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Labour to pledge no increase in VAT

Ed Balls Credit: PA Wire

Labour will not increase the rate of VAT if the party is elected in May, Ed Balls is expected to say.

The shadow chancellor is expected to make the pledge in a speech in Birmingham.

During the speech, Mr Balls will renew warnings of a repeat of Chancellor George Osborne's increase in VAT - from 17.5% to 20% - immediately after the 2010 general election.

Mr Balls will say: "We will make our tax commitments in full in our manifesto. But I am clear that while millionaires have been given a huge tax cut, working people are paying more in tax after the last five years of the Tories.

"So today I can announce a clear pledge to the British people. The next Labour government will not raise VAT. And we will not extend it to food, children's clothes, books, newspapers and public transport fares.

"We will not raise VAT because it's the tax that hits everyone. It's the tax that hits you every day. And it hits pensioners and the poorest hardest."

Balls: Public service cuts 'quite a chilling prospect'

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has told Good Morning Britain that cuts in public services are "quite a chilling prospect" following George Osborne's final pre-election Budget.

Describing the Chancellor's Budget as "out of touch", Balls said, "This idea that it is going well for people I just don't think fits with our lives."

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls speaks to Good Morning Britain. Credit: ITV/Good Morning Britain

"Don't forget, a few years ago George Osborne said he was going to balance the books ... and he's failed," Balls said.

"it doesn't have to be this way. We could have had a better Budget for working people that boosted wages and got the economy growing in a more sustainable way - he didn't do any of those things".

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Poll shows majority of voters against SNP coalition

A large majority of voters would not want a coalition government involving the SNP, according to the latest poll from Tory peer Lord Ashcroft.

Some 61% of those polled said they would be unhappy at the prospect compared to 31% who said they would welcome a coalition involving the Scottish nationalists.

The poll also found 57% of voters to be against UKIP taking part in government in comparison to 36% who would be happy for them to participate.

The telephone poll of 1,003 adults gave Conservatives a four-point lead over Labour, 34% to 30%.

Alexander: Lib Dems are Britain's 'rock of financial stability'

Only the Liberal Democrats can provide the financial stability Britain needs, the party's finance chief has claimed.

Speaking as shadow chancellor, Ed Balls slammed the Tories' budget plans, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

Both Labour and the Conservatives are saying they will lurch away from the centre ground. Labour will borrow too much and the Conservatives will cut too much.

The Liberal Democrats have been the rock of financial stability during this recovery.

We are the only party offering a fair and balanced approach to finishing the job of balancing the books by 2017/18.

And we are the only party that has a plan after that point that will allow the investment in our infrastructure and public services needed to build a stronger economy and fairer society.

– Danny Alexander (Lib Dem), Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Balls: Coalition with SNP is 'last thing' Labour wants

A coalition with the Scottish National Party (SNP) is the "last thing" Labour wants, according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.

ITV News' political correspondent Libby Wiener tweeted:

While Mr Balls avoided "categorically" ruling it out, he said the party would not be fighting the election on the basis of forming a coalition.

The SNP have said they don't want a coalition. It's not part of our plans. We don't want one, we don't need one, we're not after one.

No large party in the last 100 years - Labour or Conservative - has ever fought a general election on the basis they wanted a coalition or deal with a small party. It's the last thing we want. What we want is a majority Labour government.

– Ed Balls, shadow chancellor

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Balls: Tory cuts 'will take Britain back to 17th Century'

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has accused the Tories of planning budget cuts which would take Britain "back to the 17th Century".

ITV News' political correspondent Libby Wiener tweeted:

Balls: Cuts are 'larger than any time in post-war history'

The Opposition analysis indicates Tory plans could mean the equivalent of 260,000 fewer older people receiving social care and the loss of 30,000 police officers.

The scale of these cuts is unprecedented. The analysis we are publishing today shows Tory plans mean spending cuts larger in the next four years than in the last five years. We are not even half way through the cuts the Tories are planning.

Spending cuts which are larger than any time in post-war history - a bigger fall in spending as a share of GDP in any four year period since demobilisation at the end of the Second World War.

– Ed Balls

Mr Balls will claim Labour will offer a "tough, but balanced and fair plan" to improve living standards while getting the deficit down, while the Tories will "cause huge damage to our vital public services".

Ed Balls warns of Osborne's 'extreme and risky cuts'

Ed Balls is to claim austerity measures planned under George Osborne will mean "extreme, risky and unprecedented" cuts to policing and social care.

Ed Balls warns of Osborne's 'extreme and risky cuts'. Credit: PA

The shadow chancellor will say that, if the Tories remain in power, the next four years will see deeper cuts than those implemented since 2010. Ahead of next week's Budget, Mr Balls will warn the Chancellor's plans involve spending cuts "larger than any time in post-war history".

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts indicating a £23 billion surplus in 2019-20 would require a Tory administration to make deep cuts in areas of unprotected spending, Mr Balls will say.

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