Tax hike ‘not enough’ to fix social care crisis, claims Council boss
The Government’s new health and social care tax, which will be introduced across the UK to pay for reforms to the NHS and care sector, may not be enough, a senior figure has warned.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced a 1.25 per cent rise in National Insurance from next year.
The tax hike will help to raise up to £12 billion a year and will allow the NHS to catch up on a backlog of cases created by the pandemic, while also reforming the social care system.
In response, Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor welcomed the news, but said it was little more than a sticking plaster.
“I have pressed the Government, repeatedly, to address the real and mounting pressures on care services, so I welcome today’s announcement for additional funding,” he said.
“In welcoming the funds promised for both the NHS and social care, I am concerned that the announcement will not be sufficient to meet this council’s immediate and pressing need this winter and next year.
“Most of the money is going to the NHS, as it has significant financial challenges on the back of the pandemic, but so do our people’s services for adults and children. Social care cannot be in second place after NHS needs have been met.
“There is also the fact the timing could mean that we have two years to wait before we see the full positive impact.
“The Government promised to fix the social care funding crisis so that the sector, which has played such a crucial role in recent months and still does, gets the funding it needs and deserves.
“If this goes through, it is only a partial fix, regrettably omitting additional money to cover the whole of our front-line social care remit.”
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon was more unwavering in his support of the decision.
“I support what the Government has done,” he said. “The problem of social care is one that has been hanging around, and not addressed properly for more than a decade. This is a coherent way forward, that stands a reasonable chance of succeeding.
“We have to recognise that the cost of health and social care won’t go down and, as a society, we have to find a way of paying for it.”
The rise in National Insurance will take effect from April 2022, before becoming a separate tax on earned income the following year, appearing separately on an employee’s payslip.
Mr Bacon praised the decision to outline exactly where people’s money was going. He said: “I’ve always thought we should make it more evident, more open and more clear as to how much things actually cost.
“We have had that with council tax for years, so when you look on your bill you can see how it’s broken up between the district council, the county council, the police and so on. I see no reason why we shouldn’t do that for the NHS as well.”