Windfall from 4G sale should go to new homes and stamp duty holiday, says shadow chancellor
The government should use a an estimated £4 billion windfall from auctioning 4G mobile frequencies to build 100,000 new homes and bring in a two-year holiday on stamp duty for first time buyers, according to shadow chancellor Ed Balls.
In a call to “cut through the dither and rhetoric”, Balls has proposed “bold and urgent action” with the 4G sale in his keynote speech to the Labour party conference.
“Let’s commit that money from the 4G sale and build over the next two years: 100,000 new homes – affordable homes to rent and to buy – creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and getting the construction industry moving again”
“Add to that a stamp duty holiday for first time buyers, and we can deliver real help for people aspiring to get on the property ladder. A clear and costed plan to kick-start the economy and get people back to work” he said.
Balls’ proposal is based on a lower estimated windfall from the 4G sale of £3 billion, with £2.5 billion going towards the house building and the two-year stamp duty holiday estimated to cost £500 million.
The sale of the 3G spectrum in 2003 led to a £22.5bn windfall, which the then chancellor Gordon Brown used exclusively to reduce debt.
Prime Minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne were fiercely criticised by Balls, who dubbed them “Butch Cameron and the flatline kid”.
“A Prime Minister and a Chancellor destined to go down fighting together. And this time, let’s see them riding off into the sun-set, Butch Cameron and the flatline kid” he quipped.
Conservative vice-chairman Margot James disagreed with Balls, calling for any windfall from the 4G auction to be used to pay down debt.
Speaking on Monday morning to BBC Radio 4, she said:
“It will be interesting to see how much that particular pot of money gets spent by Labour with their various ideas in the coming 12 months. We’ve already got plans to relax the planning laws, and free up government land and incentivise business, the developers, to build on the land that they’ve already got permission for.
“I would use some of that money to pay down the debt, rather than start thinking of ways of spending it, but that’s unfortunately Labour’s default position.”
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