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Labour reaches out to 'Yes' voters

Credit: Alix Franck/ABACA

Labour is to reach out to supporters who voted for independence in last week's referendum, shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran will announce.

While there were only four local authorities where the Yes campaign won a majority, three of them were Labour controlled council areas.

In a bid to address that, Ms Curran is today expected to announce an action plan to understand why some Labour voters wanted to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom.

As part of this she and other leading figures from the party north of the border will visit the 10 parts of Scotland with the highest Yes votes.

Ms Curran will tell the Labour conference in Manchester that they need to show independence supporters that by remaining in the UK they can help create a better Scotland.

Meanwhile Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont will tell activists there that the party must address the "deficit of hope" that exists.

Their speeches to the conference comes just four days after Scotland voted by 55% to 45% to stay in the union.

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Ed Balls: Labour to cap child benefit rise for two years

Child benefit would see cuts for the first two years of a Labour government, Ed Balls is expected to announce.

The shadow chancellor will say that Labour will cap child benefit for at least two years. Credit: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/Press Association Images

The shadow chancellor will present a 1% cap on rises in the help for parents as one of the "tough decisions" necessary to deal with the deficit if the party takes power next year - claiming it will save the taxpayer £400 million over five years.

He will seek to soften the blow by cutting ministers' pay by 5% and then freezing it until the party is able to "balance the books".

Addressing activists at the Opposition's final annual conference before the general election in May, he will vow not to "flinch from the tough decisions" needed to deal with the economy.

He will tell the Manchester gathering:

I want to see child benefit rising again in line with inflation in the next parliament.

But we will not spend money we cannot afford. So for the first two years of the next parliament we will cap the rise in child benefit at 1%.

It will save £400 million in the next parliament. And all the savings will go towards reducing the deficit.

– Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor

Miliband tries to shift attention from English votes for English laws

The Labour party conference began today with Ed Miliband trying to shift attention away from the row over English votes for English laws. But despite announcing the first of his policies ahead of next spring's election he is facing questions on little else.

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports:

What does Labour's minimum wage pledge mean?

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said a Labour government would "write the next chapter" in the battle against low pay.

Labour leader Ed Miliband Credit: PA Wire

Earnings have lagged behind inflation since the 2008 financial crisis.

The main rate is due to increase to £6.50 an hour on October 1, but Labour promised further £1.50 increase by 2020, if it wins the General Election next year.

Here is what you need to know about the pledge:

  • The £1.50 increase would be introduced in annual stages
  • It would amount to a rise of just over 4% a year
  • That is more than in recent years: Since 2010 election, the minimum wage increased on average 2.1% a year
  • The planned increase would affect around 1.4 million jobs
  • It would add around £3,000 a year to those working 40 hours week

The promised rate is said to be similar to that in force in Australia and EU countries such as Belgium and Germany, but still lower than in France and New Zealand.

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Labour to 'write next chapter' in battle against low pay

Labour Leader Ed Miliband has said a Labour government would "write the next chapter" in the battle against low pay.

Ed Miliband speaking on the Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

This country is hurting. This country isn't working for so many people. One in five of the men and women who go out to work in this country - they do some of the most important jobs - they clean buildings, they act as security guards.

They do incredibly important jobs, and they are some of the lowest paid people in this country, and we are determined to change it.

This is why we say the establishment has got to understand the lessons of this referendum, of what people are saying in England and Wales and throughout the United Kingdom. People aren't willing to have business as usual.

– Labour Leader Ed Miliband

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Miliband added that the Low Pay Commission has an important role in "working out a path to a higher minimum wage of over £8 an hour before the next Parliament".

Tories: We're already delivering minimum wage rise

The Tories have hit back at Labour after Ed Miliband announce plans to raise the minimum to £8 by 2020.

Conservatives said that the Government had already delivered the first real-terms rise in the minimum wage since the 2008/09 recession.

The Conservatives are already delivering the first above-inflation minimum wage rise since Labour's great recession began, something we can only afford because our long-term economic plan is working.

– Culture Secretary Sajid Javid

The party said that with the main rate due to increase to £6.50 an hour on October 1, after Chancellor George Osborne gave evidence to the Low Pay Commission that the economy could afford an above-inflation hike.

Labour conference: Miliband pledges £8 minimum wage

Ed Miliband has kick-started Labour's final conference before the general election with a pledge to hike the minimum wage to at least £8.

Ed Miliband has pledged to hike the minimum wage to at least £8. Credit: PA

The party leader said the rise over the next parliament, from the £6.50 level it will hit next month, was needed to stop ordinary workers being left behind.

The increase would add around £3,000 a year to the pay packets of those earning the minimum wage.

The planned increase, which would affect around 1.4 million jobs, would be introduced in annual stages by the Low Pay Commission before October 2019.

Harman defends all-women candidate lists

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has launched a strong defence of the party's use of all-women shortlists, saying there would be no going back on their use to select candidates for parliament.

The deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman. Credit: PA Wire

At the Labour women's conference, she said people opposed to the controversial measure were "supporting inequality".

The Labour deputy leader said all-female candidate shortlists are the only way to stop Parliament being "male-dominated".

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