Labour’s Rachel Reeves boosts her party’s election campaign in Ipswich

Shadow cabinet minister Rachel Reeves is at Saints coffee shop in Ipswich meeting voters.

Shadow cabinet minister Rachel Reeves is at Saints coffee shop in Ipswich meeting voters. - Credit: Archant

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves was highlighting two of Labour’s most distinctive policies during a visit to Ipswich as part of David Ellesmere’s election campaign.

Ms Reeves visited the Ipswich Building Society’s headquarters to hear how it had worked to ensure all its employees were paid at least the living wage.

Then she had a meeting with tenants whose lives had been affected by the introduction of the “Bedroom Tax” by the current government.

Ms Reeves said that the 20% of workers earned less than the living wage – and they had to rely on in-work benefits that were a serious drain on the economy.

Organisations like Ipswich Building Society were finding that paying the living wage helped their staff and that it benefitted the company as a whole.

She said: “There will also be some small companies starting out who need to pay the minimum wage, but large companies with large profits should be able to pay their workers enough so they don’t have to rely on the state to top up their wages.”

A Labour government would seek to increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour over the course of its first parliament but would still encourage employers to pay the living wage.

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Ms Reeves then met tenants who had been affected by the “Bedroom Tax” which sees a cut to housing benefit imposed on those who live in homes that the government feels are too large for individuals.

She said: “There are about 1,300 people affected by the Bedroom Tax here in Ipswich and about half a million families across the country – only about 5% of those affected have been able to move to smaller properties.

“It is difficult to know how much has been saved because some of those affected are in arrears or have their difference made by up by their local authority, so it really hasn’t benefited the overall government spending figures at all.”