Several Conservative politicians are calling for the government to scrap the planned increase in national insurance, which is meant to support the NHS and social care. They argue that the cost of living crisis means families wouldn’t be able to pay any extra taxes.
However, this is the wrong way of seeing things. We don’t need lower taxes overall, instead we need politicians to make better choices about who’s paying those taxes.
The NHS and social care system desperately need more investment. As many organisations, including the Womens’ Budget Group and Nuffield Trust, have pointed out, even the new funding announced last autumn isn’t going to be enough to plug the gaps.
It would be better for the government to take a fairer way of raising funds to support the NHS and social care. The pandemic has seen the fortunes of the wealthiest balloon. Analysis by Oxfam found that the wealth of the ten richest men in the world has doubled during covid.
The Trade Union Congress argued that it would be better for the government to raise taxes on the wealthy. For example, bringing capital gains tax into line with income tax could raise up to £17 billion a year.
The Patriotic Millionaires, a group of rich people arguing for higher taxes on the wealthy, has suggested an annual wealth tax could support much needed investment in social care.
Tax policy involves political choices. We need these choices to be fair. We also need reforms to the social care system that are well-funded and effective. The Women’s Budget Group reminds us that delivering a long-term settlement on social care that addresses the immediate crises in the sector cannot be delayed.
It’s time to properly invest in social care and to do it in a way that’s fair and proportionate.