Prime minister Boris Johnson has defended the government’s decision to press on with raising National Insurance despite the cost-of-living crisis, saying that it is “unquestionably the right thing for our country”.
Johnson said that the NHS was the “biggest priority” for the British people and that he had “absolutely no problem” with higher taxes helping tackle the treatment backlog brought about by Covid.
Referring to the record treatment waiting lists, the PM added: “We have got to give our doctors and nurses the funding to deal with that. We've got to do the difficult things, we've got to take the big decisions, the right decisions, for this country.”
The hike, dubbed the Health & Social Care Levy, came into force on Wednesday. It is expected to raise over £39 billion for the NHS and social care sector over the next three years.
However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer believes that the Levy is “the wrong tax at the wrong time” for working Brits.
Although conceding that the NHS backlog needed to be dealt with, Sir Keir said: “In the middle of the worst cost of living crisis for decades, today the government chooses to increase taxes on working people.”
Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Ed Davey, added that it was “wrong” to “put all the burden on working people” to fund health and social care properly.
However, health secretary Sajid Javid believes it would have been “morally wrong” to expect future generations to foot the bill for healthcare funding that is needed at the present time, explaining that the government had a choice between “putting that money in ourselves now” or borrowing.
Javid added: “That is mortgaging the future of our children and our grandchildren. Why should our children pay for our healthcare and our adult social care? They are going to have enough challenges as they grow older.”
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons