Labour leader Ed Miliband outlines plans to increase NHS spending, with fees for tobacco companies, a “mansion tax” for owners of £2m plus homes and a crackdown on tax avoidance.
In his final conference speech before the 2015 general election, the Labour leader set out a 10-year plan to rebuild Britain, turning it into a “world-class” country without resorting to “big spending”.
He said Labour would create a £2.5bn “time to care” fund for the NHS, which would pay for thousands of extra staff, but would not be financed by increasing most people’s taxes or borrowing.
Instead, the tobacco industry would be charged fees to help cover the cost of smoking-related illness, £1.2bn would be raised by a “mansion tax” on homes worth £2m plus, and £1.1bn would come from clamping down on tax avoidance by hedge funds and other companies.
Mr Miliband said: “It is time to care about our NHS, so that doctors, nurses, care workers, midwives able to spend proper time with us, not to be rushed off their feet.
“The next Labour government will set aside funding so we can have 3,000 more midwives, 5,000 more homecare workers, 8,000 more GPs and 20,000 more nurses in our NHS – an NHS with time to care, because there has never a more important time to care about our NHS.”
Mr Miliband outlined six “goals”, including doubling the numbers buying their first homes to 400,000 each year by building more properties.
His other ambitions are to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour, increase apprenticeships until they match university entries, halve the number of low-paid workers, and create a million green technology jobs.
Although Labour aims to eliminate the deficit by 2020, with tight controls on public spending, Mr Miliband said it was time for Britain to “raise its sights” beyond austerity.
He said: “Can anyone build a better future for the working people of Britain? That is the general election question.”
Referring to the close vote in the Scottish independence referendum, he said many Scots wanted independence “because they felt they had nothing left to lose by quitting the UK”.
He added: “Our task is to restore people’s faith in the future. But the way to do it is not to break up our country. It is to break with the old way of doing things, break with the past.
“I’m not talking about changing a policy, or simply a different programme. But something that is bigger: transforming the idea, the ethic, of how our country is run.”
The Labour leader also argued that 16 and 17-year-olds should be given the vote in general elections, as they were in Scotland in the independence referendum.