Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Miliband in living standards pledge

Labour leader Ed Miliband has highlighted the plight of families still struggling to make ends meet in what he called the "biggest cost-of-living crisis in a generation"

Ed Miliband has signalled his determination to keep up the pressure on the Government over the squeeze on living standards, despite growing signs the economy is finally beginning to pick up strength.

In his New Year message, the Labour leader highlighted the plight of families still struggling to make ends meet in what he called the "biggest cost-of-living crisis in a generation".

He sought to counter the increasing optimism of the Conservatives about the state of the economy by accusing them of ignoring the fact that many people were still no better off.

"We are in the midst of the biggest cost-of-living crisis in a generation. Whether it's people being unable to afford the weekly shop or worried about the gas and electric bill - or saying 'I have always thought of myself as reasonably well off but I'm really having trouble making ends meet'," he said.

"People are thinking they have made the sacrifices - and the Government keeps telling them that everything is fixed. But it does not seem fixed to them. Surely we can do better than this as a country.

"The Tories want to change the conversation from the cost of living crisis. They will talk about anything else. Inherent in their vision is not a solution to the cost of living crisis, but the problem."

While his message suggests that Labour have no plans to change their line of attack against the Conservatives, Mr Miliband insisted he was offering a "much more optimistic vision" for the future.

He said the party would use the coming year to show how it would make "big changes" to the economy to enable the country to "earn and grow our way to a higher standard of living for people".

"People do not want the earth. They would much prefer some very specific promises, specific things about what a government will do - whether it's freezing energy bills, taking action on pay day lenders, or tackling issues around childcare which lots of working parents face," he said.

"All of this is adding up to a programme for how we can change things. It's clearly costed, it's credible and it's real."

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