Ed Miliband plans new industrial policy to boost economy outside London


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Indy Politics

Moves to boost the economy of towns and cities outside London by allowing them to keep billions of pounds collected from local businesses will be set out tomorrow by Ed Miliband.

The Labour leader will detail plans for a new industrial policy which spreads prosperity away from the south-east of England.

The proposals are designed to reverse a century of centralisation and tackle “chronic regional imbalances” between different parts of the UK.

They come amid internal criticism of the party’s failure to embrace radical ideas, as well as accusations that it is hostile to business and industry.

An incoming Labour Government has committed itself to devolving more than £30bn over five years to “economic powerhouses” outside the capital to spend on housing, transport and developing skills.

Mr Miliband will offer a further financial “carrot” to authorities in urban and county areas which group together to draw up growth plans.

They will be allowed to retain any extra cash raised from business rates to spend on local projects.

The Labour leader will say that four fifths of new private jobs since 2010 have been created in London and warn: “That is not good enough.”

He will say: “If we are to create the wealth of the future and solve the cost-of-living crisis, we must help create high-quality private sector jobs not just in one part of Britain, but every part of Britain.”

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls meanwhile promised that a Labour Government would cut and then freeze business rates. But he said he did not support further cuts in rates of corporation tax.

The leader of Unite, Britain’s biggest union, today said it would not abandon Labour to fight next year’s general election with “one hand tied behind its back” through lack of funds.

Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary who has been critical of Mr Miliband’s leadership, said the union would ensure the election was not “financially lopsided”.

He told Unite's national conference in Liverpool that the union stood fully behind Labour and Mr Miliband’s “increasingly radical” agenda.

Tory chairman Grant Shapps, said: “It’s the same old Labour - dominated by unions who want more spending, more borrowing and more taxes.”