Ed Miliband offered a preview of the big idea set to dominate his thinking at Labour's party conference this autumn as he unveiled the concept of 'predistribution'.
The Labour leader used a speech at a Policy Network conference in central London to challenge assumptions made in the 1990s that low inflation would lead to growth - and that growth would automatically help everyone in society.
He argued inequality has grown despite Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's redistributive policies and that, with public funds restricted by the realities of the coalition's austerity drive, future Labour ministers will not be able to afford to afford measures like increasing tax credits.
Miliband argued that the "model of the economy we have and the distribution of income it creates" should be the focus of Labour's attentions in the future.
He declared: "We need to care about predistribution as well as redistribution."
This new concept seeks to funnel government money into measures like the living wage and tackle the unfairness inherent in high train ticket and energy prices, in order to give people a foundation on which they can improve their lives.
"Think about somebody working in a call centre, a supermarket, or in an old peoples' home," Miliband said.
"Redistribution offers a top-up to their wages. Predistribution seeks to offer them more: higher skills, with higher wages - an economy that works for working people."
The argument will extend Miliband's 'responsible capitalism' agenda outlined in last year's conference speech to a broader, newer vision of British society in which the government's role is to set up the circumstances for growth, rather than intervene directly.
"Predistribution is about saying we cannot allow ourselves to be stuck with permanently being a low-wage economy," Miliband added.
"It is neither just, nor does it enable us to pay our way in the world.
"Our aim must be to transform our economy so it is a much higher skill, higher wage economy."