Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls appeals to first time buyers in Labour conference speech

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls delivers his speech on stage at Manchester Central. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls unveiled a stamp duty holiday and a major house-building programme in his address to the Labour Party conference in Manchester.

Read the full text of Mr Balls' speech here.

He announced his party's plans to cut stamp duty on properties worth more than £250,000, and to build 100,000 affordable homes in a bid to shore up the struggling construction sector.

Both policies are to be funded through a sell-off of 4G licences that is expected to raise between £3 and £4 billion.

The headline-grabbing policies were backed-up with "tough decisions" about reducing government deficit as the country faces a double-dip recession, he said, but didn't expand.

The shadow chancellor got the biggest laugh out of any of the morning's speakers when he joked about the Conservatives attacking the Labour leadership for "not being 'butch' enough".

Ed Balls (L) goes through his speech with Labour leader Ed Miliband at their conference hotel Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Mr Balls was also at pains to dispel any rumours that he and the Labour leader Ed Miliband had any differences.

The pair were photographed on Sunday putting the finishing touches to Mr Balls' speech - a speech in which he referred to his superior as "our friend, out leader, the next Prime Minister of this country".

Whilst the main theme of the speech was to explain how Labour would cut the deficit in a "fairer and more balanced way" than the Tories, he was unapologetic about the lack of detail.

He conceded there would be no "post-election spending spree," but said it was far too soon to speculate about potential tax rises or spending cuts after the next election.

Unite chief Len McCluskey has been vocal in his criticism of Labour's support for a pay freeze Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

The Labour party is facing criticism from the unions after its leader Ed Miliband revealed that he would back a freeze on public sector wages in order to protect jobs.

Although Mr Balls did not mention the pay freeze, he had fighting words for the unions at the weekend when he insisted it is not his job to "make everybody happy" and that they should expect "tough decisions" to be made: