Mansion owners, tobacco firms and tax avoiders to pay for NHS boost, says Miliband

23rd September 2014

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Labour leader Ed Miliband has announced plans to make mansion owners, hedge funds, tax avoiders and tobacco companies pay for extra resources in the NHS.

Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Manchester this afternoon, in his last conference speech before the next general election, Miliband promised 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 3,000 more midwives and 5,000 more homecare workers, by raising an extra £2.5 billion through targeted taxes.

Labour plans to raise £1.2 billion from a new mansion tax on properties valued at more than £2 million, £1.1 billion from tax avoidance measures, particularly  targeting hedge funds and £150 million by charging tobacco companies fees towards the cost of smoking-related illness.

The  £500 million clampdown on hedge funds will ensure that they pay stamp duty on shares, which they are currently able to avoid by renting the shares from banks.

Labour also plans to prevent large businesses from avoiding corporation tax by moving profits out of the UK through “eurobonds” and to clampdown on the use of “umbrella companies” to take advantage of expenses rules.

It says that people on low incomes that live in expensive homes will not be unfairly penalised and those with multi-million pound properties would pay substantially more than those just over the threshold.

Miliband also set six national goals for the next ten years if a Labour government is elected.

These are to halve the number of people in low pay;  for all working people to receive their fair share of the country’s wealth; for Britain to become the world leader in the green economy; for as many people to be in apprenticeships as are currently at university; for the UK to build as many homes as we need and finally to have a “truly world-class” health service.

He said: “A Tory economy is always for the few – because that is who they care about. British people can’t afford another five years of Cameron.”

Miliband added: “The game is rigged in favour of all of those who have the power…we’re going to call time on this way of running the country.”

The British Property Federation (BPF) has poured scorn on Labour’s proposals for a mansion tax, arguing that it simply avoids much needed reform of council tax, and is not the way to plug any funding gaps in the NHS.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the BPF said: “There is recognition in our industry that council tax on high-end property is low, and with no revaluation since 1991, in desperate need of reform.
“Instead of responsible reform, however, we get a mansion tax, and a political stunt, which has been used before.”
 He said that while Labour calculates linking the policy with the NHS will make it popular,  a much better use of any available funds would be to spend them on access to housing, thereby improving peoples’ health. The NHS requires funding certainty, but it is far from clear how much a mansion tax would actually raise, he said
Fletcher added:“This mansion tax is also effectively a tax on London. In an era of supposed greater devolution, further centralising property taxes can only be considered a retrograde step.
“The best way to protect the NHS will be to grow the economy via investment, not raising taxes for current spending.”

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