Leader calls for regional banks to boost growth

Ed Miliband visits Chesterfield
Ed Miliband visits Chesterfield
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South Yorkshire MP and Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has set out his ‘vision’ to help create jobs – through new ‘regional banks’.

Speaking exclusively to The Star, Mr Miliband said he also wanted to encourage easier access to credit for struggling businesses.

Mr Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, was talking in the wake of figures which showed the Brightside and Hillsborough area of Sheffield has the 11th worst unemployment rate in the country.

He said: “I am proposing a regional banking system, which would involve setting up new banks, run like the old mutual building societies, which were a proud tradition.

“They would provide easier access to affordable credit.

“We also need to get the big banks lending money, so firms have the chance to grow. Every business in the country wants to help get people working again, but they say they can’t afford to take people on.”

However, Mr Miliband sounded caution against cuts to ‘red tape’ for firms, which would hit workers’ rights.

He said: “Often, regulation is not sensitive to the needs of business, which needs to change, but you need to retain protection for the workforce.”

He did not outline how Labour would approach benefit cuts and, although he said his party was opposed to the ‘bedroom tax’ – cuts to housing benefit for council tenants with spare rooms – he warned it may not be possible to reverse it.

But he said: “The important thing to bring down the benefit bill is to create jobs and to say to people they have a responsibility to take the jobs on offer.”

Mr Miliband said his party would tax bankers’ bonuses and use the money to fund traineeships, saying: “We would pay the wages of young people and the firms asked to fund their training.

He said it was ‘too soon’ before the next General Election – due in 2015 – to talk about his party’s proposed spending plans.

He said: “I’m only going to make promises I can keep.”