Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband said Labour would bring in a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2m (Reuters)

Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to reintroduce the 10p tax rate for low earners and fund it with a new levy on homes worth over £2m if his party is elected.

Speaking in Bedford, Miliband said Labour would "put right a mistake by Gordon Brown", the former prime minister who scrapped the 10p rate in 2008 and raised taxes on millions of low earners in the UK economy.

Miliband said the policy would be "moving Labour on from the past and putting Labour where it should always have been, on the side of working people."

Conservatives are reportedly also looking at the reintroduction of a 10p rate.

The government has raised the personal tax threshold over the past two years - the level of earnings before taxation starts - and it will lift again in April, to £9,205. Income over this amount will be taxed at the basic rate of 20 percent.

Liberal Democrats, the Tories' coalition partners, have unsuccessfully pushed for the introduction of a mansion tax, which features in the party manifesto. Labour's adoption of the policy may be seen as a forward-look to the next general election, which will likely be as tight as the last and could produce another coalition, potentially between Miliband's party and the Lib Dems.

A mansion tax may require an reevaluation of the council tax bandings, which could potentially land households up and down the country with a higher tax bill as a result.

Labour has not said how it would value houses for a mansion tax.

Policy Exchange, a think tank, said there are between 35,000 and 70,000 properties worth more than £2m in the UK economy, three quarters of which are in the south east of England.

Its economists calculate that to raise £2bn, each property would have to be taxed between £25,000 and £50,000.

Miliband also bemoaned the declining living standards and tightening household finances in recent years.

Official data shows that average earnings in the UK economy are now, in real terms, at the same level as 2003. The Office for National Statistics warned that this drop could be permanent.

"We cannot go on with an approach that simply promises more of the same: year after year of squeezed living standards for the majority of working people," he said.

"It's wrong for them and it's wrong for our economy."

A Conservative party spokesman said the policy announcement to reverse Brown's scrapping of the 10p rate was a "stunning admission of economic failure" by Labour.