Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Miliband's Praise for North East 'Heroes'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Miliband's Praise for North East 'Heroes'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political reporter

ALABOUR Government would freeze fuel-bills until 2017 saving the typical household PS120 a year, Ed Miliband has announced in a crowdpleasing speech to activists. It was one of a series of eyecatching measures announced or confirmed in the Labour leader's speech at his annual conference in Brighton.

Mr Miliband said: "Your bills will be frozen, benefitting millions of families and millions of businesses.

That's what I mean by a government that fights for you."

He also set out plans to build 200,000 new homes a year - and told developers sitting on land that it could be seized if they refused to get building.

It follows concern that developers are sitting on land for thousands of homes in the North East which have already received planning permission - but which they are refusing to build on until property prices rise.

The Local Government Association said earlier this year that construction sites with planning permission for more than 6,000 homes in the North East could be standing idle.

The Labour leader also con-firmed plans announced earlier in the week to provide 25 hours a week of free childcare for children aged three or four in families where every parent works.

He announced a cut in business rates which is expected to save 1.5 million small businesses PS450 on average over two years - paid for by reversing Government plans to cut corporation tax for 80,000 of the nation's biggest companies.

Mr Miliband highlighted plans to increase the minimum wage - and he pledged to scrap cuts in housing benefit which critics call a bedroom tax.

The speech built on Labour's claim that the nation faced a "cost of living crisis" thanks to rising costs, including fuel bills, and wages which have fallen in real terms.

And it answered critics who had accused the Labour leader of failing to articulate what a Labour government would actually do to help struggling households.

Speaking for more than an hour without notes, Mr Miliband referred to "One Nation" Labour and pledged to lead a "One Nation" government, continuing the rebranding of the Labour Party which he began in his conference speech a year ago, when he claimed the mantle of Victorian-era Tory Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, known as the father of One Nation Conservatism. …

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