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Miliband announces new £2.5bn ‘time to care’ fund for NHS

Ed Miliband has announced a £2.5bn fund for the NHS at the Labour party conference.

He says the fund will help pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 more midwives.

It will be financed by a new levy on tobacco companies, a £1.1bn clampdown on tax avoidance, including by hedge funds, and a new mansion tax on homes valued over £2m.

In his speech he promises to introduce a truly integrated service for physical health, mental health and care for the elderly.

He says: “The NHS is sliding backwards under this government. They are privatising and fragmenting it. Just think what it would be 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 the Health and Social Care Act, and we will transform the NHS for the future.

“We will raise £1bn from tax avoidance including by closing the loopholes for the hedge funds. We will use the proceeds from a tax on houses worth over £2m and we will raise revenue from the tobacco companies who make soaring profits on the back of ill health.”

Miliband says the package of tax avoidance will raise £1.1bn, the fees for tobacco firms a further £150m annually and the mansion tax around £1.4bn.

Tobacco firms, who are already subject to heavy excise duties, are likely to be unhappy, however Labour could argue that the firms have a duty to help save the NHS because of the link between cancer and tobacco. The cost of smoking to the NHS is estimated to be between £2.7bn and £5.2bn. The Treasury earned £9.5bn in revenue from tobacco duties in 2011-2012.

The promise to save the NHS is one of six long-term goals the Labour leader outlined in his speech. They are national goals that form the basis of his ten year plan for two terms of office.

The goals are:

  • Ensuring more apprentices.
  • Help for the self employed as part of a move to restore the link between growth and wages.
  • Restoring the dream of home ownership by doubling the number of first-time buyers.
  • Halving the number of people on low pay.
  • Changing the lives of over 2 million people.
  • Creating 1 million more high-tech jobs by securing the UK’s position as is a world leader in green industries.

(Image: c. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

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