Boris Johnson sticks to his guns on social care reform plan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaving 10 Downing Street, central London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaving 10 Downing Street, central London.

Conservative backbenchers are angry with a reported raise to National Insurance which would go against their general election commitment

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Boris Johnson remains committed to “sustainable reform” of the social care system, Downing Street has said, despite a growing Tory backlash over his reported plans.

Conservative backbenchers have reacted angrily to reports that ministers are set to raise National Insurance to fund the changes to the system in England – in breach of their general election commitment.

Critics warned changes that would benefit elderly homeowners in the affluent South East at the expense of working families would undermine the Government’s “levelling up” agenda.

With an announcement expected as early as this week, Downing Street remained tight-lipped over the details of the plan which has been thrashed out by Mr Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

“We are committed to setting out long-term sustainable reform of the sector and that is what we will do, but beyond that I am not going to be getting into any more speculation,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

“The challenges that face the social care sector are long-standing and have successively not been addressed, and that is something the Prime Minister is committed to doing.”

Reports have suggested that lifetime contributions on care will be capped at about £80,000 and National Insurance will be increased by 1.25% to raise between £10 billion and £11 billion per year.

Tory former Cabinet minister Sir John Redwood warned against a “stupid” tax rise.

“A tax on jobs when you want to promote more and better paid employment is particularly stupid,” he said.

Tory former chancellors Lord Hammond, Lord Clarke and Lord Lamont have all criticised the plan to increase National Insurance, while former prime minister Sir John Major said it was “regressive”.

Meanwhile Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also signalled his party’s opposition to the proposal.

“We do need more investment in the NHS and social care but National Insurance, this way of doing it, simply hits low earners, it hits young people and it hits businesses,” he told the Mirror.

Economic think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggested increasing basic and higher rate income tax by just under 1.5 percentage points would raise a similar amount to a one percentage point hike in National Insurance contributions (NICs) and would spread the burden across the generations.

IFS senior research economist Stuart Adam said: “Choosing to increase NICs rates would mean that just 1.4% of additional revenue came from families that contain a pensioner – who now make up 23% of all families.

“In contrast, these families would contribute 13.8% of additional revenue if the basic and higher rates on income tax were increased.”