As George Eaton reports, the first page of Labour’s manifesto is dedicated to fiscal responsibility. This focus on protecting the nation’s finances translates into some new pledges from the party on improving family finances.
This is what they are proposing:
• Raising the minimum wage to more than £8 by October 2019 – accelerating increases to guarantee they reach this level before the end of the next parliament. Although we already knew Labour would be raising the minimum wage, this deadline is new, and closer than previously proposed.
• Helping train passengers and commuters with a fully-funded fare freeze. This will be a little overshadowed by David Cameron’s announcement a few days ago that he would freeze regulated rail fares, but in terms of freezing things in general, Labour is way ahead.
• Supporting the squeezed middle with a firm commitment not to raise the basic or higher rate of income tax, National Insurance or VAT.
Labour has already traded pledges with the Tories not to raise VAT or National Insurance (remember when Ed Miliband was thrown off by Cameron’s surprise promise at PMQs not to raise VAT?). But a promise not to raise the basic or higher rate of income tax is a new one (Labour will only be restoring the top rate back up to 50p).
• Protecting tax credits in the next parliament, to back working families. A clear dividing line with the Tories, who will freeze tax credits along with other benefits to cut the welfare budget. This also allows Labour to say it is doing more to protect the interests of the Tories’ beloved “hardworking families” than Cameron and co are.
• Introducing a new National Primary Childcare Service to help working parents. This is a service that will work with primary schools with the intention that “wrap-around childcare will be there for every working parent that wants it”. Something that will play well with parents, especially women voters, who already significantly favour Labour.