* Government eases planning laws to increase construction
* Builders welcome the move, but may not be enough to fix
* Labour ridicules government plan, lays out own economic
By Mohammed Abbas and Alessandra Prentice
LONDON, Sept 6 Britain's government unveiled
reforms on Thursday to ease planning laws and boost construction
to revive the flagging economy, but the resurgent opposition
Labour party ridiculed the move as it laid out its own economic
In an uncomfortable day for the government, whose flagship
austerity plan is under fire with the economy in recession, the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
slashed British growth forecasts and Labour ridiculed the
planning reforms as a "mouse when we need a lion to roar".
Winning back confidence in its handling of the economy is
crucial for the increasingly unpopular Conservative-led
government ahead of a 2015 general election, as pressure mounts
even with the Conservative Party for a new economic strategy.
The government's new initiative involves easing planning
laws to allow properties to be more easily expanded, removing
restrictions on house developers and bringing in legislation
allowing the government to underwrite infrastructure projects.
The government is also extending financial help for
first-time buyers, who are often priced out of the housing
market due to a chronic shortage of property in some parts of
Business leaders welcomed the move, which lifted the share
prices of Britain's biggest house building firms, including
Bovis Homes, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and
CONSERVATORIES NOT ENOUGH
But Ed Miliband ridiculed the initiative, saying that new
home extensions would not fix Britain's economic woes.
"Here is our central criticism of today. First of all it's
incredibly complex, but more importantly, what is the real
problem we have in the economy today? It is a lack of confidence
and lack of demand. I don't think it's the rules on conservatory
extensions," Miliband said.
In laying out his vision for the economy, Miliband
challenged the idea that low inflation leads to economic
stability and said his party would take a greater role in
regulating financial markets to foster "responsible capitalism".
Despite tens of thousands of job losses and welfare cuts
Britain continues to borrow more than hoped and the economy has
shrunk for the last three quarters, with the OECD now predicting
that the economy will shrink by 0.7 percent this year.