MP COLUMN: New health levy is a Government gimmick and will unravel

Younger readers may not remember the poll tax from three decades ago. But it helped finish off an election winning Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 10:19 am
Mary Glindon, North Tyneside MP.

It was a monstrously unfair tax that raised the same contribution from, say, a rich Duke and his less well off driver. It offended our common values of fairness.

We don’t say it was a good thing because it raised billions for local government services.

Which brings us to the government’s new health and social care levy raised on national insurance payments by employees and employers.

No one denies that the NHS needs extra funding to catch up with the backlog of millions of cases.

No one objects to the need to invest in quality social care.

It is widely accepted that the health service suffers if people with conditions such as dementia or disability cannot be cared for at home or in residential homes rather than hospitals.

An injection of £12billion a year for both sounds good.

But we have no idea whether this will be swallowed up by the health service and not even plug the gaps. There is no certainty that much or any of it will go to social care in a couple of years’ time.

We don’t have much idea what social care will even look like.

Worse, the means of funding either or both is fundamentally unfair. We will all come to see this in practice as time goes by but here’s two examples for now.

Graduates earning more than £27,000 a year will have to cough up a marginal tax rate of 42% when their student loan repayments are reckoned in too. People in less affluent areas where house prices are lower will lose much more of the value of their house as a proportion, maybe as much as 75%.

But the Prime Minister is cock-a-hoop.

This apparently wicked wheeze makes it look like he’s doing something and embarrassing his opponents by turning the tables on them.

He won a snap vote in the Commons but underneath the bluster many Conservative MPs are worried.

It is government by gimmick. It will unravel. And then we will still need a solution that fairly funds a joined up health and social care system.

Mary Glindon, North Tyneside MP