6 Sep 2021

Boris Johnson faces Tory revolt over tax rises for social care

Political Editor

Back to school, back to parliament, back to politics and a burning question: “How to fix social care once and for all?”

One of the solemn promises made by Boris Johnson on the steps of 10 Downing Street when he became prime minister three years ago.

But how do you fund it and who should pay?

That’s the question causing a schism in the Tory party and one that looks like fuelling a backbench revolt. The prime minister favours raising national insurance contributions.

Of those polled by JL Partners, 55% said they would back national insurance payments increasing from 12% to 13% while 25%were against it.

The level of support for a hike in national insurance increases to 60% for Conservative voters. The poll also showed majority support for a 1% increase in income tax, with 51% backing this option.

However, a suggested rise of 2% in income tax or national insurance contributions saw public support plummet with more people opposing than supporting those proposals.

The polling, which covered people from across the UK, also found there was some difference in opinion between the generations, but not an unbridgeable divide. While over-45s were more likely to back a 1% national insurance hike, a majority of 18-44s favoured the policy as well.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce his plans to tackle the funding shortfall in the social care system this week. Raising either income tax or national insurance contributions would break a Conservative manifesto promise not to raise either of these taxes.

Several senior Tory MPs have openly expressed their opposition to the prospect of breaking a manifesto promise.

They also claim a rise in national insurance will have a disproportionate impact on younger people.

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, said: “The public prefers it (an increase in national insurance) because they have an idea that it is some kind of insurance to pay for their pension or to pay for the NHS.

“But I’m afraid that is just total nonsense. It’s just another form of tax but it only falls on earnings rather than other kinds of income for example from shares or from renting out properties. As a result it is a very unfair tax.”

This week, the government announced an extra £5.4billion to provide extra support to the NHS over the next six months.

This funding pot includes £1billion to help tackle COVID-19 backlogs, delivering routine surgery and treatments for patients.