Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Labour to target 'privileged few'

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves

People earning £60,000 a year might not feel "particularly rich" and should not be targeted by tax increases, shadow Treasury chief secretary Rachel Reeves has said.

She insisted Labour had "no plans or desire" to increase taxes for people in that income bracket, but instead the focus would be on the "privileged few" at the very top of the income scale.

Ms Reeves, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, also indicated a Labour government would ensure that the national minimum wage would rise to keep pace with prices and average earnings as the party looks set to put cost of living issues at the centre of its election campaign.

Ms Reeves told The Daily Telegraph: "I'm not going to make promises about individual tax rates, but we've shown which side we're on. Our manifesto will reflect those priorities."

But she added: "The focus should be on a privileged few right at the top, and that's not people earning £50,000 or £60,000 a year. If you're a single-earner family in the South East on (that income), you don't feel particularly rich, and you'd be aggrieved that people earning between £150,000 and £1 million are getting a tax cut.

"We don't have any plans or desire to increase tax on people in that band of income."

The Liberal Democrats were forced to play down suggestions that people earning more than £50,000 would be "clobbered" with tax rises after a briefing to MPs during their party conference suggested the figure.

Enforcing the minimum wage and ensuring it rises in line with the cost of living look set to be part of the party's election pitch to voters, Ms Reeves indicated.

"If it had kept pace with the FTSE 100 top pay, it would be worth almost £19 an hour," she said. "Making sure that it keeps pace with prices and average earnings will be part of our offer at the next election."

There will be "more prosecutions" and "employers need to know they can't get away with paying less than the minimum wage", she added.

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