National Insurance (NI) contributions will rise by 1.25% from next April to tackle the NHS backlog and pay for the social care system, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today announced.
Announcing the increase, Mr Johnson said the levy would raise almost £36bn for frontline services in the next three years.
The majority from the tax increases in the first three years will be spent on improving the NHS waiting list, which is currently at 5.5m people, while a growing proportion will go to social care.
He added there were ‘30,000 patients occupying patients that could have better cared for elsewhere’ when the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, which was ‘costing billions every night’.
The changes will come into effect from April 2022.
As part of the reforms, anyone who has assets of less than £20k will also have their care costs fully covered by the state, while those with assets between £20k and £100k will receive some means-tested state support.
Meanwhile, working pensioners – estimated at around 1.2m people – will also be asked to pay NI contributions for the first time.
Health services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would receive an extra £2.2bn a year, the Government said.
The announcement revealed that social care plan will mean no one in England will have to pay more than £86k for care over their lifetime.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I accept this breaks a manifesto commitment. It is not something I do lightly, but a global pandemic wasn’t in anyone’s manifesto.’
However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the plan was ‘a sticking plaster over gaping wounds’, claiming many of the problems in social care had existed before the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes as the Government yesterday announced a £5.4bn funding injection for the NHS over the next six months to ‘support the Covid response’, including an extra £1bn to tackle the care backlog.
Meanwhile, the BMA had called for ‘at least’ £4.9bn to tackle the non-Covid care backlog; £6.5bn capital funding to cover overdue maintenance costs; at least £4.2bn capital funding for wholesale digital transformation; and £1bn capital funding for GP premises.
A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Nursing in Practice