'Health levy' tax of just 1% could help fix England's care crisis, Jeremy Hunt says

 

‘Health levy’ tax of just 1% could raise £6billion a year and help fix England’s care crisis, Jeremy Hunt says

  • Jeremy Hunt said the new premium would assist in fixing the care system
  • Mr Hunt said his idea could also help tackle the backlog of NHS treatments  
  • The proposal from the former health secretary came as Boris Johnson failed to rule out the prospect of tax rises to pay for his long-awaited social care plan

A ‘health and social care levy’ costing 1 per cent of our incomes could help fix England’s broken care system, Jeremy Hunt said last night.

The proposal from the former health secretary came as Boris Johnson failed to rule out the prospect of tax rises to pay for his long-awaited social care plan.

Mr Hunt said his idea – which would raise £6billion a year – could also help tackle the backlog of NHS treatments caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the new premium would assist in fixing the care system without breaking Tory manifesto pledges not to raise income tax or National Insurance.

Yesterday, when asked at a press conference whether the 2019 manifesto commitment not to raise income tax or national insurance remained in place, the Prime Minister sidestepped the question. He said the problem of social care had ‘bedevilled governments for at least three decades’.

‘All I can say is we’ve waited three decades, you’re just going to have to wait a little bit longer,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry about that, but it won’t be too long now, I assure you.’

A ‘health and social care levy’ costing 1 per cent of our incomes could help fix England’s broken care system, Jeremy Hunt said

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It had been hoped that Mr Johnson would be in a position to outline his long-awaited social care reforms this week, before the second anniversary of him making his promise on the steps of Downing Street in 2019.

But he and the Chancellor have had to self-isolate after Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, tested positive for Covid, and it is now considered unlikely that the plans will be published before the autumn.

The Prime Minister is in favour of a lifetime cap on the amount individuals have to contribute towards their care costs, set at around £50,000.

But Damian Green, Theresa May’s former deputy, said this arrangement would benefit families with large homes in the South because they would not have to spend as great a proportion of their income to reach their cap.

Mr Green suggested a cap set at 30 per cent of a person’s assets – ensuring those with larger homes pay more before the state steps in.

It is understood Treasury officials are considering this idea as a way to bring down the cost of the reforms, at the same time as trying to be more equitable across all regions.

The Daily Mail has been campaigning for an urgent solution to the care crisis.

In a thread on Twitter, Mr Hunt said there was a growing realisation in Downing Street that ‘with the Covid backlog we’ll never get the NHS back on its feet without social care reform’. He said tax rises would be needed because ‘given post-pandemic public finances, £7-plus billion is likely to be too much for any chancellor to find down the back of a Treasury sofa’.

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The proposal from the former health secretary came as Boris Johnson failed to rule out the prospect of tax rises to pay for his long-awaited social care plan

The proposal from the former health secretary came as Boris Johnson failed to rule out the prospect of tax rises to pay for his long-awaited social care plan

The former health secretary rejected two ideas to raise the money – further increases in council tax and charging pensioners national insurance.

He said the latter would not be feasible because it does not raise much money and breaches the manifesto promise. Mr Hunt added: ‘Then there is a new levy, perhaps set at around 1 per cent of income. This could raise £6billion-plus immediately, actually more than the social care system needs or could cope with right away.

‘But there is somewhere that does need that funding right away. The NHS Covid backlog is now the most serious for two decades. We are seeing thousands of people waiting two years for surgery for the first time in two decades. That is going to require a big short-term increase in capacity.

‘So the attraction of a health and social care levy is it would fund the NHS backlog in the short term and desperately needed improvements in the social care system in the medium and longer term.’

Post source: Daily mail

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