Labour unveils five pledges to help squeezed middle

Labour has unveiled five pledges to help struggling families ahead of the local election campaign.

Three of the pledges involve forcing private companies to reduce charges while two promise to reverse or block government policy.

While the card does not go as far as promising Labour would reinstate the 50p top rate of income tax, the pledges promise to "block" the tax cut for "14,000 millionaires" and "reverse" the government's pension tax break for those earning over £150,000 in a bid to protect working families' tax credits.

The pledge card also promises to cap fares on all rail routes, force energy firms to cut gas and electricity bills for the over-75s and stop "excessive fees" charges by banks and low cost airlines.

The pledge card comes amid unprecedented high poll performances for Labour under Ed Miliband, with a recent poll suggesting the party had a ten-point lead over the Tories.

In a speech today, Mr Miliband will renew his attack on the Conservatives for last week's Budget and the cash-for-access scandal.

Political analysts expect the party to make gains at the local elections, which will be treated as a litmus test of Mr Miliband's leadership.

Tory-controlled areas such as Bradford, Birmingham, Plymouth and Reading could be under threat.