Thursday News Review

Level pegging after 100 days

At a time when it’s tough to get on the employment ladder, kicking away the first step up that was Labour’s future jobs fund at the same time as removing 10,000 university places is callous. It’s also economically illiterate, hiking welfare costs and reducing tax take. Scrapping the schools building programme, ending Labour’s planned expansion of free school meals and taking away free swimming and play areas place our youngest in the cuts front line. The reality that it is ideology driving this government is nowhere more evident than in the wasteful £3bn, top-down reorganisation of the NHS – the age of austerity suspended when there’s a free market to introduce to the NHS. – Peter Hain, The Guardian


'No thanks Nick'

Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband has said he would demand the resignation of Nick Clegg before forming a coalition with the Lib Dems. Mr Miliband told the New Statesman that the deputy prime minister’s support for the government’s spending cuts would make it “pretty hard” to work with him. The comments come after Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes said a coalition with Labour was “still on the agenda”. – The BBC

Banks should pay their way

Miliband [David] proposes to double a 2 billion pound annual tax on banks introduced by the coalition — a move to make banks contribute to reducing the deficit after several of them had to be rescued during the financial crisis. He said this would enable the government to avoid cuts in tax breaks for business investment announced by finance minister George Osborne in an emergency budget in June. “He is imposing a bank levy of 0.07 percent of the (banks’) balance sheet. That is by no means a big hit on the banks,” Miliband said, adding however that Britain needed a strong financial services sector. “If you doubled the bank levy you wouldn’t have to abolish capital allowances for manufacturing,” he said. – Reuters

It’s going to be a cold old winter

Will Cameron "come clean" over winter fuel allowance?

Universal benefits, which were thought to be immune to spending cuts, are under threat after Iain Duncan Smith, the welfare secretary, secured £3bn for his radical plans to overhaul the benefits system. However, the Treasury has asked him to make huge cuts elsewhere in the welfare bill, a task that will hit “middle class” benefits if the coalition stays true to its promise to protect the poorest. David Miliband, the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest, called on the coalition to “come clean” and pointed out that David Cameron had promised not to reduce the winter fuel payment during the election campaign. Labour strategists said they thought the party could “land a blow” on the government by campaigning hard on the issue. – City AM

Labour has condemned government plans to review universal welfare payments such as child benefit and the winter fuel allowance, which could be frozen. Labour leadership candidate David Miliband accused the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government of misleading the public over fuel payments. And shadow work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper said it was a “shocking betrayal of pensioners”. –The BBC

One option being considered is raising the age at which the winter fuel payment is paid. At present anyone aged 60 receives the money, and ministers are in talks over raising this to 66 or even 70. The level of the payment could also be reduced from £250 to £200 per household for the youngest eligible, and from £400 to £300 for the over-80s. Changes to universal benefits are politically incendiary for the Government; during the election campaign David Cameron dismissed as “pure lies” the Labour charge that he was preparing to axe them. – Wales Online

Burnham vs. the world: one vote at a time

Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham insists he is running a “grassroots campaign” which did not need the backing of trade unions or the party establishment. Mr Burnham, who has not attracted any union support, said Labour had become too centralised, with power in the hands of a small elite in London… Shadow health secretary Mr Burnham told BBC Radio 4’s PM: “I’m running a grassroots campaign, I’m not seeking the support of any establishment, be it the media establishment, the union establishment, even the establishment in my own party.  “I’m going straight to the ordinary members of the Labour Party, ordinary trade unionists, up and down the country because I believe we need to rebuild Labour from the bottom up.” – Press Association

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