As PM insists welfare cuts will go ahead...
Labour’s Lord Adonis to head Chancellor’s new commission
Lord Adonis, the former Labour transport minister, is resigning the Labour whip to head a new commission for George Osborne, the Chancellor, to offer advice on infrastructure.
He will remain a Labour party member, but his appointment will be seen as an embarrassment for the opposition.
Mr Osborne will today unveil the setting up a national infrastructure commission, an idea stolen from former Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls.
Funds for infrastructure will come from asset sales and from pooling 89 local authority pension funds into six new British Wealth Funds – each with assets of over £25 billion, Mr Osborne will tell delegates at the party conference.
It is not clear if the new commission will play a key role in determining the fate of controversial multi-billion pound projects such as the HS2 rail line and extra airport runway capacity.
However, it will set out a programme of action on what the government should be building.
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, responded to the announcement by saying action is required immediately.
“Updating the UK’s infrastructure is critical to sustainable growth and productivity, and we’ve long called for an independent body to assess our long-term needs.
“This new Commission is welcome but we must not duck the important infrastructure decisions that need taking now, particularly on expanding aviation capacity in the South East.
“Business will want to see a decision on airport capacity by the end of the year, in line with the Government’s commitment.”
Mr Osborne’s announcement will follow Prime Minister David Cameron’s insistence that controversial plans to cut tax credits for low-paid workers will go ahead.
Critics have warned that more than three million people will be £1,300-a-year worse of as a result of the cuts. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the new National Living Wage will not compensate for the cuts.
Mr Cameron may also be taking a huge gamble, making his statement on BBC’s Andrew Marr show as his party meets for its annual conference amid public disquiet in Manchester.
An unbowed Mr Cameron said the reforms were a vital part of the government’s aim to slash the welfare bill and make work pay.
He dismissed any suggestion that the plans would be diluted in the Autumn Statement,. He said: “We think the changes we put forward are right and they come with higher pay and lower taxes.”
The Prime Minister denied that the cuts will leave low-paid workers worse off.
He said: “If you take a family where someone is on minimum wage, when you take into account all the things we are changing in tax, in the national living wage, and tax credits, that family will be better off.