UK National Insurance Tax Rise 'a Very Conservative Thing to Do', Javid Says as MPs Prepare for Vote
On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a 1.25% increase to the National Insurance tax to fund a reform of the COVID-stricken health and social care systems.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has argued that increasing National Insurance contributions
is "a very Conservative thing to do", something which will purportedly raise "enough money" to pay for England's social care reforms. A vote on the government's National Insurance tax hike is expected later in the day.
Javid told Sky News on Tuesday that without raising taxes the waiting lists for the National Health System (NHS) would have reached 13 million people in three years, which is tantamount to one person in every family.
"[…] With adult social care, I think the fact that some people have this risk of catastrophic costs of care, that is not acceptable where you have some one in seven people that have to pay over £100,000 ($137,000) for their care", the health secretary said.
He stressed that Tory members are "committed as a party to the NHS" and that he wants the NHS "to be there for everyone - a world class health service free at the point of use paid through general taxation".
"I don't like raising taxes, I want taxes to be as low as they possibly can be, but I think people understand if we want the NHS to be for us there always, doing its job, then we have got to properly fund that - and the same applies to social care".
When asked whether he can guarantee that increasing National Insurance contributions will help clear the NHS backlog, Javid said: "No responsible health secretary can make that kind of guarantee".
Johnson on National Insurance Tax Hike: 'It's Not Something I Do Lightly'
He spoke shortly after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
vowed that as of next April, the government "will create a new, UK-wide, 1.25 percent Health and Social Care Levy on earned income, hypothecated in law to health and social care".
The prime minister admitted that a 1.25% increase in the National Insurance levy broke the pledge made in the Conservative Party's 2019 election manifesto that no tax hike would be introduced under a Tory government.
"No Conservative government wants to raise taxes, I will be honest I accept this breaks a manifesto commitment. It is not something I do lightly but a global pandemic wasn't in anyone's manifesto", Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the government will invest £36 billion ($49.5 billion) in the health and care system over the next three years, with the National Insurance tax increase contributing £12 billion ($16 billion) to the reform.
Reacting to the prime minister's announcement, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer told lawmakers that Johnson was "putting a sticking plaster over gaping wounds" inflicted by his own party.
"He made that commitment on social care before the pandemic, and he said he'd pay for it without raising taxes before the pandemic", Starmer asserted.