THE Government has responded to criticism of a new trade deal, insisting it will create jobs, increase wages and boost the UK economy by £10bn a year.

The European Union and the US have been negotiating for the past year on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with hopes of a final agreement in 2015.

Protests have taken place amid warnings from unions and campaign groups, who say the deal will lead to health services being opened up to competition from US private healthcare providers.

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Trade Minister Lord Livingston said TTIP was essentially a free trade deal, which would lead to a series of benefits for businesses, workers and consumers.

He said jobs would be created, wages would go up and the average household would benefit by as much as £400 a year.

He added: "This is a very big prize, removing most tariffs so that more companies will be able to trade with the US.

"We are trying to bring standards together, not reduce them."

Prime Minister David Cameron has said TTIP could be the biggest bilateral trade deal in history, describing it as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

However, Blanche Jones, from campaign group 38 Degrees, said: "Politicians of all parties need to explain exactly what they're doing to bring this deal out in the open and get it fixed or scrapped.

"125,000 people have already signed a 38 Degrees petition against the deal, and this weekend thousands took to the streets to spread the word.

"Big business might love this deal, but most voters don't."