the better.

They’ve been:

Taking on the pay-day lenders.

Improving child-care.

And promoting a living wage.

Vote Labour because it is even more true in tough times that people need a Labour voice.

And Britain needs a Labour government.

And today, a year in advance of the general election, I am proud to place our cost of living contract before the people of this country.

Ten ways that a Labour government would make a difference. 

Ten ways that we would tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Ten ways we will grow and earn our way to higher standards of living.

By taking real action:

On wages.

On jobs.

And on prices.

On wages, a Labour government will introduce Make Work Pay contracts.

We will give tax breaks to every employer who moves to offer a Living Wage.

So private companies can join the brilliant Labour councils who have already said no to poverty pay.

Because I believe, and we all know, the Living Wage is an idea whose time has come.

And because we believe hard work should always pay we will introduce a new 10p starting rate of tax.

And at the same time, so we pay down the deficit fairly, we will reverse David Cameron’s millionaires’ tax cut and bring back the 50p top rate of tax.

And we know to protect people’s wages we need to prevent a race to the bottom between local workers and those coming here from abroad.

It won’t help Britain to cut our country off from the rest of the world.

The British people know it is not in our national interest.

It is not who we are.

And a Labour government will never try.

But people do want fair rules.

So that’s what Labour will deliver.

Reforming transitional controls when new countries come into the EU.

Making sure rules on the pay of agency workers’ are enforced to protect workers’ pay.

Stopping the shady gang-masters. 

Stopping recruitment agencies from only hiring workers from overseas.

And working with local authorities to root out the rogue firms who fail to pay the minimum wage.

Tackling the cost-of-living crisis also means action to create the jobs and prosperity of the future.

The 29 million people in work need to know our vision for the kinds of jobs that they are going to be doing.

And how we will create wealth in the future.

And that starts with our young people.

A Labour government will ensure that the forgotten 50 per cent of young people who don’t go to university have what they have a right to expect: proper qualifications, apprenticeships and careers.

And nothing blights the prospect of good careers for young people more than years out of work at the start of their adult lives.

So working with local authorities, Labour will guarantee that there is a job for every young person who has been out of work for more than a year, paid for by taxing the bankers’ bonuses.

The right and the fair choice to get our young people back to work.

And to get the jobs of the future we need to support our small businesses.

Because they will help create so much of the future wealth of our country.

Only a Labour government will make the big changes we need in our banking system and cut and freeze business rates for millions of small businesses. 

Labour the party of small business in Britain.

And to tackle the cost-of-living crisis we need a high employment economy.

So we have to make it possible for mums and dads to go out to work.

For so many families, the cost-of-living crisis means they cannot balance work and family life.

Labour local authorities have done so much to protect child care in these difficult times.

And the next Labour government will go further.

We will work with them to offer 25 hours free childcare for all working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.

And our country will only create the good jobs of the future with fairness at work, not exploitation at work.

Yesterday, we learned that 1.4 million people are now on zero-hours contracts in this country.

And none of the other parties have anything to say about this epidemic of insecurity.

A Labour government will act.

We will ban the abuse of zero-hours contracts.

We will legislate so that if you do regular hours, you get a regular contract not a zero-hours contract.

And on prices, we can only tackle the cost-of-living crisis if we take on the vested interests.

That’s what is driving prices too high, ripping people off, holding our country back. 

And we have to help the businesses and families at the sharp end.

So a Labour government will freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017.

And take on the Big Six energy companies.

To make sure the rip offs never happen again. 

And it’s time too that we had a government that faced up to one of the biggest causes of the cost-of-living crisis in our country.

The price of renting or buying a home.

It used to be an essential part of what the British people expected from life.

Find a job, work hard, get a home of your own.

Start a family.

And then when your kids grew up, see them get on the housing ladder too.

Nothing is more fundamental than that.

But for millions of hardworking people in Britain today it’s just not like that anymore.

People simply can’t afford it.

They’re priced out. 

They’re saving year after year, decade after decade, for a deposit.

Having to look for somewhere to live further and further away from where they go to work or where the kids have always gone to school.

So we will act.

We will build the next generation of new towns and garden cities.

Enable local authorities to expand when they want to.

We will stop firms hoarding land rather than building on it. 

And a Labour government will make sure that by the end of the next Parliament, for the first time for a generation, Britain will be building 200,000 homes a year.

And we will take action on behalf of those who rent their homes in this country too.

I am proud that Labour has already committed to abolishing the iniquitous, unfair, bedroom tax.

But 9 million people are living today in rented homes in the private sector.

So many young people just starting out in life.

Over a million families with more than two million children renting their homes.

They need a fairer deal. 

Some great Labour local authorities have been taking the lead with a register of landlords to drive up standards.

And a Labour government will support these local authorities by legislating for a national register too.

But we must do more.

When you’re buying a home, the estate agent doesn’t charge you fees.

But those who rent are given no such protection.

They get charged up to £500 just for signing a tenancy agreement.

Even if the letting agents are charging the landlord for the same thing too.

A Labour government will ban letting agents from charging tenants.

And we will deal too with the terrible insecurity of Britain’s private rental market.

Nearly 20 years ago, the last Tory government legislated to make short-term tenancies the standard in Britain.

As a result, it is so hard to find tenancies today longer than one year.

Even as those who rent has rocketed in number and changed in character.

With many more families renting their homes.

Six months security is no basis to plan your life.

With families at risk of being thrown out with two months notice for no reason.

With some even told to accept huge rent rises or face eviction.

The insecurity and instability of the private rental market is:

Bad for tenants.

Bad for families.

And even bad for landlords.

We must act.

Most other countries don’t work like this.

They have longer tenancies which provide greater protection.

With protections too for landlords who need to return to live in their properties or sell them.

Today I can announce, if we win the general election, we will legislate to make three year tenancies, not short-term tenancies, the standard for those who rent their homes in the private sector.

Giving people who rent the greater certainty they need.

And we’ll act on unpredictable rent rises too.

Because these new longer-term tenancies will limit the amount by which rents can rise each year.

So landlords know what they can expect.

And tenants won’t face the shock of rents that go through the roof.

So it will be cheaper to find a home to rent as we ban charges for tenants.

There will be greater security with three-year tenancies.

And we will tackle the cost-of-living crisis by putting a ceiling on excessive rent rises.

Generation rent is a generation left ignored and insecure for too long.

Not under the next Labour government.

Long-term tenancies and stable rents.

A better deal for those just starting out.

So that families can settle down.

Know where the kids will go to school.

Know their home will still be there for them tomorrow.

Because I say: hardworking Britain deserves nothing less.

Friends, in a few weeks’ time people will be going out to vote.

I want you to tell them, we understand their discontent with the ways things are right now.

Explain to them, what I’ve talked to you about today:

The way we understand the inequality of our country and the cost-of-living crisis.

And the problems about who our country is run for.

And then give them hope.

Tell them, they should test every party by the practical steps they would take to tackle this crisis.

And tell them there is a Labour vision of a better Britain. 

A Britain where everyone who works hard knows they can get ahead.

A Britain where there are jobs and opportunities for our young people.

A Britain where prosperity isn’t hoarded by just a few people at the top.

A Britain where every hardworking family can be secure in a home of their own.

A Britain where we tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Hardworking Britain better off.

That’s what this election is about for Labour.

That’s what we can achieve together.

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  • PoundInYourPocket

    Ed, here’s you mark’s out of 10.

    Freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017 and reform the energy market.
    0/10 : they’ll freeze at hihgher prices
    Get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020
    1/10 : average home buiding rate since 1983 is approx 200,000
    Stop families that rent being ripped off and help them plan for the future with new long term predictable tenancies
    1/10 : too many opt-outs
    Cut income tax for hardworking people through a lower 10p starting tax rate, and introduce a 50p top rate of tax as we pay off the deficit in a fair way
    7/10 : well done
    Ban exploitative zero-hour contracts
    2/10 : modest improvement
    Make work pay by strengthening the Minimum Wage and providing tax breaks to firms that boost pay through the Living Wage
    2/10 : ill-defined, possibly unworkable
    Back small businesses by cutting business rates and reforming the banks
    0/10 : where’s the detail ?
    Help working parents with 25 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds
    7/10 : sounds good , details ?
    Tackle the abuse of migrant labour to undercut wages by banning recruitment agencies that only hire foreign workers and pressing for stronger controls in Europe
    7/10 : sounds good , details ?
    Back the next generation with a job guarantee for the young unemployed and more apprenticeships
    0/10 : more “bonded labour” IDS “Workfare”

    Don’t give up Ed , your better than that oily little rascal at the back of the class.

    • Simon Harrison

      Make work pay by strengthening the Minimum Wage and providing tax breaks to firms that boost pay through the Living Wage
      2/10 : ill-defined, possibly unworkable as what is a “Living wage” ?

      Presumably a living wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation

  • James_se15

    You can’t “pay off” a deficit. You can reduce a deficit or even generate a surplus thereby paying off a debt. Makes me question the economic literacy of Ed and his speech writers.

    • Steve Stubbs

      You think him and Balls have ever had any economic literacy?


      Note also he didn’t mention that one of the main drivers of energy cost increases has been the green taxes put in place by that nasty Osborne – hang on, no it was not Osborne, it was that nasty Milliband. Must have been his brother then …… No pledge to reduce them then?

  • toptophat

    Who pays the difference when energy suppliers bang up the prices on the international market though?

    • JoeDM

      The lights will go out !

    • Brumanuensis

      Much as I have a certain dislike of major energy companies, they can’t normally manipulate prices at will in the way you describe.

      • toptophat

        So, Gazprom can’t put up the price of it’s gas for example?
        You think?

        • Brumanuensis

          Gazprom can put up the price of its gas, but it runs the risk of losing market share to competitors. There is a global gas glu at the moment, meaning that Gazprom’s leverage is relatively limited. Remember, if you push prices too high you risk discouraging people from buying off you.

          • toptophat

            But as production costs rise, all producers will put up their prices.
            And of course there is no risk of, say OPEC deciding on an export embargo leading to a quadrupling of oil prices in less than a year – that could never happen, could it?
            Oh, wait…

          • Brumanuensis

            But as production costs rise, all producers will put up their prices.

            Potentially, but that’s a different issue from political manipulation of prices.

            And of course there is no risk of, say OPEC deciding on an export embargo leading to a quadrupling of oil prices in less than a year – that could never happen, could it?
            Oh, wait…

            It would be extremely foolish of them, given that the recessionary effects would result in oil prices falling and thereby reducing their revenues.

  • Daniel Speight

    He does manage to use the word “inequality” twice, so he’s getting better.

  • treborc1

    Here is Blair take on it..

    We are a national party, supported today by people from all walks of life, from the
    successful businessman or woman to the pensioner on a council estate. Young people have
    flooded in to join us in what is the fastest growing youth section of any political party
    in the western world.

    Miliband take on it.

    Hard working people, the rest can F off.

  • Franklin_Delano_Roosevelt

    The Scandinavian countries have the solution. They have trade surpluses, very low national debts, slightly higher gdp per capita, and higher income equality.

  • MonkeyBot5000

    This is our contract with you.

    If you call this a ‘contract’ and don’t live up to it, I’m going down to the constituency office with a dictionary and a cricket bat to explain what the word means.

    • Brumanuensis

      I request permission to join you on your hypothetical future expedition.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      Tickets only please as there’ll be a long queue…

  • EricBC

    So how many houses is it planned to build in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019?

    • toptophat

      Hmm, according to ‘Live table 208, house building: permanent dwellings started…’ on the .gov website the figures (UK, all construction) are –

      2011-12 134,030 started,

      2012-13 127,680 started

      A fall of 6350 on the previous year…

      And people wonder why I don’t trust statistics. Or the BBC.

      According to Salford Uni ‘142430/076-Smith.pdf’ there are 26 million homes in the UK so even building 200 000 homes a year the replacement rate is about 130 years.
      My places is 100 years old, and might well make another 30 with luck, but frankly, they don’t make em like they used to. Plus it has no cavity walls, 9′ ceilings and is an absolute pain to keep warm.
      What chance your average ticky-tacky ‘Barrett’ lasting 130 years? And still being inhabitable

      • toptophat

        Just noticed, out of interest, from 1997 to 2010, the number of local authority homes started fell from 1800 a year to just 860 a year…
        just saying

        • toptophat

          No one wants a go on this one?

      • Brumanuensis

        You wonder why people don’t trust statistics and yet quote statistics to prove that point?

        But actually – miracles do happen – I actually agree with most of your post, especially the bit about Barrett houses. My late grandmother’s old home was built in the 1930s. Most of the fittings – including the curtain rails for some reason – are still in good order. You can’t say the same about today’s IKEA stuff.

        • toptophat

          Hmm, maybe I quoted the two sets of statistics allegedly from reliable sources reporting the same information, but giving different results, to show that statistics are not facts?
          By giving a factual example, rather than just making stuff up or stating an opinion as a fact, like some who post here?

          • PeterBarnard

            But the two sets of statistics weren’t reporting the same information : EricBC’s comment referred to a calendar year, and your comment referred to a (presumably) fiscal year.

            Given that distinction, the two sets of figures could well be compatible.

          • toptophat

            Well, I compared them based on the governments own information, I don’t know where the BBC got theirs from, why don’t you have a look for yourself?

          • PeterBarnard

            The BBC report links through to the DCLG website; specifically to a report “House building December quarter 2013,” and the 122,590 figure refers to housing starts in calendar 2013 in England.

            The table and the figure that you refer to (127,680) is (i) for the fiscal period, and, more importantly, (ii) refers to the United Kingdom.

            I suggest that you take some lessons in how to compare like with like, before you start slagging off “statistics.”


          • toptophat

            If I may quote the OP –
            “122,590 homes were started in 2013. Labour is promising 200,000 starts in 2020. If we maintain this number of starts -122,000 then from 2016 to 2020 the Lab Gov’t will have maintain an increase of around 14% per year.

            The 2013 figure of 122,590 is (we are told by the BBC) ‘a rise of 23% on the previous year.’
            According to Live Table 208 on the .gov/statistical data site
            2012-13 127,680 houses started in the UK
            2012-13 101,670 houses started in England
            2011-12 134,030 houses started in the UK
            2011-12109,570 houses started in England
            So we know
            1 Government departments produce and use incompatible data sets
            2 House building in both the UK as a whole, and also in England, actually fell over a measured year, using the same matched data sets – rather than the ‘rise of 23%’ according to the BBC report, as recounted by the OP
            4 Even building 200,000 homes a year is unlikely to make a large difference given a 130 year replacement rate (assuming no demolition presumably?)
            5 ‘Someone’ is a ‘plonker’
            Did you ever actually study stats and statistical analysis yourself?

          • Brumanuensis

            How do you know that the statistics were comparing the same thing? Different databases may use different definitions. You need to ascertain whether or not a like-for-like comparison is being made, before deciding to chuck out all statistics.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      house building was above 200,000 houses per year in 2004/5/6/7.
      So no great feat to try and get back to almost where we were before.

  • Brumanuensis

    It’s a bit annoying to see the rent proposals described as ‘rent control’. They are not. They are ‘rent stabilisation’ proposals. There is an important conceptual difference, because rather than trying to sustain rent levels across tenancies, rent stabilisation – a la Germany or Ireland, as described by David Lammy here ( ) – aims at working alongside, rather than against, market rental trends whilst mitigating increases. The measures for more security for tenants are excellent too.

    But of course, as Lammy notes, we will need supply expansion too. Rent stabilisation on its own will not solve the problem. But I am very happy with today’s announcement nonetheless.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      Suprised your pleased by this. It just seems to me like window dressing rather than useful policy. In terms of rent control the policy contains the immortal phrase :
      “Rents could still be reviewed upwards, downwards or stay the same, subject to market conditions.”
      That doesn’t sound like rent control – although I’m not advocating rent control anyway. In terms of security of tenure this policy is as ever full of holes. The landlord can just claim claim he needs the property for other use / repairs and turf you out.
      The only solution is to build houses, and much more than the proposed 200,000 per year. But the first task is to realise that people should be allowed to live in equal splendour to any other farm animal. I think there needs to be a home exchange between our beloved beasts and ourselves. Frankly, the sheep can live where I live and I’ll live where they live. It’s time to start building on all that pristine Green Belt. There’s nothing sacrosanct about a field full of sheep dung. We need to extract permissions from the land owners and take possession of our own birthright. Build build build. Why is land so expensive? Why are we so poor ? It’s always been about LAND.

      • Brumanuensis

        I don’t agree with building willy-nilly on the Green Belt, although I’m open to the idea of relaxing constraints on a case-by-case basis – although existing legislation does already permit this. Having read Monbiot’s “Feral” recently, I’ve no love for sheep however.

        As far as the proposals go, I think it’s a good start. The principles seem reasonable and I think it strikes the right balance in terms of increasing security for tenants whilst not discouraging landlords from letting. All policies have holes; it’s just a question of making sure they’re sufficiently small. And as a middle-of-the road social democrat, I’m open to pragmatic incrementalism – or Fabianism as it was once called.

        • PoundInYourPocket

          As a yorkshire lad I do love sheep. But I think the time has come to ask serious questions about the price of houses and land. Since this is the major cost in most peoples lives. If we could return to 1990 house prices it would reduce wage pressure and make UK exports more competetive. The only reason for such high prices is the cost of land, driven by planning restrictions. Despite my love of sheep (unrequited) it must be time to put our needs ahead of theirs. We need to release it for building. Otherwise we will have overcrowded and unaffordalbe urban housing in an ocean of underpopulated and underused CAP subsidised sheep pastures.
          Also – I didn’t realise Sidney and Beatrice were incrementalists. I thought they were the original Labour radicals, unlike the present lot.

  • Steve Stubbs

    Can anyone tell me where this ‘free childcare’ come from? There is no such thing as a free lunch – someone somewhere is paying for it. Ed is quite happy to promise 25 hours free childcare – please tell us (precisely) how it is to be funded.

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