Miliband admits benefit failures
Ed Miliband has admitted the Labour government did not do enough to rein in the benefits bill as he promised to cap spending.
Mr Miliband said the public's faith in the welfare system had been "shaken", and pledged to tackle underlying problems by cutting housing costs, boosting wages and making people contribute more before becoming eligible for jobseeker's allowance.
Parents in workless households should also be obliged to attend Jobcentre interviews and undertake training in return for the free nursery education their children receive, he added.
The intervention, in a keynote speech in Newham, east London, came as the Labour leadership seeks to counter Tory criticism that it is the party of welfare, rather than work. Earlier this week shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the party would stick to the coalition's 2015/16 departmental budgets if it wins the next general election and announced that wealthier pensioners would be stripped of winter fuel payments.
Mr Miliband effectively ruled out reversing the coalition's child benefit cuts for high earners, saying other priorities would come first. He warned that the country's finances were likely to be in a dire state in 2015, and Labour would need to have a "laser focus" on how each pound was spent.
He said voters would have a stark choice between the Labour and Conservative approaches. He said: "We will tackle the deep, long-term causes of social security spending and tackle the costs of failure, like housing benefit. They will not."
Mr Miliband said that while he believes a minority who should work do not, Prime Minister David Cameron regards anyone looking for work as a "skiver".
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith dismissed Mr Miliband's speech as "vacuous". He said: "Having got us into this mess, today's speech told us nothing about how he would get us out."
Mr Duncan Smith said Labour had been billing Thursday' s speech as Mr Miliband's "big moment", and added: "If this is his big moment, God help us when he has a small moment."
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said: "Ed Miliband's speech offers hope that there is an alternative to George Osborne's punishing experiment with the national economy."