Ed Miliband: We’ll tax the rich to heal the poor

Ed Miliband has pledged to pay for 36,000 new jobs in the NHS by raiding the bank accounts of "the very wealthiest in society".

The Labour leader used his speech to the final autumn conference before next year's general election to outline his plan to create an NHS 'time to care' fund.

He said a mansion tax for those living in houses worth over £2 million, moves against tax avoidance including closing hedge fund tax loopholes and a raid on tobacco companies' profits would help pay to relieve NHS workers of the "huge future pressures" they face.

The cash, which Miliband thinks will total £2.5 billion every year, would pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more careworkers and 3,000 more midwives.

"We need to make sure there is a NHS there when we need it," Miliband told Labour delegates in Manchester.

"Our plan for Britain's future means we will create a world-class 21st century health and care service because a hospital is only as good as the services in the community.

"The NHS is sliding backwards under this government. They are privatising and fragmenting it. Just think what it would look like after five more years of this government. It is not safe in their hands.

"We built the NHS. We saved the NHS. We will repeal their Health and Social Care Act and we will transform the NHS for the future."

The proposals, which formed the centrepiece of Miliband's final autumn conference pitch to voters, were met with a standing ovation from Labour party members.

His shadow team aims to raise £1.2 billion every year from the mansion tax, building on a policy originally championed by the Liberal Democrats.

Labour expects to raise £1.1 billion from its tax avoidance clampdown, which will target the 'eurobonds' loophole and fixing expenses rules used by 'umbrella companies' to avoid tax and national insurance payments.

The tobacco levy is only expected to raise £150 million. It copies a similar policy introduced by Barack Obama in 2009 which forced cigarette firms to contribute more to the cost of tobacco-related illnesses.

Miliband's announcements represent a victory in the shadow Cabinet for shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, who had been calling for Labour to integrate health and social care.

The proposals were welcomed by Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union which is preparing to fund Labour's general election struggle next year.

"The NHS will be safe in Labour's hands," he said.

"Social justice is not an issue for any one country of our isles – it is for all of us to give our children and grandchildren a decent start in life, to safeguard our NHS and eradicate the cancer of insecurity that blights the lives of millions."

The speech succeeded in riling right-wing critics. The TaxPayers' Alliance responded by dismissing Miliband's proposals as "sixth-form socialism of the most uninspiring kind".

"It is lazy and dangerous to implement populist measures that won't raise the money politicians promise," chief executive Jonathan Isaby said.

"Windfall taxes will hurt pensioners who rely on stable returns for a comfortable retirement, sin taxes hit the poorest hardest, and a mansion tax would be a vindictive gesture that will eventually find its way down the property ladder to hit much less expensive homes, too."

Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps criticised Miliband for not offering a "serious plan for the economy" and pointed out he failed to address how he would reduce the deficit.

"All Ed Miliband offers is more wasteful spending, more borrowing and more taxes," he said.

"You can't fund the NHS if you lose control of the nation's finances and bankrupt the economy like Labour did last time.

"Labour simply don't have a long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain. Our country, our children and our grandchildren would be worse off under Ed Miliband's weak leadership."