Page last updated at 11:10 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 12:10 UK

Don't remove support now - Byrne

Liam Byrne
Mr Byrne said government support had been vital for people

Labour must not relax its support for the economy even when the UK returns to growth, the Treasury Chief Secretary Liam Byrne has said.

He told Labour's conference its action had saved thousands of jobs and kept people in homes during the recession.

Planned Conservative cuts in areas such as job training and skills would damage a future recovery, he said.

Work Secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour had "more to fight for" in the election than at any time in the past.

Ms Cooper and Mr Byrne were both speaking in a session on the economy ahead of Chancellor Alistair Darling's key speech on the second day of the conference.


Labour initiatives such as the VAT cut, new apprenticeship places, and the car scrappage scheme had made a real difference to people and were all opposed by the Conservatives, My Byrne said.

He urged ministers to ensure people were fully aware of the range of financial assistance available but added that this support would have to be "carefully balanced" as the economy moved back into growth - expected by the turn of the year.

Our values were the right values and we were right to act
Liam Byrne

The Conservatives have accused ministers of exacerbating the UK's debt levels by spending billions on an ineffective VAT cut.

They also say many of the schemes launched by ministers in the past year have been too complex and helped very few people.

But Mr Byrne said the UK must not "repeat the mistakes of the 1980s" when he said many families had been left stranded in the face of a recession.

"This is the difference that Labour values can make in action. Our values were the right values and we were right to act."

He added: "Now is too soon to just strip that help away."

In the same session, Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour action to keep people in work over the past year had prevented "a recession from turning into a slump".

She contrasted the £5bn she said Labour had spent on creating jobs and training places for young people with the Conservatives, who she said would "turn their back on young people".

"This Labour government will never leave people to stand alone."

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