MSE News

Labour wins the election – here's what Keir Starmer said he'll do for your wallet

From energy bills to benefits, here's what the incoming Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has promised on the big issues affecting the pound in your pocket. It comes as Labour will form the next UK Government after the party won a majority in the House of Commons following the general election on 4 July. 

Sir Keir's response forms part of MoneySavingExpert.com's (MSE) 2024 Leaders' Debate, where the new Prime Minister – along with six other party leaders – answered YOUR questions on consumer and personal finance issues (plus some of ours too) ahead of the election.

Below, we cover everything Sir Keir told us in the debate and we've also summarised some of Labour's other manifesto pledges that affect your finances – as well as explaining some of our continued campaigning in these key areas. But first, watch the video Sir Keir sent us with his plan to "cut your bills for good".

Sir Keir's answers in the MSE Leaders' Debate

On energy bills – including standing charges, social tariffs and efficient homes

We asked: What will you do about energy bills? Including...

Q You pay £330 a year in standing charges even before you use any energy. What will you do to bring them down?
Q Consumer energy bills are still significantly higher than what they were before the energy crisis. What will you do to lower them?
Q Will you introduce a social tariff for the vulnerable?
Q How will you help people to make their homes more efficient?

Sir Keir: "The British people are paying the price of 14 years of economic chaos under the Conservatives. The choice at this general election is clear: higher bills and energy insecurity with the Conservatives, or lower bills and energy independence with Labour.

"Our plan to switch on Great British Energy will take back control of our destiny and invest in cheap, clean homegrown energy that we control. Funded by asking the big oil and gas companies to pay their fair share through a proper windfall tax, so the proceeds can be invested in the future of the country.

"For those struggling to make ends meet, we’ll stop the scandal of expensive pre-payment meters being forced on vulnerable people, and we’ll work with the energy regulator to reduce the standing charges that hit poorer households. 

"And we'll launch a Warm Homes Plan – spending an additional £6.6 billion to upgrade Britain's homes, cut energy bills and boost jobs across the country."

What MSE has called for: We believe standing charges need to be significantly lowered and have also advocated for an energy social tariff

On renters – including no-fault evictions, living standards and renters' rights

We asked: What will you do to help renters – some of the hardest hit by recent inflation? Including...

Q Will you finally end Section 21 'no-fault' evictions, which prevent some renters from challenging rent rises and complaining about conditions in their homes?
Q How will you protect renters from poor living standards?

Sir Keir: "I know the cost-of-living crisis has really hit renters, with failure to build enough homes over 14 years meaning renting is often unaffordable and expensive. 

"To add to this, the [Conservative] Government has shamefully failed to properly regulate the centre [sic], leaving renters exposed to arbitrary eviction, poor quality homes and rip-off practices like bidding wars. 

"That’s why I’m saying no ifs, no buts – Labour will immediately ban no-fault evictions so that families have the security of knowing that landlords can’t kick them out for no reason. And we’ll pass strong new laws to level the playing field between landlords and tenants.

"A crackdown is overdue on the unscrupulous landlords that rip off tenants with extortionate rents and poor-quality living conditions. That’s what Labour is determined to deliver. 

"On rents, we’ll end rental bidding wars, so landlords can no longer pit hopeful renters against each other in a fight to see who can offer up a bigger sum. Labour will also end massive upfront payments, by capping the amount of rent requested upfront, forcing renters to turn to the bank of mum and dad just to get into the rental market.  

"Finally, we’ll put power back in tenants' hands so that they can challenge unreasonable rent hikes. We'll let tenants recover costs in courts when their landlord increases their rent without issuing an official notice. We'll also give tenants a minimum of two months to terminate their contract in cases when a landlord increases rent disproportionately. And we’ll go further to ensure that tenants who take an unfair rent rise to court won't see the increase after the court has ruled.

"For those living in lurid living conditions, we'll tackle the respiratory and other health problems renters are suffering by stamping out black mould, damp and cold with new legal protections for tenants. Importantly, we'll give every renter the same protection from damp, cold and mould by extending laws to private renters.

"The cost-of-living crisis is still being felt by so many families. That's why we'll slash fuel poverty and cut energy bills, saving the average tenant £250 per year, by requiring all landlords to meet stringent energy efficiency standards by 2030. 

"The bottom line is that there are not enough homes in our country. Under the Tories, housing supply is collapsing and planning permissions are at record lows. The dream of home ownership has all but been killed off. 

"Labour is promising 1.5 million new build homes in the next parliament and new schemes to unlock the dream of homeownership. We'll give first-time buyers 'first dibs' on new developments in their communities, with a comprehensive mortgage guarantee scheme for those who struggle to save for a large deposit."

On unpaid carers – including Carer's Allowance, back payments and cliff-edges

We asked: Will you improve help for unpaid carers? Including...

Q Those on Carer's Allowance lose it all if they earn a penny over £151 a week – will you end this cliff-edge cut-off and taper the limit?
Q Will you increase the Carer's Allowance payment?
Q Will you help those who are being chased for huge back payments, even for just going pennies over?

Carrie from Hertfordshire: "I have had to reduce my working hours by three days a week to care for my elderly mother. I'm only earning £30 a week above the limit to claim Carer's Allowance but I can't reduce my hours at work any further. Unpaid carers save the Government thousands, if not millions of pounds."

Sir Keir: "My mum had a debilitating illness, Still's disease. She never gave up, but her illness did shape our lives. I know how hard managing care responsibilities is for many families and we have to make sure the system works for those caring for loved ones.

"It is outrageous that Conservative mismanagement of the system has caused untold stress to carers overpaid through no fault of their own and I know it is causing a huge amount of stress for the carers concerned. This is something we would look into right away in Government when we can examine all of the relevant information and data.

"I can see no reason why carers cannot be immediately alerted if they go over the earnings threshold, and I am committed to putting the right safeguards in place to fix this for the long-term so more families do not suffer through no fault of their own. We will also ensure that any repayments are managed in a fair way for carers.

"A Labour Government will also support unpaid carers by introducing the right to flexible working and provide time away from work for caring responsibilities, join up services and support so families don’t have to battle their way around the system, and we will give people in care homes a new legal right to see their loved ones."

What MSE has called for: An end to the Carer's Allowance "cliff-edge" and an urgent solution to the issues with Carer's Allowance that have left many carers facing demands to repay £1,000s in accidentally-overpaid benefit.

On over-60s – including WASPI women

We asked: What will you do for the over-60s and WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) women? Including...

Q Will you follow the recommendations of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and compensate women born in the 50s who have lost years of their state pension entitlement?

Sir Keir: "I am determined that the Labour Government I lead does everything it can to ensure people have security and dignity in retirement.

"Labour will maintain the triple lock on pensions and increase the state pension each year in line with inflation, average earnings, or by 2.5%, whichever is higher. 

"And I know that accessing NHS care and rising crime and antisocial behaviour are particular concerns for many over-60s. Labour’s first steps for change in Government include cutting NHS waiting times with 40,000 more appointments each week, during evenings and weekends, paid for by cracking down on tax avoidance and non-dom loopholes. We will also crack down on crime and antisocial behaviour, with more neighbourhood police paid for by ending wasteful contracts signed off by Conservative ministers.

"The WASPI women have been through so much and have campaigned tirelessly over many years. The Conservatives had months to respond to the Ombudsman report before the election, but shamefully failed to do so. If we're privileged enough to come into Government after the election, we'll pick up the work that the Conservatives kicked into the long grass."

What campaigners have called for: Campaign groups representing women born in the 1950s say millions of them have lost years of their state pension entitlement because they weren't properly informed that their state pension age was going up, leaving them without enough time to make other financial arrangements. We have covered these campaigns on the MSE website and boosted the issue behind the scenes.

Recently, the Parliamentary Ombudsman ruled that there were significant failings in the way the Conservative Government communicated the changes, and that affected women should be due compensation. However, the Conservative Government did not respond to the Ombudsman's report before Parliament was dissolved.

On childcare – including Child Benefit and the childcare crisis

We asked: How will you help those with children and who need childcare? Including...

Q Will you shift the Child Benefit thresholds to household income to end the current 'higher earner' cut-off, which penalises single-earner and dominant-income families?
Q How will you ease the childcare crisis in the UK?

"I am worried about making ends meet on maternity pay, finding a space in a nursery is proving a nightmare and the cost of childcare when I return is also a major worry." MoneySaver who wants to remain anonymous.

Sir Keir: "The childcare crisis in the UK has become completely untenable. I've met countless parents who are in despair over the situation, often locked out of the workplace because it costs too much to get childcare. It's bad for their careers, their family finances and it's bad for Britain’s economy – it has to change. 

"Labour will ensure that Government funded childcare entitlements are genuinely met with a real plan for delivery, not just warm words. Our plan for early years is to deliver 100,000 new nursery places using space in primary schools. That will give kids a safe environment to develop before they arrive at school and help parents back into the workplace or let them expand their hours.

"For primary school age children, we'll offer breakfast clubs in schools. This will help parents who have earlier shifts at work to be secure in the knowledge that their children are fed and well looked after. And it has the added benefit of giving them a healthy start to the day, which is proven to help their attainment. 

"This means better childcare provision that gives every child the opportunity to thrive, and parents with more flexibility and opportunity to fulfil their ambitions. It's good for the country and the economy. That's what a Labour Government would do."

What MSE has called for: Changes to income thresholds that meant single-income households unfairly lost Child Benefit from £50,000, whereas a dual-income household could earn almost £100,000 without losing any.

In a win for MSE, the former Chancellor raised the thresholds (to start paying some of your Child Benefit back) to £60,000 (and to £80,000 from £60,000 before you lose your entitlement completely) from April 2024 and said he'd consult on changing the system to look at household income.

On mortgages – including mortgage prisoners and bill shocks

We asked: How will you help mortgage holders and mortgage prisoners? Including... 

Q How will you help those who have or soon will come off fixed-rate mortgages, who are faced with bill shocks and much higher costs?
Q Over 100,000 mortgage prisoners have been trapped on extortionate rates for 15 years after their loans were sold off by the state. Will you commit to enacting the suggestions put forward by the London School of Economics (LSE) (based on detailed research funded by MSE founder and chair Martin Lewis)?

Lydia from South Wales: "My mortgage doubled from £400 to £800 a month this year... me and my husband are both on good salaries... but every month we end up in our overdraft."

Sir Keir: "Millions of people across Britain, like Lydia, have faced staggering increases in their mortgage costs. The Conservatives crashed our economy and created a mortgage bombshell that has hammered the finances of working families. You would think they’d have learned the lessons of Liz Truss, yet Rishi Sunak's election manifesto is a desperate wish list of unfunded promises that will mean £4,800 more on people's mortgages.

"People who have done the right thing by saving for a deposit and then buying a home now face their payments going up by hundreds of pounds a month through no fault of their own. And mortgage prisoners face being hit by the same interest rate rise as other mortgage payers, but without even having had the option to move to a cheaper rate deal in the past.

"Despite promises to look into the issues facing mortgage prisoners, the Conservatives have dragged their feet on this for years. In Government we would work with regulators and the industry to ensure the issue is properly addressed. 

"It's time for a change. My Labour Party will stabilise our economy and never play fast and loose with the nation’s finances."

What MSE has called for: We have campaigned for the Government to act to free mortgage prisoners – and Martin even funded a series of reports from the LSE, which put costed solutions forward. Various Treasury ministers committed to reviewing the solutions, but we've yet to receive an official response. 

On first-time buyers – including affordable mortgages and Lifetime ISAs

We asked: How will you help wannabe first-time buyers and those with Lifetime ISAs (LISAs)? Including...

Q What will you do to help first-time buyers get affordable mortgages and get on to the property ladder?
Q Will you scrap the penalty paid by those with LISAs who've been priced out and have to buy homes above the £450,000 LISA cap – or will you raise the cap?

Sir Keir: "The simple fact is we don't have enough homes in this country because the Conservatives haven't built enough in the last 14 years. That has shut out a generation from owning their own home.

"The average age of a first-time buyers is now 37. We've got to do something about that.

"Labour is promising to get Britain building again with 1.5 million new homes in the next parliament. And to get help people get on the ladder, we'll give first-time buyers 'first dibs' on new developments in their communities, with a comprehensive mortgage guarantee scheme for those who struggle to save for a large deposit.

"We'll look at any measures we can to support people getting the keys to their first home - but the priority will be these two things."

What MSE has called for: A LISA overhaul. Young savers should not be essentially fined – and lose their hard-saved cash – when they purchase homes above the scheme's £450,000 limit.

On students – including maintenance loans, tuition fees and student finance

We asked: Will you help students afford to live while at university? Including...

Q Student living support (the maintenance loan) has seen a substantial real-terms cut, especially for English students, threatening social mobility. How will you change this?
Q Are you looking to make other changes to student finance, including tuition fees?

Sir Keir: "I know students have struggled with soaring costs of living under the Conservatives. We'll ease that pressure in a number of ways including by removing age bands on the national minimum wage, so employers can no longer pay young people less and for the first time consider the cost of living in setting the minimum wage. This will make a real difference to students working to support themselves during their studies.

"But we'll also drive-up standards in rented accommodation, requiring landlords to make homes cheaper to heat and saving renters £250 a year on average. We will tackle the high cost of housing, of energy, and of food, and really bear down on the root causes of the cost-of-living crisis.

"The Conservatives' tuition fee system is broken. It doesn't work for students, for our universities who are increasingly having to cut back courses as they're getting squeezed, and we're not getting a good deal as taxpayers.

"We want to take time to get this right because [sic] not deliver more bungled reforms, so from Government – should we win the trust of the British people – we will work through the modelling available, with students and with our universities, to make changes to this system because we know it isn't working. We will do this without putting any more burdens on the taxpayer because we know working people are already struggling."

What MSE has called for: Help for struggling students. In January, Martin wrote to the then-Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, noting that student maintenance loans have not kept up with inflation. 

On insurance – including higher prices and pre-existing conditions

We asked: What will you do to ensure insurance is affordable? Including...

Q Car insurance is compulsory, home insurance necessary, yet prices are up around 50% over the last year alone. Many people are being priced out, increasing the risk of more being uninsured. What will you do to help? 
Q Many people with pre-existing physical and mental health conditions are penalised and priced out of going on holiday. What will you do to help?

Sir Keir: "Car insurance is not a luxury but a legal requirement, and it is completely unaffordable for millions of drivers. The Conservatives have overseen rising thefts, more potholes and worsening consumer practices that have caused the price of car insurance to soar. Hard-pressed drivers have seen insurance soar by 77% in just two years, and it's the poorest drivers being hit hardest.

"Labour will take action on soaring costs by calling in the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and urging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to launch urgent investigations into the rising cost of car insurance, including investigating whether postcode pricing practices are unfairly targeting ethnic minorities and those on lower incomes.

"We will also ensure the FCA and CMA are robustly regulating insurance companies to ensure they're treating all customers fairly."

What MSE has called for: We haven't put specific calls to the Government on this issue but we are very concerned about rapidly rising premiums and have discussed the situation with policymakers behind the scenes.

On council tax – including the banding system and the severely mentally impaired discount

We asked: Will you change the council tax system and help stop increases? Including...

Q The band most homes in England and Scotland are in is still dictated by a stopgap, 2nd gear, drive-by valuation from 1991 (2003 in Wales). Around 400,000 homes are in the wrong band, and they are moving further away from any semblance of reality of house prices. Will you reform or re-band? 
Will you ensure that the severely mentally impaired council tax discount is prominently publicised across councils, made easier to claim, and has standardised backdating rules?

Sir Keir: "We think taxes on working people are too high, which is why we have committed to not raising income tax, VAT, or national insurance over the next parliament. 

"We aren't looking at changing council tax bands, our priority is on delivering our comprehensive plan for growth, which is how we get ourselves out of the low growth, high tax trap created by the Conservatives.

"Councils should be doing all they can to ensure people entitled to council tax discounts can get them and we will work with local leaders to ensure they can do this.

"We'll give local authorities more certainty by giving them multi-year funding settlements. This will give them the ability to plan their finances for the long term, and deliver the services their residents want to see, such as fixing potholes and regular bin collections."

What MSE has called for: We want to end the postcode lottery for those eligible for the 'severely mentally impaired' council tax discount. We want to see the discount standardised across Great Britain (a different scheme is in place in Northern Ireland) and people helped to claim. 

On household budgets and food costs – including deficit budgets

We asked: What will you do about household budgets and food costs? Including...

Q More than half of people who go to charity Citizens Advice for help are in a deficit budget – meaning their income is not enough to cover their essential costs even after money advice. How will you address this desperate situation?
Q Food prices are still nearly 27% higher than three years ago. What will you do to take action on the cost of food?

Megan from Orpington: "The prices for food are going up and up every month and more and more are struggling just to get their essentials for their own household meals."

Sir Keir: "It's appalling that so many families are struggling at the moment. I know what it’s like to struggle. When I was growing up, my parents had to cut off our phone for months on end because we couldn't pay the bill. I know so too many are having to make difficult choices.

"There are several things we would look at, the first being we have got to make work pay. Our plan is to very quickly introduce a package of new rights for working people if we take office. That include banning exploitative zero hours contracts; ending fire and rehire; and introducing basic rights from day one to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal.

"But most importantly, Labour will also make sure the minimum wage is a genuine living wage. We will change the remit of the independent Low Pay Commission so for the first time it accounts for the cost of living and remove the discriminatory age bands, so all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage. That will deliver a pay rise to hundreds of thousands of workers across the UK.

"For the families that are already really struggling, we'll review Universal Credit so that it makes work pay and tackles poverty. We want to end mass dependence on emergency food parcels, which is a moral scar on our society.

"But we also need to look at how we bring down the cost of the basics, like food. To support manufacturers in delivering that cheaper food, we will bring down the cost of energy, and help reduce food prices by removing barriers to businesses trading.

"We’ll also back our fantastic British farmers with a number of schemes to remove the challenges they face every day and stops them growing the food we need, because food security is national security.

"Finally, we’ve got to get growth back into our economy. I accept this 'the boring stuff' [sic]. But growth and good jobs is the route to putting money back in people's pockets, and that will be a Labour Government’s number one mission."

On fraud and scams – including social media and online safety

We asked: How will you tackle the epidemic of fraud, scams and the social media Wild West? Including...

Q It's thought nearly 17% of all UK crimes start on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, yet scam adverts and posts still appear with near impunity. The Online Safety Act is in, but not in effect, and the Online Advertising programme is nowhere to be seen – meaning most of the online advertising market isn't covered. What will you do?
Q "Fraud is increasing and now makes up 40% of all crime. How will you prioritise its prevention and detection?" David in Heage.

Sir Keir: "MoneySavingExpert readers are absolutely right to be concerned and angry about this. We've seen an explosion of fraud in the UK in recent years, and the response to match it from the [Conservative] Government just hasn't been there. Time and again I’ve heard desperate stories from people who've been cheated out of their wages or savings, including from many vulnerable elderly retirees, and the only common factor in all those stories is that no-one was ever arrested or prosecuted.

"This is now Britain's most commonly experienced crime and we've got to start treating it with the seriousness it deserves, whether it's fraud against the public sector, fraud against small businesses, or fraud against ordinary consumers.

"On the latter, we've set out plans this week [the week of 24 June 2024] to crack down on exactly the issue you've raised around online fraud, and the scams that are advertised on the big social media sites. Buying and selling online has to remain quick, easy and free, but it also has to be safe, and that's what we're determined to deliver.

"At the moment, Britain's banks do most of the work of trying to prevent and detect fraudulent transactions, and bear all the cost of reimbursing victims, but the tech giants do little or nothing for either effort. That has to change.

"We want to ensure the tech companies have a clear obligation – and a clear financial incentive – to work with the banks and law enforcement agencies on preventing scams, identifying fraudulent transactions, tracking down the fraudsters, and supporting victims. The voluntary approach the Home Office has tried is not working, but our plans will change that."

What MSE has called for: Urgent regulation to help prevent criminals paying for ads on social media and elsewhere online in order to scam innocent people out of their money.

On buy now, pay later – including debt and consumer rights

We asked: Will you ensure the UK's fastest-growing debt – buy now, pay later (BNPL) – is regulated? Including...

Q Action to regulate BNPL lenders has been delayed and, frankly, forgotten. What will you do to make sure that consumers have the same rights and protections, including the ability to complain to the Ombudsman, that they have with other types of borrowing?

Sir Keir: "I recognise that many people value BNPL products, as they can be a useful way to budget and pay for items. But the [Conservative] Government's failure to properly regulate the sector has left millions at risk from bad actors in the market.

"The Labour Party, debt campaigners and the major providers of BNPL have all consistently called for regulation to provide certainty for businesses and to protect the British public – but the Conservatives have refused to listen.

"The Conservatives have not just ignored the calls of consumer champions to regulate the sector, including Martin Lewis – who rightly urged the [Conservative] Chancellor not to shelve plans for regulation – but also the major providers of BNPL products themselves.

"Only Labour has a plan to work hand-in-hand with industry to properly regulate the buy-now-pay later sector and support people through the Tory cost-of-living crisis."

What MSE has called for: Regulation, so that the same or similar rules that apply to other forms of debt, also protect people using BNPL. That includes the ability to take complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service, and to give Section 75 protection to these types of payments.

On money and mental health: a question from charity the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute:

Q "Money and mental health problems are inextricably linked, and the pandemic and rising costs have left millions more people struggling with these issues. Integrating debt advice and NHS Talking Therapies would boost recovery rates, help more people into work, and save the Government and the NHS money. Will you commit to joining up these services?"

Sir Keir: "I am a big believer in joining up services and reforming them to make them work more efficiently for service users. My Labour Government will inject resources and reform into NHS mental health services to not just give people their lives back, but to completely overhaul the way our country approaches mental health.

"One of our first steps in Government will be to recruit 8,500 new staff to cut waiting lists, deliver mental health support in every school and an open access Young Futures mental health hub in every community, all fully funded by closing tax loopholes. We will also reform the Mental Health Act in our first King's Speech, something the Conservatives promised but failed to do.

"We also know that if you're in good work, people's mental health relapses can be cut by up to a half. That's one reason why we're so determined to grow the economy and create good, well-paid jobs across the country which people who are not in work and struggling with their mental health can then be supported to take up.

"We will devolve the responsibility and funding for employment support to local areas so that they can make sure services are joined up with the NHS. And our new Young Futures hubs will have employment advisors alongside mental health professionals working within them. 

"The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is doing excellent work and while we do not have plans to integrate debt advice with NHS Talking Therapies, we will always keep how we can best support people under review."

What MSE has called for. MSE hasn't specifically called for anything on this issue, but Martin's charity the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has. In 2023, it asked the Conservative Government and NHS England to provide money advice alongside NHS Talking Therapies — the flagship programme for mild to moderate mental health problems, which treats over 1.2 million people each year. 

Other key Labour manifesto commitments

On taxes

Labour has promised to:

  • Not increase National Insurance.
  • Not increase basic, higher or additional rates of income tax.
  • Not increase VAT.
  • Abolish non-dom tax status and replace it with a new scheme for people in the country for a short period.
  • End the use of offshore trusts to avoid inheritance tax.

On work and wages

As well as the measures given in the 'household budgets' question above, Labour has said it will:

  • Strengthen rights to equal pay and protections from maternity and menopause discrimination for working women.
  • Introduce a Race Equality Act to enshrine in law the right to equal pay for Black, Asian and other ethnic minority people.
  • Introduce the full right to equal pay for disabled people. 

Anything else?

Labour has promised to:

  • Support the development of banking hubs on the high street.
  • Overhaul the railways by bringing them into public ownership and create a "tough new passenger watchdog".
  • Introduce free breakfast clubs in every UK primary school. 
  • Introduce new consumer protections on ticket resales.

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