Tories keen to cut tax for rich again, says Ed Balls

Ed Balls

The Conservatives are "champing at the bit" to cut the top rate of tax for Britain's wealthiest people further to 40p in the pound, Ed Balls will say in a speech in the marginal constituency of Bedford on Wednesday.

The shadow chancellor will argue that the Conservatives' real agenda is to return to power in order to cut taxes for the richest.

"We know the Tories' real economic plan – it's to cut taxes at the top and hope that wealth will just trickle down," he will say. "Having already cut taxes for millionaires in this parliament, they're champing at the bit to do it again if they win the election – cutting the top rate of tax for people earning over £150,000 again, from 45p to 40p. Another tax cut worth £3bn for the richest 1% of our country.

"We know George Osborne wanted to cut it down to 40p in his omnishambles budget two years ago. David Cameron won't rule out doing it. And Boris Johnson and the right are now demanding it. This is the real Tory agenda for a second term. The same old Tories standing up for the few, while everyone else is left behind. And it shows just how much is at stake next year."

Balls will set out figures from the House of Commons library showing that there will have been the biggest squeeze in income since the 1874-1880 parliament of the Tory prime minister Benjamin Disraeli. He will claim it is the first parliament since the 1920s in which real earnings have been lower at the end than at the beginning.

The economy is not fixed and most people are worse off under the Conservatives, he will say, pointing out that average wages after inflation are down by more than £1,600 since 2010. "From a Conservative-led government that promised to make working people better off back in 2010, this is a dismal record of failure," he will say.

Listing the risks of a Conservative government to the economy, Balls will say the Tories would offer more depressed wages, no proper industrial strategy and flirtation with exit from the European Union.

In contrast, Labour would balance the books in a fairer way while freezing energy bills, introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, increasing the minimum wage and offering tax breaks to firms that pay the living wage.

"This is the stark choice we face next year," he will say. "A choice between a Labour plan to make Britain better off and fairer for the future – with rising living standards for the many, not just a few at the top – or more of the same from the same old Tories."

Balls's speech is the latest in a series from Labour on the theme of choice, highlighting the party's differences with the Tories. Ed Miliband contrasted his dislike of image-based politics with David Cameron's career based on photo opportunities; Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, attacked the government for turning its back on domestic violence; and Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, called for a ban on further privatisation of the NHS.

Their speeches are designed to counter accusations last year that Labour left a political vacuum in the summer, allowing criticism of Miliband to fester among some backbenchers. It is also marks an intensification of political attacks on the Conservatives with less than a year to go to the election.

Balls will make his speech as Cameron embarks on a tour of the north-west to meet recipients of startup loans and announce an increase in funding. The prime minster will say: "As part of our long-term economic plan, we are backing business and ensuring our budding entrepreneurs get the finance and support they need to kickstart and grow their businesses."

He will claim that the Conservatives are providing "more opportunities for people to break out on their own and be their own boss, and more prosperity and economic security for us all".

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for The Guardian on Wednesday 30th July 2014 00.04 Europe/London

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