Nov 5 2013
Ed Miliband is to step up his attack on David Cameron over living standards, accusing the coalition Government of "shrugging their shoulders" about low wages and rising prices.
The Labour leader will point to figures suggesting that more than half of electric and gas price hikes over the past three years have been pocketed by energy firms.
He will challenge Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs to back his policy of freezing energy bills in a Commons vote tomorrow.
The intervention comes in a speech at Battersea Power Station, where he will promise a "big choice" for voters at the next general election.
"A choice about whether we tackle the cost of living crisis or shrug our shoulders," he will say.
"A choice about whether we run a race to the top or a race to the bottom; a choice about whether we reform broken markets or defend them; a choice about how we succeed as a country; and above all, the choice will be about who our country is run for.
"The cost of living crisis isn't just an issue for the lowest paid, it affects the squeezed middle just as much.
"A country where a few at the top do well, but everybody else struggles.
"This is not just an issue facing Britain. It is the issue facing Britain. It is about who our country is run for."
Mr Miliband will say the Commons library has endorsed figures indicating that wholesale energy costs have risen by 1.6% a year on average since 2011, b ut the big six energy firms have increased retail prices by 10.4% a year on average, taking more than half the extra revenue for profits and costs.
Promising to force a division at the end of an Opposition Day debate on freezing energy bills until 2017, Mr Miliband is to insist: "It is workable, it will happen if Labour wins the next election.
"And tomorrow Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs could vote for it.
"If they line up against it, the British people will know the truth: this Government is on the side of the big energy companies, not hard-pressed families."
Mr Miliband, who has pledged tax breaks for businesses that sign up to paying the living wage, will say "fundamental change" is needed to the way the economy is run.
"We don't just need average wages to creep higher than prices. For people to be genuinely better off, we have to do much better than that.
"Ordinary families are hit harder than average by higher prices. They rely more on expensive basic necessities, like electricity and gas.
"And ordinary families do worse than the average when it comes to wage increases because those increases are scooped by a few at the top.
"We have to permanently restore the link between growth and living standards for all of Britain's working people. This Government can't do it. And the reason is because they are wedded to Britain competing in a race to the bottom."