LONDON (Reuters) - The Labour Party called on the government Monday to impose a further 2 billion pound tax on bankers’ bonuses in next week’s budget, but the government said it had no plans for further bank taxes.
“We are asking (Chancellor) George Osborne to repeat the bank bonus tax for a second year ... and use the ... money to act now to build homes, to create jobs,” shadow chancellor Ed Balls told a news conference.
The 10-month-old coalition government has not repeated a one-off bank bonus tax imposed by the previous Labour government. Instead it has implemented a permanent bank levy designed to raise 2.5 billion pounds a year.
Labour is calling for the bank bonus tax, which brought in 3.5 billion pounds last year, to be repeated this year in addition to the bank levy.
Labour say the tax would raise at least 2 billion pounds this year and proposes using 1.2 billion pounds of that to build 25,000 homes, as well as creating a 600 million pound fund for youth jobs and boosting a regional growth fund by 200 million pounds.
Public anger over bankers’ bonuses remains high as the government was forced into multi-billion-pound bank bailouts during the financial crisis, but there is no sign of the cabinet adding to already announced steps in this month’s budget.
New Barclays boss Bob Diamond and his two replacements as head of the investment banking arm were paid 28 million pounds last year. The trio also received shares worth 40 million pounds for past performance, the bank said last week.
Balls urged Osborne to ease the burden on motorists hit by soaring fuel prices by reversing a recent rise in VAT sales tax on petrol at a cost of 800 million pounds.
It hopes to put pressure on the government over this issue in a parliamentary debate and vote Wednesday.
Responding to Labour’s call to repeat the bonus tax, Justine Greening, the economic secretary to the Treasury, said the Conservative-led government had recently concluded an agreement with banks to curb bonuses and boost lending to businesses.
“That’s the deal that we’ve done with the banks and we are not going to go further than that,” she told reporters.
She said Labour’s proposal to reduce VAT just on fuel would be against European Union law.
Greening said the March 23 budget would include measures aimed at reducing unemployment.
Labour says the coalition is reducing the record peacetime budget deficit too quickly, undermining the economy which shrank in the final quarter of last year.
Editing by Patrick Graham