Balls: 'Death tax' not on agenda
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has firmly denied Conservative claims that Labour is planning a "death tax" to pay for care of the elderly or a penny on national insurance for the NHS if it wins power.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Balls insisted that he would prefer "all tax rates to be lower", pointing to Labour plans to reintroduce the 10p starting rate of income tax for the lowest earners.
He said approval given by Labour's recent policy forum for plans to stick to government spending proposals in 2015-16, bring in a surplus on the current budget and reduce the national debt in the next parliament, showed "the Labour Party has shown it has grown up on fiscal policy".
Labour was accused of planning a "death tax" after reports that shadow health secretary Andy Burnham had voiced support for a levy on the estates of people to pay for care of the elderly.
Mr Balls said: "The idea of this charge is not on the agenda. It is not Labour policy. It was not only not agreed at our national policy forum, it was not raised or proposed. The Conservative P arty is desperate to put this on our agenda, and it is not on our agenda."
And asked about a rumoured proposal for a 1p national insurance hike for health, Mr Balls responded: " People feel they are paying too much tax already. We have got to get the balance right between balancing the budget and making sure the NHS continues to deliver for people."
Mr Balls also took a tough line on immigration, making clear he would like to see restrictions on EU citizens' rights to move to the UK tightened further.
"We have lots of rules that fetter movement. We think you should toughen up those rules," he said.
"You shouldn't be free to work in Britain and send back tax credits. You shouldn't be free to come to Britain and be unemployed. You shouldn't be free to come to Britain as soon as your country joins the EU.
"There will be people who say ... that freedom of movement is good for the economy. But that is not the consensus of the vast majority ... who don't say either (that we should) shut the borders.
"What I want is fair movement, not free movement. It needs to be fair to people who come and work here and fair to people in this country."