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Miliband attacks top-rate tax cut

Ed Miliband said "eye-boggling" figures showing people on seven-figure salaries will benefit from a £107,000 tax cut next year proved the Government was on the wrong track to fix the economy.

Labour calculates that is the average sum that the 8,000 people earning a million pounds a year or more would benefit by as a result of Chancellor George Osborne's decision in the Budget to cut the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p.

The Labour leader highlighted the figure, based on Treasury calculations, as he pledged to make a fairer share of the proceeds of economic growth one of his party's top priorities in responding to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement on December 5.

He spoke out as he took questions from workers and other local figures at a sheet metal works in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, alongside shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

"Many of the people in this room will have seen their taxes go up over the last year or two," he told them. "But I'm afraid there's one group which is getting a tax cut. It is not you, the working men and women in this room, it is the richest people in society. From next April, the Government will be giving a tax cut of, on average, £107,000 each to 8,000 millionaires in Britain. Those are eye-boggling figures.

"That is at a cost of £800 million and the tax cut as a whole they are doing for the richest in society costs £3 billion. I don't know about you, but when I see all the other priorities that this country has, I think that's the wrong priority.

"They don't seem to understand that growth in this country comes from the hard-working people gathered in this room, not saying 'let's cut the taxes for a few of the richest in society and then hope the wealth trickles down'.

"So what is our objective for the Autumn Statement? It is to say let's secure the recovery, let's make sure we've put the long-term changes in place to make that recovery happen and get strong growth in this country - for example by properly reforming welfare - and let's make sure that the proceeds of economic growth are fairly shared, not unfairly shared as they increasingly seem to be."

Mr Miliband conceded that already under the last Labour government, voters felt the economy was "working for a few people at the top and not for most people". He said: "For us as a party that is the central task we face: showing people that actually they would be better off under a Labour government and that we would run the economy better and stand up for the right people, not the wrong people."

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said they would subject the Autumn Statement to three tests - action to kickstart growth and employment, long-term reforms such as in the banking industry which were being "watered-down", and fairness.

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