Boris Johnson expected to announce national insurance hike to fund social care reform
The Health Secretary and the Chancellor are reportedly at loggerheads about how much national insurance should be raised in order to fund the reforms to the NHS and social care policy
Boris Johnson is expected to announce hike in national insurance to cover the cost of social care reforms - breaking a Conservative Party manifesto pledge.
The announcement could be made as early as next week, with senior Tories reportedly at loggerheads about how much of a rise in NI contributions is needed to fund the NHS and social care.
Sources close to Health Secretary Sajid Javid strongly deny he has pushed for a rise in national insurance as high as 2%, but did not dispute that he had argued for a rise of more than 1%.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be arguing against an increase higher than 1%, with any rise being a breach of the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto.
Conservative former health secretary Jeremy Hunt urged the Government to “bite the bullet” and announce a tax hike.
With two manifesto pledges seemingly at odds, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland chose to stress the commitment to long-term reform social care.
Speaking to GB News this morning, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain Robert Buckland refused to rule a rise but said "no final decisions have been made".
He also refused to say whether he would resign if his party breaks the manifesto pledge, and justified the rise in national insurance intergenerational unfairness saying "we will all be old".
He also said: “I’m confident that something will come forward very, very soon because a lot of us have been waiting anxiously.
“What we said in the manifesto about social care is no-one has a monopoly of wisdom about these issues and the British public are sensible enough to know that when it comes to the issue of social care we have got to find some way in which it will be adequately funded.”
The Times reported that five Cabinet ministers would oppose the hike to national insurance. Multiple newspapers have reported that new plans could be revealed next week when Parliament returns from its summer recess.
Mr Hunt, the chair of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, said the “eye-watering” sums required are far bigger than what the Chancellor “can find down the back of a Treasury sofa”.
“I’m really arguing that we need to bite the bullet and say there has to be a tax rise of some sort,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism for a delay in setting out the reforms, having said his plan was ready when speaking on the steps of Downing Street in 2019.
During the general election that year, the Tories pledged not to raise the rate of income tax, VAT or national insurance.
Downing Street did not deny a tax raise was being considered, but it was stressed that no decisions have been made. Labour warned the Prime Minister against “hitting low earners, young people and business” with a tax rise.
Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said: “Boris Johnson still hasn’t come forward with the plan for social care he promised over two years ago, and instead they’re proposing a manifesto-breaking tax rise that would hit working people and businesses hard.”
Munira Wilson, the Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson for health and social care, said a 2% national insurance rise would be “unfair and unjust”.
“Sajid Javid is putting the burden on the same people who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, and Boris Johnson has today broken his manifesto promise not to raise taxes,” the MP said. “Has it really taken all this time, to make a decision to rip off the people who can least afford to shoulder the burden of social care?”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We are committed to bringing forward a long-term plan to reform the social care system and we will set out proposals this year.”