Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 29 January 2015

Labour pledges value for money

Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah on the campaign trail in Cowdenbeath
Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah on the campaign trail in Cowdenbeath

Labour is to fight the General Election on a manifesto pledging better value for public money but devoid of big new spending commitments.

Given the dire state of the public finances, there is no room for expensive pre-election sweeteners.

The Prime Minister is staking Labour's claim to a fourth consecutive term principally on securing the economic recovery.

Ahead of Labour's manifesto launch on Monday, the party said its proposals would be "ambitious but affordable".

One of its major themes will be support for first-time homebuyers, including a new initiative to help low income families get on the housing ladder. But there will be no big spending announcements to vie with the Tories' recent proposals on national insurance and marriage tax breaks, which so far dominated the election debate.

Mr Brown made a point of rejecting the "pyrotechnics" of Conservative leader David Cameron's well-funded campaign.

Reporters travelling with Mr Brown on the campaign trail were told the manifesto will set out "a determination for every penny to be used wisely" and for frontline public services to be protected.

The manifesto, to be unveiled in the West Midlands tomorrow, will promise more value-for-money government in the future in response to the more difficult times. As well as rebuilding the economy and investing in "future growth and jobs", it will talk about strengthening communities and keeping up improvements to public services.

In the aftermath of the MPs' expenses scandal that disgraced the outgoing parliament, the manifesto will promise greater transparency and accountability in politics. But, as well as building on the Government's work since 1997, it will also acknowledge the need to learn lessons from its experience over that time.

Gordon Brown will be promoting the Government's support for homebuyers, including the suspension of stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties under £250,000. The Prime Minister will be visiting a property purchased as part of the Government's HomeBuy Direct scheme, which aims to help first-time buyers earning less than £60,000 a year between them. A new "part-buy" initiative for first-buyers will be featured in the manifesto.

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