The Labour leader Ed Miliband travelled to the West Midlands to set out his economic plan, which focused on offering tens of thousands of new apprenticeships. But his big announcement was partly overshadowed by a small one from his shadow Chancellor. Ed Balls - said people should always get a receipt for cash transactions. That prompted the Tories to claim that Labour is out of touch.
ITV News political editor Tom Bradby reports:
Labour promised to guarantee apprenticeships for school leavers if they win the General Election as leader Ed Miliband launched his campaign to woo business today.
But at a time when Labour is trying to gain support from business leaders, the party was also criticised for "failing to understand" small business after a row about cash-in-hand receipts.
ITV News Political Correspondent Lewis Vaughan Jones reports.
Ed Miliband said British politicians had failed to recognise "the most important economic idea of the 21st century" - that wealth does not always trickle down "from a few at the top".
Ed Miliband has warned that the Tory "long-term economic plan" is working for a "handful" of people at the top, while his rival vision would champion the needs of working families.
The Labour leader said:
Nothing more symbolises the current Government's failing plan than seeing the tax gap - between what should be paid and the revenue received - widening, while the number of apprenticeships available for young people is falling.
He said just one in 10 employers in England offers an apprenticeship and there are "six times fewer high quality apprenticeships than in Germany".
It is time to match the aspirations of our young people with the high quality apprenticeships they deserve. So today I can announce: under the next Labour government, if you get the grades at 18, you will be guaranteed an apprenticeship.
Labour would guarantee apprenticeships to every school leaver in the UK by 2020, providing they get the required grades, Ed Miliband said as he laid out his plans for the economy today.
Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to announce plans to outlaw zero-hour contracts and raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour in a speech today.
In a speech at Jaguar Land Rover in Birmingham, Mr Miliband is set to outline his party's proposals to boost business.
The plans include:
- Cutting business rates
- Improving training and apprenticeships
- Banning exploitative zero hours contracts
- Raising the National Minimum Wage closer to average earnings - £8 an hour by 2020
- Offering tax breaks to employers who adopt the Living Wage
- Making it illegal to undercut by exploiting migrant workers
Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to unveil new plans later today which will detail the party's approach to the economy in the countdown to the general election.
During a speech at Jaguar Land Rover in Birmingham, Mr Miliband is due to criticise those using tax avoidance schemes, while emphasising the economy needs "each and every one" in the UK to do their bit.
We need a better plan to replace an economy where tens of billions are lost in tax avoidance with an economy where tens of thousands more of our young people are doing apprenticeships and we help more businesses grow, succeed and create wealth.
Our plan is based on the idea that it is only when Britain’s working families succeed that Britain succeeds. Not the old idea that it is only from the top down that wealth flows. And it is only our plan that recognises that every person in every sector of the economy is a wealth creator.
And that means we need a plan which nurtures the talents of every young person, supports every business, allows every family to share prosperity, and expects each and every one of us to contribute.
Ed Miliband will tomorrow unveil plans to boost "every business and sector of the British economy", while attacking the current government's "failing plan" for growth.
In a speech at Jaguar Land Rover in Birmngham, the Labour leader will present an alternative to a Conservative vision that, in his words, "only works for a handful of people at the top".
Labour's Better Plan for Britain's Prosperity will outline measures to build "a more inclusive prosperity", including plans to cut business rates, improve training and apprenticeships and promote greater competition in the energy and banking sectors.
The document will also include plans to offer tax breaks for employers who introduce the Living Wage, and guaranteeing that Britain has the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7.
The Conservatives have hit back at Labour after Ed Miliband promised an inquiry into how HMRC tackles tax evasion.
A spokesperson for the party said the culture and practices of the tax body "went wrong" under the previous government and asked whether the inquiry "would include Labour's record" during its time in power.
"It's David Cameron who has been clearing up Labour's mess - investing in HMRC to increase the number of prosecutions of tax dodgers, putting reform of the way multinational companies are taxed at the top of the G8 agenda and closing loopholes that the richest were exploiting under Labour."
Labour leader Ed Miliband has renewed his party's promises to freeze energy prices until 2017, abolish bedroom tax, and increase youth employment via a "bank bonus" levy funded Jobs Guarantee.
Speaking at the Welsh Labour Party Conference today Miliband also said he would give energy watchdog Ofgem powers to force energy companies to pass on falls in wholesale prices to customers, if he is successful in this year's election.